From December 2013

Monday’s protest that held up one private Google bus brought national media attention to the Mission and further intensified discussion about Silicon Valley’s impact on the Mission District and other San Francisco neighborhoods.

For some within the company, the shuttle stop protest struck a personal chord.

“We’re not all IPO’d, we’re not all millionaires, the cost of living is a strain on everyone,” said one Google employee, who due to concerns about professional repercussions asked not to be identified. “I make $70,000 a year. After taxes, I’m paying half of my money on rent.”

The employee said he has been living in San Francisco for four years and spent two of those years in the Mission “before being priced out.” He says he feels that the rhetoric of the protesters’ unfairly polarizes the neighborhood.

Rising tension and “techie backlash” in recent months have led him to feel increasingly threatened while waiting for his ride to work. He described one experience waiting for a shuttle in the Lower Haight when a passerby spit on the face of another Google employee standing next to him and shouted: “F*&%@#% Google.”

“There’s a real frustration because a lot of us live in these communities and it’s almost like we’re being characterized as this entirely different entity, this force descending on the city,” he said. “We’re not just here for tech, a lot of us came out here for other reasons, this really is our home.”

A former Google employee who left the company in the last year expressed a similar sense of conflict.

“Riding the shuttle was problematic for me in personal and political sense,” he said. “I support the people putting on this demonstration, even more so the people quietly suffering from the effects of gentrification… But that’s balanced with the fact that I’m a young professional and working at Google was a great career opportunity. The Mission is where I can afford to do that and live in a city.”

Another Google employee said there were discussions within the company about the impact on San Francisco and the Mission. The engineer moved into the neighborhood seven years ago and said that some of the recent problems may be coming from a sense that newcomers are arriving with a set group of friends rather than melding more into the community.

When some Google employees saw footage of the protester posing as a Google employee and harassing other demonstrators, they couldn’t believe someone they worked with would behave in that way.

“When it was discovered that it wasn’t a Googler, it made a lot more sense,” the employee said.

Numerous publications confused the protester with an actual Google employee. He was later revealed to be union organizer Max Bell Alper by the SF Bay Guardian.

“It does say something that they all believed it,” said Amanda Ream, an activist with Eviction Free San Francisco, the group behind Monday’s action.

Ream says that the protest focused on Google’s shuttle bus because it’s “the most iconic and visible image” of the tech sector’s impact on San Francisco, but that the protest was about more than just transportation.

Google’s official company response to Monday’s protest focused primarily on the day-to-day impact of their shuttle lines.

“We certainly don’t want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents and we and others in our industry are working with SFMTA to agree to a policy on shuttles in the city,” wrote a company spokesperson in an email to Mission Local.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is currently working on a policy proposal to be presented to its Board in January. The proposal will better regulate the shuttles’ impact on neighborhoods, says Paul Rose, spokesperson for the SFMTA. According to Rose, the proposal has been developed in conjunction with several tech companies, including Google.

“Over the last few years, these types of shuttles have really emerged as part of the transportation network, with thousands boarding them a day,” Rose said. “We’re in a process to allow our policies catch up to this mode of transportation.”

Rose says the policy proposal, which if approved will go into effect in the summer of 2014, would transform 200 MUNI stops into shared stops with private bus providers that had paid a fee to be part of the system. The proposal also includes attaching i.d. placards to all private buses so community members with complaints can file complaints with the possibility of enforcement.

“We have received reports from people in neighborhoods,” Rose said. “This proposal will address those concerns and promote a service that takes thousands of cars off the street.”

Update: A previous version of this article stated that the SFMTA’s policy proposal would go into effect in the spring of 2014. It has been corrected to summer of 2014.

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Daniel Hirsch is a freelance writer who has been living in the Mission since 2009. When he's not contributing to Mission Local, he's writing plays, working as an extra for HBO, and/or walking to the top of Bernal Hill.

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  1. “I always remember how Trayvon Martin’s hoodie was seen as a justification for his murder,” says Van Jones, the founder of The Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund and #YesWeCode.
    “But billionaire Facebook founder Mark “Zuckerberg wears hoodies — and nobody shoots at him. So let’s flip the script: let’s give our hoodie-wearing youth the same tools, training and technology that the kids taking over Silicon Valley have.
    ” I hope #YesWeCode creates 100,000 ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s’ — and that a whole lot of them look just like Trayvon Martin.”
    Message: Techies please go to–Please help youth in San Francisco and Oakland.

  2. I’ve lived in San Francisco for over twenty years. Without deception or hyperbole I tell you that every single long term city resident I know, throughout the city, loathes techies and how the Technocracy has plunged a poison tipped dagger of greed and materialism into the soul of this once extraordinary locale.

    If all the skyscrapers collapsed tomorrow, and the Boom #2 crumbled as well, all of us would dance with joy.

    A pox upon techies and all they stand for and support. May their worthless empire crumble upon them.

    1. +1. Happy new year.

      We walked the neighborhood last night. How far it has fallen. One glimmer of hope is the reemergence of “For Rent” signs. Most likely, the rent hyperinflation is starting to price out entry level golddigging tech employees and “entrepeneurs” whose speculative fortunes are taking longer than expected. One year and off to cheaper areas.

      You can’t go home again, but it sure is heartbreaking when the place you love is ruined so rapidly.

      1. The “for rent” signs are appearing for a couple of reasons.

        One is the obvious reason that higher rents attract owners who were keeping their units off the market tor e-enter the market. Particularly since tech workers generally move on and do not squat or decades.

        Second reason is that some tenants are buying or moving into the new-build units coming on-stream.

        Good news for folks arriving in Sf with a dream of success and seeking their starter home here.

    2. Mickster, you must know a completely different cross-section of people from me, because the people I talk to are very excited about how SF has become the global leader for fields like social media, the shared economy, biotech and knowledge work in general.

      You appear to pine for a city that fails economically and is not generating prosperity and success. The good news for you is that there is no shortage of cities that are failing and declining. and it sounds like you’d be happier in one of them. It’s just that SF isn’t one of them.

      I’ve also lived in SF for 20 years, and this place is far, far better and more vibrant than back then. Perhaps you should talk to some people who are doing well? They are human too despite your envy fit claiming otherwise.

      1. Wise words coming from a bottom feeding gentrifier who lives off other people’s wages and evicts for profit.

        How many housing units have you created? None.

        Mickster doesn’t appear envious to me. He may just value more in life than the pursuit of money, which you couldn’t possibly comprehend.

        I await your personal attack reply. Well, actually no.

        1. I was explaining the “for rent” signs to you. Since I am in that business, I have the knowledge to educate you on this topic.

          Landlords do not create housing units. Developers do that. But landlords provide and make available existing housing units for rental. Without that, you’d be homeless.

          I’ve also created home ownership opportunities for SF residents at the affordable end of the market.

          I do not need to make personal attacks like you, because I have the facts and the understanding and the experience on my side.

  3. Engaging in flame wars with an attention-seeking psycholgically troubled commenter with below average critical thinking skills is unproductive.

    Count to ten before taking the bait.

  4. As someone who works in sales and has to drive to/from the city, I appreciate that these buses take folks off the roads. Not sure if it’s economy or the buses or both, but traffic is way better than it was 5-6 years ago. This should be a simple solution. Figure out a way to add more bus stops somewhere and make the tech companies pay for them. yes, the new bus stops would remove some parking spaces, but the buses also encourage people not to have a car, so it could be a win win. Stop fighting and fix the problem! The faster it’s fixed, the faster the city gets to collect from the companies.

    1. There is no need to create new bus stops and take away parking from hard-working families.

      The shuttles can use the SFMTA stops, and that is exactly what the SFMTA is currently working on coming up with an agreement for.

      If the Google shuttles shows up twice a day, it really doesn’t need it’s own stop. It can share an existing stop.

      1. Ha ha – twice a day!! Yeah right.
        Please count the number of google buses several times in the morning and evening. Then proceed with the countless other buses from Yahoo, Genentech, Facebook, EA Sports and so on and so on. I think you already know the number of trips these buses take in and out of SF. Day in and day out.
        A tech shuttle center near the airport is the solution. It’s a reverse commute in the morning too!!

        1. Your airport solution is unacceptable, as previously noted.

          The correct solution is for SFMTA and these shuttles to agree a schedule of use.

  5. Soon, HappyFace Surveillance Corporation, with its billions of incriminating dossiers, will “grow the business” beyond advertising into extortion and king-making. Then, they will need twice as many employees. This will usher in an even happier period of riches for real estate vultures.

    And soon, addictive little gadgets will attach to your head, so you’ll be able to sort-of look at the traffic jam while staying connected to advertisements and your refrigerator, while more data is added into dossiers.

    There appears to be no end in sight to this unprecedented era of human progress.

  6. I might support a tech shuttle terminal somewhere near the the airport as a way to keep the buses of the City streets.

    1. The point of the shuttles is that it is door to door. Nobody wants to go all the way out to the airport just to catch a shuttle.

      1. Uh, John – plenty of people commute across the city to get to BART or CalTrain. Maybe many of them you consider low-value, a rude intolerance of yours that you should openly admit to instead of crafting straw arguments. Overall you are poorly in tune with the culture and specifics of SF, and unfortunately that and your posting frequency is a disservice to this list.

        Now your are defending door to door commuter service for already privileged people that are displacing the less privileged. I have to ask where does this end? Will they arrive early and help them get out of bed, serve breakfast? Or maybe they will swoop into areas and pre-evict existing residents to make room for those with higher value? Actually, that’s kind of happening …

        I find it extremely ironic that low income residents have to pay for shitty public transport while the privileged get free door to door service plus they actually have defenders in the form of people like John.

        Much to your dismay, you are already subsidizing the underprivileged in this country in a myriad of ways, at the federal, state, and local levels. How those funds and programs are put to use is a separate story, if I were you I would start there.

        Also, do you realize that google execs are building a private airport hub at San Jose airport? To me that is the ultimate sign they can make their wishes happen and very depressing what they actually choose to make happen. In the end it’s their employees who incur the costs: brutal apt and house hunting, ridiculous prices , and now a tidal wave of wrath from the local populace. On top of that they work long hours and have long commutes. Now they are no longer allowed to work remotely,. If you were the head of a mega tech company this all sounds very problematic.

        The utopia of tech is over. The last tech boom was much more idealistic, there was a great drive for ideas but less so for profit. Of course that failed in this system. What won was collecting massive amounts of data on private individuals against their will and without their knowledge. In exchange for free email or seeing photos of friends? Yes indeed.

        Once you digest the whole context, its much easier to have clear thoughts on all this.

        1. “I find it extremely ironic that low income residents have to pay for shitty public transport while the privileged get free door to door service plus they actually have defenders in the form of people like John.”

          1. Everyone who pays taxes pays for public transportation, even those who do not commute on it.

          2. People who take the Google bus to work still use MUNI when they’re in the city. It’s not like these buses can take someone from the Mission up Van Ness to Nob Hill on a Friday evening.

          3. Google employees may be boarding that bus for free each morning, but the money that supports the system is coming straight out of those employees’ paychecks.

        2. Guess what, B2B, those Google employees have free food, great recreational facilities, a concierge service and of course benefits that you and I can only dream of.

          It’s almost as if you have stumbled across one of the great eternal truths – that being able to get a good job makes you more money and gets you bigger and better stuff.

          As much as that might stir up feelings of envy, the good news is that none of it comes from your taxes. If their employer wants to give them great benefits, why do you care?

          1. Many people responding here care because the bus perk makes use of and interferes with public resources. And we pay for those …

            Envy gets brought up a lot in these discussions, it’s a reflex really. What also gets brought up is the type of people that SF used to attract, the counterculture etc. To think that group would be envious of someone slaving away for a corporation in the burbs, with a one hour traffic commute each way is very naive, and wrong … I guess some people still have a soul.

            aren’t the tech workers envious of all the cool kids in the city ( or now Oakland), which why they move here in the first place? Their logic seems to be buying into that status and culture.

            I can think of countless better ways of spending two hours of my day than being stuck on a bus in traffic with breathtaking 101 views.

          2. Live and let live though, right? Once SFMTA works out a deal with the shuttles, there should be no outstanding issue here.

  7. Also, this article points out something I think is important for housing activists and natives to remember in the long run…

    Not all tech workers are evil, and many would undoubtedly be willing to work with the displaced and disenfranchised to develop better alternatives if they were reached out to. Unfortunately, as long as there are people like John providing vocal support to the negative stereotype many long term residents of San Francisco hold of tech workers, it will be harder to find a common ground.

  8. Although working with the city is a good step, I can’t help but think it would be more productive in the long run for these tech companies to contribute money towards extending Bart down to San Jose.

    Helping to build up the public infrastructure of the Bay Area would help out both tech companies AND displaced residents.

    1. I’d actually agree that policy should be done across the Bay Area rather than separately in all these different BA counties (9) and cities (dozens).

      It would make SF more moderate but the burbs more liberal, and rid us of these fiefdoms and their extremism and beggar-thy-neighbor policies.

      too many vested interests for that to happen. i suspect. The rotten boroughs like their petty powers.

    1. And if my posts agreed with 100%, two beers, you’d have no problem.

      So you like vibrant, active commentary here as long as it is ideologically in sync with your own views.

      More of that famed SF tolerance?

          1. Thank you for demonstrating that you take everything literally, have no imagination or sense of humor, and make a repeated point of using what you think of as “progressive values” against progressive arguments.

            Your methodology is so transparent, and so blatantly lifted out from the “gotcha!” Hannity/Limvbaugh/Weiner handbook, that it is laughable you think it works.

            for example:

            ‘Gotcha!: you say you’re “tolerant,'” but you’re actually intolerant of (take your pick) vampires/plaid slacks/warm beer/fat chicks/stupid people/ bad breath/tumors/blog trolls/borscht/saxophones/rheumatoid arthritis, etc. therefore you’re a hypocrite! Gotcha!’

            John, you couldn’t be any simpler or more transparent.

            OK, you “got” me. God, you’re boring, John.

          2. It’s not for you to try and rationalize the paradox that is at the heart of two beer’s position. That is his bed and he must lie on it.

            However, we all know that there are some people who are flexible and tolerant, and there are some people who are neither. What the object of that intolerance is is perhaps a subjective matter. But the critical point isn’t about deciding whose value system is superior but rather noting how some people play better with those with whom they politically disagree than others.

            If you do me harm, I will fight back. But if you disagree with me, I will always tolerate you.

          3. The corner you attempted to back two beers into is a well known and discredited logical fallacy. As you would say, QED.

            And the claim that you tolerate those who disagree with you is obviously false when you immediately class-bait or race-bait anyone who dares to question your positions.

        1. John, You are the sittin’, typin’ definition of an internet spam troll, whose mission is to suffocate threads he doesn’t like with his effluvium, driving away others who may want to have a discussion he doesn’t approve of, changing the topic to suit his agenda.

          There are several likely explanations for your incessant presence on this blog.1. You are a paid troll; 2. You are unpaid, but have a psychopathic need to troll; 3. you are a robot programmed to troll.

          Isn’t Savage Nation or Rush Limbaugh on now? Shouldn’t you be listening to them for the daily renewal and affirmation of your sociopathic value system?

          1. “Spam” is flooding a site for the purpose of selling something for financial gain. I’m not selling anything.

            Again, if my posts were in full agreement with yours, you would not be trying to make this personal instead of addressing the topic.

            Words like “troll” are generally used to try and discredit an opponent who is winning a debate.

          2. John,

            1. Ah, so at least you now admit you are “flooding” the site?

            2. I don’t like “flooders,” even if I agree with them, so you’re simply spewing bullshite.

            3. You might not be selling a specific product, but you are “selling” your neo-liberal, Reaganite, racist anti-government propaganda. You’re either getting paid to do so, or you believe hawking this agenda is in your financial interests.

            4. You claimed to be a landlord, yet all you do is troll here 24/7, sucking the air out of a unique community blog. You apparently don’t actually do anything productive and have way too much time on your hands. You are the best example yet of how unnecessary and of how over-compensated landlords actually are.

          3. Spam is a mass produced meat by-product consumed by people who don’t know any better.

            It appears to have been alive at some point, but now is just dead and gross.

  9. Let me get this straight, one of the Google employee’s interviewed is feeling the pain making $70,000 AFTER taxes?

    Poor guy might have to actually shop at the Latino or Asian owned fruit stand right outside his door instead of taking UBER to Bi-Rite or Whole Foods.

    Keep your chin up kid, maybe your Google stock options will be worth millions someday instead of a couple hundred it is today.

  10. Gentrification has been an ongoing an occurrence in the Mission for the last 15 years. People are displaced from neighborhoods all the time, and neighborhoods change. Not everyone can gain from migration. Low-income renters in the Mission may be evicted, and although that is not fair and the city should take some preventative measures, it is inevitable as a neighborhood becomes wealthier. Low to Mid income families that bought an apartment or house 20 or 30 years ago in the Mission, I’m sure are happy that their neighborhood has less violence and fewer drunk people pissing on their doorstep. And I’m sure they’re happy that their property value has increased. I learned not too long ago that West Oakland was a Japanese neighborhood, and as they were removed during WWII and sent to internment camps, African Americans squatted in their homes and refused to leave when the Japanese came back. So, while it is sad for theLatino people that have rented in the Mission for decades and can no longer afford their neighborhood, I don’t see it as a travesty, just ebb and flow of new people coming in. And the reality is that SF is no longer a magnet for people who want to live alternate lifestyles, but rather one for highly-skilled, affluent workers from mostly middle to upper income families. And while some may want to resist change, it’s inevitable. Who knows what the Mission will look like in 30 years? And instead of trying to plan out some utopian neighborhood where there are 20% Latinos, 20% whites, etc., people should just accept change and adapt to the influx of newcomers. And if SF is no longer the mecca that you visualized, then maybe it’s time to move, because Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are here to stay until they become obsolete.

    1. Yes, David, I think what some folks are struggling with here is exactly what you describe.40-50 years ago people came here for the counter-culture and whatnot. They didn’t have much money but they didn’t need much either.

      That’s not an option for them any more. But we are stuck with thousands of these (now) middle-aged boomers who lack the skills and earning power to really stay here. When they lose their rent-controlled home, they have to go somewhere else.

      Sad, perhaps, but I have more sympathy for those who were raised here and those who have the key jobs that SF needs, than i have for someone who wants to live somewhere “hip” and “pleasant” but really doesn’t have the fiscal wherewithall to sustain it.

          1. Friend, I’ve heard a few accounts. Obviously in a very real sense all LL’s would like to be able to charge a market rent like the rest of the planet does. and of course be able to regain possession by serving notice.

            That said, LL’s do buy rental buildings in Sf, and not just to Ellis them. Here is a sample of the arguments that i have heard from other LL’s.

            1) The rents are much higher in SF. And, specifically, RC leads to an artificial shortage of vacancies which drives up the rents at the margin. So if you can get turnover, the returns can be excellent

            2) Although getting turnover can be hard, the average tenancy in SF is about 5-7 years, so it does happen, especially if you have more units. Experienced LL’s get to intuit the kind of tenants who will not become lifers

            3) Although rents are lower the purchase price of buildings reflects that. So if you buy a building there is upside if you get turnover, which would not be present if existing rents were at market.

            4) Capital appreciation rates in SF typically exceed those available elsewhere.

            5) A shrewd LL can game the system, generate turnover and thereby secure higher profits

            6) A simply buy/Ellis/ TIC can make an easy 100K a unit and that opportunity would not exist without RC.

            There are other arguments as well. RC rewards aggressive LL’s and punishes nice LL’s. That means that, over time, a tenant who sticks around will gradually encounter worse and worse LL’s until he meets one who can finally release the inherent value in a subsidized unit.

    2. I don’t know the specifics of the Japanese-American history in West Oakland, but I imagine it is similar to that in San Francisco.

      The reason that Japanese-Americans did not recover their property was not the fault of the later residents, mostly tenants. In fact, the California legislature passed a law, stripping “absentee” Japanese-American property owners of their property. That’s the general idea. It was a land grab by speculators backed by legislators during WWII. It happened in the Fillmore and likely as well in West Oakland.

      There is more detailed information about this shameful history at the historical societies and museum in Japantown.

      1. Most of the African Americans that moved into the western addition following the interment of Japanese American citizens. These new residents came to work in the ship yards during the war. They moved here from the south in search of one of the better jobs, which abundant during the war.. Following the war by some time the western addition was redeveloped in a way that made it difficulty for the African Americans residents to return to their neighborhood. (Hence the cynical reference “the western subtraction”.) Many moved to the Bay View and Oakland. This is what has happened in cities all over the US, Economic expansion should be expansive and inclusive. One thing for sure, Japanese Americans were tragically displaced apparently robbed of their property.

    3. The greatest irony is that laws enacted to stop the changes can sometimes accelerate the process.

      For example, in 1994, small, landlord-occupied properties, although originally exempt, were placed under strict rent control. The intention was to help tenants. The actual result is that many small scale property owners exit the rental business and convert their rentals into owner-occupied properties. The trend is only increasing. And realistically: city laws will never prevent property owners from choosing to live in their property (TICs) and choosing not to offer them for rent.

      New tenants must now contend with depleted supply and high prices. Only those with the greatest financial strength move into our neighborhoods. Gentrification accelerates. The Laws of Unintended Consequences…

      1. Correct, Frank, it was Prop I in 1994 that brought owner-occupied 2-4 unit buildings under rent control that arguably shifted rent control from being a prudent protection against the excesses of large landlords to an ordinance that literally pitched neighbors against each other.

        An attempt at reversing that failed in 1998, IIRC.

        Rent control as originally envisaged never sought to trap owners into living with their tenants forever.

        With hindsight, it is a shame that the 1996 CosataHawkins Act, which successfully targeted things like vacancy control, never sought to exclude these small mom’n’pop from rent Presumably just 2 years after Prop I, things hadn’t gotten bad enough to justify it.

          1. Sf has had rent control for 34 years now and all you do is complain that rents are too high.

            A neutral observer might conclude that it doesn’t work.

    4. African-Americans were not “squatting” in the homes that the Japanese were forced from during WWII. The US government forced the Japanese from their homes and enabled (most likely whites) others to purchase and own them. Those owners then rented to the people who you say were squatting.

      Read a book. You’re blaming the wrong people for that injustice.

  11. Imagine an island with 100 natives who earn $1/day. This island produces food enough for 100 people.

    Now imagine that a big company, Boogle, has a boat that dumps off 50 of its workers on this island each evening and picks them up in the morning. These “Booglers” earn $10/day.

    The island’s agriculture can only produce food for 100, and now suddenly there are 150 inhabitants. Since the newcomers have far more purchasing power, what happens is as predictable as water making wet…

    The newcomers use their superior purchasing power to buy as much food as they want, and the original 100 starve.

    Yes, it’s kind of like that.

    Dumping large numbers of (relatively wealthier) workers into an overheated housing market with limited supply is absolutely irresponsible.

    The tech companies will continue this irresponsible, community-wrecking practice until either:
    A) they are legally required to stop doing it
    B) they are embarrassed into stopping it

    In the 1800’s, many American companies built worker housing. It’s not rocket science. The big-rich-smart tech companies can easily afford to provide a housing option for their workers, and to do it so well that it would be an attractive option for those workers.

    1. nutrisystem, your rather contrived example of an island misses at least one important factor here. SF is not an island. OK, it’s surrounded by water on three sides but, even so, there is an urban area surrounding it that measures probably 100 miles across from north to south (Santa Rosa to Gilroy/Santa Cruz) and maybe 50 miles east (Stockton/Tracy etc.)

      There’s about 4 million people who potentially might work in SF but have no need to live here.

      That’s a big part of why I think this is a faux problem. From what I see Oakland homes and rents are about half what they are in SF, and even cheaper still further out in the East Bay. and with freeways, ferries, buses and BART, there is no compulsion to live in SF even if your job is here.

      To the other, I think Americans as a people have turned away from the idea of worker camps located next to work. That idea probably peaked about 100 years ago. speaking personally, I do not want to live too close to my office. Nor do I want to keep running into my work colleagues everywhere I go.

      It’s that freedom thing, ya know?

      1. Hello John,
        I’ve been reading this thread with much anticipation and I commend you for your knowledge and insight.
        I’m a mid 20’s “artist” type, uneducated in real estate (actually pretty dumb in general) so bear that in mind as you (hopefully) read my thoughts:

        Unfortunately, I think you over exaggerated “…in SF the target of that intolerance is not blacks or gays…” Although SF is a “gay mecca”, racial differences are still an ongoing issue. Maybe we are “tolerant” with “blacks”–but I believe not quite so, and definitely the intolerance of the techies are on a completely different scale. When techies are given limited rights as did black people and gay people, your statement may stand relative.

        And is it about tolerance? No one stated that techies are evil satan followers–the protest against the shuttles and its techies was (as stated) for it’s iconic purposes. And then we have to ask the techies themselves–why the Mission?
        Yes, SF is a witty-bitty 7×7–but a property manager friend of mine has confided to me that there are currently at LEAST 50 BUILDINGS in SF that are empty. Some are “in-waiting” for the Ellis Act 5 years what-not, while some are empty due to personal reasons of landowners, or simply: the people who can afford the units (that fall in an average techie’s salary) do not want to move into the particular neighborhood. They prefer the Mission.
        (You stated that follow home sales–please clarify or refute my friend’s claim)

        And lastly–the “freedom thing”. People who make less than $70,000/year usually don’t have the freedom of choice in how close/how far we are from work.
        It’s not as though the workers from Walnut Creek who ride buses into the Mission to serve these techies are doing so because of their “freedom thing”. (Excuse my bitterness)

        Looking forward to hearing from you (hopefully)!!

        1. abitangry,

          The number of buildings that are kept empty in SF is very difficult to determine, because it is not required to report the non-utilization of a building. Nor is it required to report when a vacant unit is rented out.

          I’ve seen various guesses for the number of units held vacant, varying from 10,000 to as high as 35,000, although my own guess would be at the lower end of that range.

          Of course, many of those may be individual units within an otherwise occupied building, so your 50 may be correct for all I know.

          Many will be pending remodeling as well, or pending sale, so those numbers should be stripped out if you really want to know how many are being “hoarded”.

          The #1 reason I hear for hoarding vacant units is rent control. Market rent units are rarely left fallow.

          My “freedom” remark was describing a person’s freedom to move to a given locale, and not his financial ability to do so.

          As for tolerance, I think if people have a beef with a corporation, there are more considerate ways of conveying that anger without picking on a few unlucky employees and making them late for work.

    2. I like your analogy. To amplify, if your island example had private land ownership and wage slavery (which you imply), the land owner would get rich from his food sales to the Booglers and he would need to provide just enough wages and/or sustenance so that the people he needs to cultivate his land could survive; the rest would starve.

      If the orignal inhabitants cooperatively farmed the land, they’d be alright and the Booglers would have to find another island for a food source or help the original islanders increase the yield to provide for more inhabitants. Maybe with a web application!!

    3. Your story is intellectually dishonest.

      Imagine an island with 100 people making anywhere between 0 and $50 a day. Some of them work on a farm. Others live off family money. Others are too sick to work. Others come to the island each day from neighboring islands to work, and some people leave the island to go to neighboring islands.

      One day, an islander takes a job at a neighboring island at Boogle. She swims there and back every day. Over time, a few more people decide to work on the neighboring island, at Boogle, Bacebook, BMWare, BeeA, Benentech, Besla. There’s not a Now, it’s 4 of them making the swim each day.

      That’s a lot of people in the water, scuffing up the coral reef, dodging jellyfish. They decide to build a canoe instead.

    4. Nutrisystem, I agree with your general direction. Simply put the city needs more housing. There are many underutilized buildings that provide neither significant economic benefit nor housing. The city owns many acres of property. “Company housing” could develop the first group of structures and even some private raw land. The city could fast track below market rate housing in the land they own much like the attractive new structures in the Bay View. The problem, in my humble opinion, is that such development creates socio economic concentration. This by it’s more common name are ghettos. Yes, there can be wealthy ghettos as well. Such areas of concentration further divides a community. They, through out history be they Jewish, Irish, German or African American, have been divisive. What makes San Francisco great and why people want to come or stay here is that we have a spirit of inclusion. The city has tried to insure that each new development include a specific number of Below Market Rental units and that they optimally be included in the same location as the larger development. That is a good first step but the process of design, approval, and construction is by its very nature very complex. Translation: time consuming and costly. We, as a city, have fallen far behind the power curve here. I am of a mind that says, “welcome people who want to enjoy San Francisco and provide for those who made the city desirable”. I know that isn’t easy but that is what really progressive cities do. San Francisco and all of it’s residents should step up to the challenge and hence create a model for the world.

      1. Granted, the concentration of company housing is not an ideal solution. A whole new city, “New San Francisco”, with plenty of room to grow, would be much better.

        But until then, we need a fast solution.

        As everyone knows, housing construction within the existing fabric of SF is a painfully slow process – for valid reasons. It can simply never catch up with the demand caused by tech company growth.

        A worker housing MANDATE, on the other hand, can get things done fast.

        High density, deluxe company-built housing could go onto un or underutilized land (e.g. Industrial areas of the Peninsula, Mission Bay, Candlestick Park, San Bruno Mountain, Bayshore Train Yards, etc.). Putting tech giants in charge of providing a housing option for their employees harnesses the vast economic and political horsepower of these companies to get things done fast.

        An employee housing option wouldn’t forbid these employees from living in SF, it would simply attract enough of them to take much of the pressure off the existing supply.

        It would be good for the workers, who could – at least for a while – avoid the horrible apartment search. It would be good for the diversity of city by cooling off rent hyperinflation. And, it would be good for the companies, making it easier and cheaper for them to hire people… because guaranteed deluxe housing a stones throw from SF is a pretty nice perk.

        1. The problem with your “employer housing” idea isn’t the idea itself but rather the zeal with which you wish to mandate it. That has 2 problems:

          1) SF has no jurisdiction to mandate anything outside it’s borders

          2) Forcing people to live in specific places has some pretty unfortunate historical precedents.

          Also, an employee who loses his job will presumably also lose his job. A double whammy at a difficult time, no?

          1. San Francisco, or some other city could mandate worker-housing as a condition for construction of new office space in that city.

            Employees in such a system would not be “forced” to live anywhere, but would likely choose to accept the deluxe company-housing perk because it’s their best option.

            Yes, quitting or being fired would mean moving out of the company-housing, perhaps with a 6 month grace period. You usually don’t object to evictions, why in this case? I’m not worried about this, since newly unemployed Techies will likely have sufficient savings to find replacement housing.

          2. nutrisystem, but your idea as it benefits SF would only work if, say, Mountain View approved such a housing colony.

            That would be for the voters of MV to decide so there could be no mandatory aspect to it, except insofar as a tech company actually wants to create office space in SF.

            If your idea is purely voluntary, then I have no objection to it. Only the supposed mandatory aspect.

            Finally, most well-paid tech workers will probably want to buy a home rather than rent, once they are settled and doing well. And you cannot mandate where they buy a home, or where not.

          3. An interesting case study of a government mandate for the public good is the Santa Clara County-imposed “car trip cap” on Stanford University.

            Details for those interested:

            Traffic was becoming problematic in the areas adjacent to Stanford, so the county stepped up and made some rules.

            I’m sure this private university wasn’t happy about being told to do ANYTHING, but it all worked out well: Through a combination of carrots (like free Caltrain passes for employees) and sticks (like higher parking fees), the total number of car trips has been stable despite a 25% increase in personnel over the last 10 years.

            Smart planning (via government-imposed rules) can solve problems. That’s what makes us different from wild animals.

        2. What worries me is socio-economic concentration and isolation. All that comes to mind is a Disney (I think) development in Florida. I think the development is called Jubilation. Of course it welcomes all… that can afford it. I found it to be absolutely sterile. I guess that is why I live here not in that manicured village in Florida. I believe that the big influx of residents in San Francisco is because it is the anthesis of an exclusive incredibly controlled environment. Exclusive company towns regardless of their location is not what San Franciscans are all about. I love walking down Mission street drinking in the smells of every continent and fusions there of. So do all the people coming to the city to visit and live. That is also why long time San Franciscans like me want to stay. We must take a new approach one that holds our inclusionary nature and avoids creating an exclusive environment. We must find a way that places wealthy right next to those struggling to make ends meet. The benefits to both is monumental. When your children play together you come to understand each other. All this said, I cherish this forum because I feel it shapes the thinking of those who can lead the change. Keep up the formative thought.

    5. Man, I used to love Boogle. That was a kickass game. Way better than Scrabble, especially on car trips. I bet you could make a killing by inventing a Boogle app. I’d pay 99 cents for that shit, fer sure.

    6. Great idea about housing, nutrisystem. If tech companies were investing more into building enough housing in the bay area (and even contributing to extending Bart!), they’d be doing themselves and their employees a much greater service while minimizing their impact on other communities.

    7. Why haven’t the islanders been working on their skills in the many years that this has been going on? The information age didn’t just arrive. What responsibility does the islander have to keep their skills current? Why are so many of the islanders mentally ill or have addiction issues?

      1. The world is composed of many sorts of people living many sorts of lives – and to me, that’s a good thing.

        Not everybody has the ability to be a unix guru. And of those who do, many don’t have the DESIRE to be one.

        1. It’s perfectly OK for someone to decide that they don’t want to be a techie, or don’t want to live their lives in any way that establishes financial security.

          However, if they make that choice, then they must accept that they will have less options, and those may include the ability to live where they want to.

          That’s a choice each of us make for ourselves. But you cannot have it both ways i.e. duck all the lucrative career options and then expect to live in Pacific Heights (or even the Mission) on the budget that that implies.

          Someone who says to me “I want to work part-time and minimum wage so I can focus on my art” is fine as long as they also say “And I’ll move to Oakland to make that happen”.

          Where the problem arises is where they say the former and then demand an artificially cheap rent to stay in SF. Not on my dime and not on my watch.

          1. Your behavior has been a little better today (probably because several people called you out on it), and then you have to spoil it with the egotism and monomania of your last sentence.

          2. Truth tellers do not demur just because they are criticized. It’s always lonely to tell the truth when all around prefer myths.

            I make no apology for the last sentence because it was my conclusion i.e. that you are free to choose a path that earns you little but you are not free to then demand a subsidy to live here just because you think you are interesting.

            You make the mistake that many do here i.e. that you cannot hear an opinion you dislike without disliking the person expressing that opinion.

            But what I say is my truth and it would make me a coward to stifle it just because others fell threatened by it.

          3. I doubt anyone is threatened by what you say because at least 95% of it is facile and discredited.

            The lonely part I can believe. Hey, you are a hero in your own mind so that’s all that counts, right?

          4. If people here do not feel threatened, then why do they object so much to hearing the message?

            Given how easy it is to ignore someone whose sentiments they do not share, why the anger?

            It’s a perennial problem with liberals i.e. that they do not stop at disliking an idea – they have to go on and hate the person who states it.

            In that context, it is easy to understand why a liberal would blame an unlucky handful of Google employees for everything that they think is wrong with their lives.

            Why blame yourself when you can blame someone else?

          5. John: It’s obvious that people here dislike you more for the ways you lie and the fact that you consistently resort to class and race baiting in a feeble attempt to delegitimize the opinions of those who you disagree with, than the content of your message. If you ever tried to argue based solely on the legitimacy of your ideas, rather than attribute envy, anti-white racism or class warfare to those who disagree with you, you could expect to be responded to with less anger. However, then you would have argue based solely on the legitimacy of your ideas, and you have shown no indication that you can do so.

          6. No, it’s obvious that you have some issue with me. i take that as a sign that my journey here is necessary.

            I am not here to be liked. i am here tot ell the truth, even if that makes me unpopular.

          7. “i am here tot ell the truth” (sic)


            Everyone knows you’re a liar, John. You’ve been exposed in so many lies, by so many people on this site that it is absolutely hilarious that you continue to make any pretensions at truth telling with a straight face. Quit while you’re behind.

          8. No, everybody doesn’t know that at all. But it seems mighty important for you to believe that so, knock yourself out.

          9. I’ll make you a bet, John.

            Stop lying and engaging in class-baiting and race-baiting on this site, and I bet that people (on this site) will start treating you better too.

          10. You want me to say things I do not believe in just to be more popular?

            IOW, you want me to have no integrity just to be liked by someone on an anonymous chatroom?

          11. Don’t misrepresent what I said yet again, John.

            You can still say what you believe.
            I was merely making you a bet that if you stop lying, class-baiting and race-baiting to make your points, you would not provoke the same level of hostility.

            Think you could handle that?

          12. The “hostility here” is restricted to you and, to be honest, I kinda enjoy having that effect on you.

            If you really wanted me to post less, you’d stop baiting and stalking me.

          13. Okay, so you can’t handle it.
            As I believe in the truth and abhor class-baiting and race-baiting, I’m afraid I probably won’t be able to stop correcting you if you can’t stop engaging in those activities.

            As numerous people on this site treat you hostilely and call you a troll, it’s ridiculous to claim that that’s an activity restricted to me. I was merely trying to inform you that the hostility you whine about receiving is the direct result of your own hostile and deplorable attitude. What is is about you conservatives that make you so utterly opposed to personal responsibility?

          14. Wrong. sure a few people disagree with me – i’d expect that.

            But only you stalk me endlessly, reply to every post of mine, and come across as obsessed.

            In real life, I’d have called the cops by now. But since it’s just an anonymous chatroom, I’ll simply revel in the fact that I have clearly wound you up.

          15. We’re both replying to each other, Einstein. Sometimes I leave a comment, and you reply to it, and sometimes you leave a comment and I reply to it. For you to claim that it’s solely me who’s “stalking” you would mean you’d have to stop replying to my comments elsewhere.

          16. I enjoy string you along and making you my dancing bitch. But, as with all things, it gets tedious eventually.

            I predict you will respond.

          17. Ah, so standing refuted and humiliated, you are forced to respond with insults like the petulant child you are. 🙂

            Dance for me child, Dance! I command it.

          18. Please explain again, from the beginning, how I told you the Castro should be last gay. I look forward to hear the justification for your latest bit of homophobic trolling.

    8. I think the worst alternative is a company town for tech workers. The second worst is isolating them at the edges of civilization (Mountain View). Among other things, Snowden showed the absolute value of integrating tech workers into larger more diverse communities, where they can be exposed to different, diverse, even “radical” ideas (like the 4th Amendment). The moral and ethical issues at the heart of their working lives cannot be realistically raised or discussed in hermetically sealed tech “campuses”. Nor, again thanks to Snowden, can we in the non-tech community leave this discussion to the techies. Unfortunately it is not an exaggeration to say these men and women have a great deal of our personal lives as well as our collective future at their finger tips. It is imperative they use the power they have bravely and wisely. The Mission is not just a strip of chic bars and overpriced housing. We’ve got a history that’s deep and diverse; we’ve got culture, we’ve got politics. Alienating techies won’t preserve the Mission, won’t save anybody from eviction. There is no contradiction in working to modify or reverse gentrification while at the same time welcoming the newcomers. We want them to get to know the Mission. Not the Mission the tourists see, but the very special, very quirky, Mission the people who live here experience, the Mission we so passionately want to preserve. I think we’ve got some very important things to share. Let them learn.

      1. Well said, Mark. This hatred that is being directed at a group pf people based solely on their occupation, overlaid with a bunch of dubious stereotypes, is as inappropriate as it is bigoted.

        We must welcome all kinds of people into our community, and not just those who we deem to be ideologically pure.

        And the idea of a worker encampment, frankly, is abhorrent. If someone suggested that all blacks be moved to a camp outside the city borders because it would lower crime, they would be shouted down. Yet apparently it is deemed OK to move all tech workers?

        Not very tolerant at all.

        1. It is impossible to “welcome all kinds of people into our community” when obscene housing prices exclude 99.9% of the population.

          Housing cost hyperinflation results in ECONOMIC APARTHEID – a complete destruction of human diversity.

          Neither John nor Mark has a magical solution as to how the Mission can maintain human diversity in the face of Tech-caused skyrocketing housing costs, because it’s impossible.

          Diversity and sky-high rents are mutually exclusive. You can only pick one.

          (P.S. John will pick sky-high rents, because his whole existence is about making money off real estate.)

          1. nutrisystem, there is a huge assumption there i.e. that the only people who can afford Mission rents are white male tech workers, and similar. I dispute that for two major reasons:

            1) Rent control assures that there is a large number of people in the Mission with low rents. You’ll probably counter with “Ellis” but in the nearly 20 years the Ellis Act has been around, less than 1% of SF rental buildings have been Ellis’ed.

            2) Not everyone who works at a tech company is a white male. There are lots of women and asians, and a number of blacks, hispanics and any other favorite minority group that you like. Tech businesses are like many other businesses in that they attract a wide variety of people. Stereotypes don’t work any better there than anywhere else.

            Of course, if you really think a lack of diversity should be fixed, then why aren’t you trying to get more non-Asians into Chinatown, more straights and non-whites into the Castro, and more non-blacks into Hunters Point?

            There are entire blocks of the Mission I can walk down and never see a white male at all. It’s more diverse than you can shake a stick at.

          2. And it’s not about the players, it’s about the game.

            Some of my best friends are techies. But a world of ONLY techies would suck profoundly.

          3. nutrisystem, I know many people who have bought a home in the Mission recently who are not techies.

            Do you actually have any figures of the percentage of Mission residents who work in Tech? Or are you just reacting to the headlines about google buses?

      2. I think the criticism is that San Francisco itself is becoming too much of a company town for tech workers. If the tech workers moving in don’t engage in the pre-existing community and stick to their private cliques, then they won’t be exposed to different, diverse or “radical” ideas no matter where they live. I agree it would be better for all involved if the anti-gentrification and tech workers could find common ground and work towards common solutions. However, I don’t see the level of interest or engagement by very many of our new neighbors that implies they want to have anything to do with the community.

        1. Do you oppose other non-diverse neighborhoods them? Like the Castro, ChinaTown and Bayview?

          Do you have statistics for the percentage of SF residents who work in tech? I don’t but I’d guess it is still less than 10%.

          Change is uncomfortable for some people, while others embrace it. ‘Twas always so and always will be.

          1. Not at all. You stated that you think neighborhoods should be diverse so I was listing some SF neighborhoods that are not, and inviting you to confirm that those are less desirable neighborhoods from your perspective.

            You also stated that SF is become a “one company town” and I was inviting you to furnish statistics to support that claim.

          2. I was not talking about other neighborhoods, nor did I state that SF has become a “one company town”. Your response was going off topic and trying to make it about my personal opinion about different neighborhoods, when my original comment was clearly not.

          3. Fyodor, here is your comment about a “one company town”:

            I think the criticism is that San Francisco itself is becoming too much of a company town for tech workers.

            I know you were talking only about the Mission. But I was curious as to whether your preference for diversity extends to all neighborhoods or is specific only to one neighborhood?

          4. Thank you for admitting that you misrepresented what I had stated and that you were trying to personalize and take the subject off topic by asking me about other neighborhoods.

          5. Quoting your own words back at you is misrepresenting you?

            1) Where are your stats showing that Sf is becoming a “one company town”?

            2) Why do you want some SF neighborhoods to be diverse but apparently do not care if other neighborhoods are not?

            Still waiting for answers.

          6. I said the criticism is that San Francisco is becoming a one company town. Do you deny that this is the kind of argument many people are making?

            And again, you’re other question is deliberately getting presumptuously personal and entirely off topic. You can stop waiting for an answer to that one, because I refuse to answer such a trollish question from such a discredited commenter.

          7. I heard that people are making the argument that the earth is flat. Of course, I don’t believe that – i am just noting that people say that.

            I;m not making anything personal. I am trying to understand your concern that the Mission might becoming less diverse, and wondering whether that is a concern that we should have for other neighborhoods, or just the Mission?

            IOW, is it a Mission problem or a city-wide problem?

          8. I was merely asking you to explain a couple of your statements. Since you cannot, and get angry about it, we can leave it there.

          9. You would obviously prefer to keep trolling. But what more could we expect from someone who believes the following question deserves a serious answer?

            “Why do you want some SF neighborhoods to be diverse but apparently do not care if other neighborhoods are not?”

          10. I was trying to understand where you thought a lack of diversity was a problem and where it was not.

            But since you cannot answer that question, we can leave it at that.

          11. Lol.

            As I said before you started repeating yourself, I refuse to respond to your stupefyingly trollish questions.

            I could… But I won’t 🙂

          12. As your questions were overly personal and off topic, and your behavior in the past has been quite hostile and trollish, I can’t imagine you’re surprised.

          13. IOW, I caught you out with two non sequiturs and you turned things personally rather than be a man and admit you were refuted.


          14. Hahaha

            The depths of your idiocy are endlessly amusing.
            You can’t “catch” someone with a non-sequitur!

            Look up the definition of non-sequitur you silly, silly man. I can’t believe I’ve schooled you in latin twice in two days!

          15. Nope, Bayview.

            Fyodor, how can we fix the problem of there being too many blacks there? It’s just not diverse.

          16. There you go, putting words in other people’s mouths again. Oh well since you failed so miserably at being right, I guess the least I can do is let you be last.

      3. News flash: “techies” are diverse. And they read the newspaper, walk around in their community, shop at the local shops, like burritos like everyone else, etc., etc. you’re acting like they are some weird creature unfamiliar with urban life. That’s just silly.

  12. Excellent article, seemingly a subject that can continue to be investigated more deeply. If not the tech crowd, then who are the people that are multiple over-bidding on home sales and buying multi-units, renovating to ultra-luxury and driving everything up into the stratosphere?

    1. Ben, I can answer your question, at least anecdotally, since I closely follow home sales in SF.

      Bear in mind that the average SF home costs 800K. A lot compared with some places, for sure, but then the average family income in SF is about 80K, meaning that half of all households make more than that.

      In particular, a couple who each make 100K are only paying 4 times their annual income on a home – easily affordable at today’s low mortgage rates.

      There are the kids of buyers i am seeing right now:

      1) Empty nesters – older folks returning from the burbs sans kids. Often pay cash.

      2) The pink dollar – gay couple with no kids and fat jobs. At least in 94114 and the surrounding.

      3) Tech millionaires. Twitter created 1,600 cash millionaires and they all ahve to live somewhere

      4) Upwardly mobile tenants who buy a TIC and then want to trade up as they need more space.

      1. The word “average” does not mean what you think it means. The average is what you get when you add all the points up and divide by how many there are. This is not the same as the “median”, which is the point where half are above and half are below. (The median is equal to the average if the distribution is symmetric– but income distribution is not symmetric. There are a small number of highly wealthy people which skews the average up, while not moving the median much. Nor is this just in San Francisco; it’s national. Hence the rhetoric about the “1%”.)

        Unfortunately, this means that your back-of-the-envelope calculations that equivalence “average” with “typical” proceed from a false premise, and thus fail to reflect the reality of the local housing market.

        1. He’s actually close when he misuses “average” to mean median because the median household income in SF is in the mid 70 thousands.

          His narrative falls of the rails when he jumps from “average” (really median) to “typical” as a two person $200,000 per year couple.

          1. landline, you are correct and Staphan is wrong. My use of the word “average” was median, since that is the figure that is widely published as being around 80K or a little under.

            I didn’t say a 200K a year couple was typical, but there are certainly a lot of them around. High earners are often attracted to others at a similar level of education and profession.

            And the median income of a home-owning family will be well above 80K since that is the richest one third of SF’ers.

            So there are clearly enough 200K couples to buy all the average homes for sale in SF, because they all sell quickly.

            Since the percentage of homes that are offered for sale in any one year is small, it doesn’t take many affluent households to buy them all up.

      2. Jiohn, I’m disappointed in your fact checking. You protect and glorify tech workers, but you cannot properly use the tools they create.

        So first, the median SF price is now 1M. This was really all over the news recently, including internationally.

        Also you describe ‘average’, incorrectly when you actually mean the median.

        Thirdly, you provide a numbered list implicating that there is some order to your info. Very sneaky but with no evidence. Really, you want people to believe that retirees are the responsible for economics displacement? They are the ones filling the restaurants and bars you’ve alluded to? Obviously, you are nowhere near SF, I suggest you come down and visit and see for yourself.

        Finally, upwardly mobile tenants, really? Maybe you haven’t heard but the median price is 1M. Do you know Of working professional families living in a 1 br with kids? Unable to upgrade?

        Thank heavens the tech workers are more educated because you would have no venue for crafting ridiculous arguments at will. And others would have no venue to correct your slanted opinions for all to see and learn.

        1. B2B, you are correct that I meant median and wrong about the rest.

          There was no significance to the order of my numbered list other than that it was the order in which I thought of them.

          There was a piece on ML recently about how the buyers of the new condos at Mission and 19th were older, and the empty nester returning to downtown is hardly a new story.

          I didn’t see the article claiming that the average SF home costs a million. The average of homes being sold recently may be higher than the median because a lot of high-spec condos are being completed.

          Obviously tenants who are buying homes are buying at well below the median price (unless they get IPO or inheritance lucky). TIC’s are available at half the median price. The tow TIC owners i know are a teacher and a nurse.

  13. In the end, this seems like little more than the age-old resentment and envy that the poor have often felt towards those who are more successful.

    No doubt these Google employees wanted to live in SF rather than the suburbs because of the city’s famed tolerance and liberal values, only to find out that SF can be just as intolerant as many other places.

    It’s just that in SF the target of that intolerance is not blacks or gays, but people in certain professions. And, as this article shows, many tech employees are just ordinary working people and not disciples of Satan.

    1. To suggest that anger over gentrification and rent hyperinflation is just as bad as racism/homophobia is breathtakingly stupid. I agree that the anger is misplaced when it’s directed at tech employees and our mode of transportation. But as a tech employee in SF, I’m not going to pretend that the anger expressed around this issue is in any way similar to the real-life oppression faced by racial minorities and queer folks. But holla at me when states start banning techies from getting married, or when cops start stopping and frisking Apple employees.

      1. Ross, while the way such intolerance manifests itself may vary, the principle remains the same. It works like this:

        First folks classify people into carefully selected groups. Then they stereotype those groups, i.e. associate the entire class of people with something bad (crime, gentrification). And then the rationalization is present to somehow hate on the chosen class.

        Home prices are expensive in SF for a complex variety of reasons, and not because a couple of employers in the south bay put on a couple of shuttle buses twice a day.

        As a resident of this city I no more want to see tech workers stigmatized than I want to see blacks discriminated against. Life is too complex for such simplistic hate notions to be relevant, especially in a town renowned for its tolerance and alleged respect for differences.

        1. You’re right, the housing affordability crisis is complex. And as I said, directing the hate at tech workers and our method of commuting is misguided– the real cause of the problem has much more to do with decades of not building enough housing, and the fact that building affordable housing is not very profitable for developers.

          Of course stigmatizing and generalizing any group is wrong. But to act like the anger directed at tech workers is similar to the hate directed at minorities is absurd. As a techie, the worst kind of “discrimination” that I might face is someone yelling something mean at me as I’m boarding my luxury bus to work. This would be an unfortunate occurrence, but it’s not even in the same league as the very real discrimination faced by racial minorities and queer people.

          I agree with you– I want the tech hate to stop so people in our city can come together and focus on real solutions. But acting like upper-middle class tech workers are oppressed is counterproductive– it just reinforces the false notion that techies are entitled and oblivious to the suffering of others.

    2. If you’re really reducing this conflict to such a facile argument–class envy!– then I’ve overestimated you.

      1. Russo, are you denying that there is any aspect of this apparent dislike of Google employees other than a noble concern for one’s fellow man?

        And not a shred of envy anywhere?

        When the poor act out in opposition to the rich, we need to be absolutely sure that their behavior isn’t just self-serving.

        If I see a billionaire walking down the street, I feel admiration, not envy or dislike. Can you say the same thing on behalf of everyone who protests the status quo?

    3. This is like blaming Occupy for the small number of Black Bloc troublemakers who smashed windows while tens of thousands protested peacefully.

      There are always going to be extremists who cause legitimate protesters to be unfairly painted as intolerant by people like you.

  14. It’s disturbing that protesters would pose as Google employees and act rudely to stir up hostility in the neighborhood. It’s a very dishonest way of protesting.

    These buses provide a valuable service and supplement our inferior transportation system. I’m glad the city is working out a way to formally accommodate them.

    1. A protester posed as a Google employee, and he did it without the agreement or knowledge of the other protesters.

      While the buses have been clearly breaking the law for awhile now, I’m glad tech companies are recognizing the harmful effects the buses are having on the community and are taking steps to rectify their abuses with the city.

    2. Again what about tourist busses? In my opinion they are more obstrusive and operate incessanctly. Not fair to single out policy on employee transportation.

    3. We are traditionalists here in The City, which is why we still have our electric buses with archaic wires overhead that all other cities ripped out and dumped. Rather than modernizing The Mission into a suburb, we aspire to revert it to a village. Having these behemoths rolling around in our neighborhood horribly vitiates that aspiration. ALL of these massive double decker buses should be banned from The Mission including the casino buses that take hard-earned money out of our neighborhood. People who want to ride in them should be doing it downtown, for instance at 7th & Market.

      1. I agree about the casino buses. I’ve always wondered why they were tolerated… they must be either paying the city to look the other way or paying the walgreens to park outside.

        I’ve never really thought of San Franciscan’s as traditionalists, but your argument rings true. It seems the aspiration of every neighborhood is to be it’s own unique village/world, each with our own “downtown” strips, an assortment of all the necessary village stores and each with our own cherished institutions and beloved stereotypes. Only downtown and the crumbling industrial areas such as Soma and Mission Bay have really been acceptable venues for development to us San Franciscans, and with good reason. Every time an artisanally crafted, majestic Victorian building burns or is torn down, it’s invariably replaced with a cheaply made and grotesque stacked box design… and I wince inside every time I’m forced to walk past it (and I’m sure I’m not alone).

        They just don’t make them like they used to. ;(