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Google Employee Buses Now Have Bodyguards
To Protect them From SF Citizens Made Homeless by Tech Boom

 1:52 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google's buses were at the center of demonstrations by housing activists who were protesting the thousands of evictions carried out in San Francisco on behalf of higher paying tech workers like those who take the limousine bus to Google every day.

As reported in SFGate: [blog.sfgate.com]

"Dressed casually in jeans and wearing black ski hats or hoods, the two men did not stand out from the dozens of other young tech workers waiting for the Google bus. On close inspection, each sported the curly wire of an earpiece, and one occasionally jotted notes down on a yellow stick-it pad."



 7:24 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

good move. there were hostile people blocking the buses.

IIRC, one had a window broken.

wonder if the security guys will be wearing google glasses


 10:36 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

I'm not *that* old but everyday I get a little more disgusted with the growing number of people in this country (U.S.) who have the attitude of the people "demonstrating" in SanFran.

I mean really, this is their argument: "I want to live here but since you want to live here I can no longer afford to live here soooo... you shouldn't want to live here so I can... mmm'k, thanks."


 10:47 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thousands of evictions? That's not nice. If people have lost their homes it could be catastrophic for them and their families so they can't be blamed for being upset.

Perhaps the demonstrators should be targeting those who evicted them rather than the Google people.


 12:08 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hey Shepherd, it's not a matter of people protesting because they can't afford to live in the area. They're protesting because of unfair but legal evictions under a California law called the Ellis Act [sfgate.com] where they take rental units off the market and turn them into a Tenancy in Common, a TIC. It's like a condo. That's just one prong of the evictions. There are other kinds of evictions happening where folks who are paying their legal rent are forced out of their apartments against their will to make room for higher paying young tech workers.


 2:59 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

Given the laws protecting tenants I would argue that such evictions are not unfair. I would be willing to bet that current tenants are given the option of staying provided they pay the market value rent. After-all, the landlord does not care if the tenant is a highly paid tech worker or not, only that they get a fair market value rent for their property. I doubt that the tenants being evicted have long term leases that are being broken, more likely that they are month-to-month tenants and subject to rent increases.

Show me a tenant that was willing to pay fair market value rent that was evicted and I will agree there's a problem, otherwise, all we're talking about is another "entitlement" issue.


 3:54 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

I don't know any details of what is happening to these people........
But, rent increases are fair enough, so long as they are in line with, something like, the national cost of living rises. It's not fair to raise rents by 3 or 4 fold, or whatever, just because a landlord can get that from other tenants.
Are there no tenants rights laws in California? Or is it still like the wild west there?
On the other hand, I have never been in favour of violence at demonstrations. Despicable!


 4:27 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's not fair to raise rents by 3 or 4 fold, or whatever, just because a landlord can get that from other tenants.

Fair is actually it's first name: "Fair Market Value"

That's how we determine the price of things in a market driven world, price is based on what the market will bear, supply and demand, not some arbitrary number or multiplier. Rents in San Francisco avg over $3,000/month, that what the market will bear, but tell someone in rural Idaho they have to pay $3k/month for a one bed apartment and you might got smacked.


 5:01 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

Region to region is not the issue, here, I feel.

So, if one day your 'fair' rent is $1200/month and the next day your 'fair' rent, for the same property, is $3000/month, it's OK to change it up? Doesn't sound very fair, to me, at least.
How and who decides what is fair? Sounds like it's the landlord.

Sounds like a system that only works for the landlord (who should get a fair rent for his investment, by the way).
I guess, of course, that the local govt gets their fair share, from tax, so they don't care either way....

I'm sure the lower paying tenants were paying a 'fair' rent, when they took on their leases. My feeling is that they should have their contracts honoured.
Sure, the cost of living rises, but, are you saying, a landlord has the right to turn the market into a 'free for all' money earning scheme, whatever the human cost?

Some would say, 'business is business', I'd call it, 'dog eat dog'. Nice way to live, not.

I'm wondering if the community will be suffering in the long run, when there are no low paid workers around, in the future.
And, where will those workers be? I guess they'll all be living on the streets, creating an eyesore for all those 'rich folk'.


 5:49 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

"Fair" is a matter of perception, "fair market value" is something completely different, fair market value is determined mostly by what someone is willing to pay for something. If one day people are willing to pay $1200 and the next they are willing to pay $3000 than $3000 is the fair market value.

All the landlords in SF could get together and set their rent at $100,000 but if no one is willing to pay it, it doesn't work does it. That's a free market where value is determined by what people are willing to pay.

But now we have to listen to the entitled ones who protest the "inequality", they are mad that people make more money than they do, mad that people are willing to pay a higher rent than they are. From the San Jose Mercury New: "The protesters insist their anger is not aimed at the tech workers themselves, but rather at the inequities highlighted by the tech industry, which generates enormous wealth that provides big paychecks and attractive perks". The have-nots, if they spent less time protesting inequities and trying to bring everyone down to their level and more time being productive they might join the haves.


 7:31 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hmmmmmmm...... Nah! Not in my book, but then we'll just have to agree to differ.....

.......and get back on topic. ;)


 3:20 pm on Jan 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

My wife and I discussed this a few evenings ago. I'm a San Francisco native, she's someone who came there for the arts and cultural scene as well as for the beauty of the city itself. My wife's opinion was that she thought the tech workers were inadvertently creating an elite class of themselves that keeps them apart from non-tech citizens.

Googlers and many of the other tech workers are disconnected to San Francisco because they live in a bubble. This is inadvertent, not planned. It's an outgrowth of the fact that the tech campuses in Santa Clara and Mountain View were built on former farmland. Yahoo's campus was once an orchard. Google's campus was also formerly farmland and an orchard. It was necessary to build self-contained campuses because there were no cafes, restaurants, drug stores nearby. There was nothing outside of the campuses.

There is no reason to continue the practice in San Francisco, but they continue it anyway out of blind habit because they see it as a perk. Ironically, just as SEOs continue to prefer PR 4+ links unaware of the historical reasons why, Google continues to build self-contained campuses without knowing why the practice started.

1. Googlers work in a bubble that allows them to not interact with their neighborhood because everything they need is provided by the company at work so they don't have to leave the building.

2. Googlers ride home in a bubble that allows them to avoid having to breathe the same air as the blacks, the hispanics, the chinese and the lower and middle class whites that ride the public buses.

3. Googlers and tech workers live in a bubble that keeps them unaware of the reality of homelessness, panhandlers, the world around them. They consistently act surprised when they see it.

Here's an article from November 2013 written by former SF Mayor Willie Brown that offered advice to head off these kinds of protests. It's called Techies must nip growing scorn in bud [sfgate.com]. Willie Brown was mayor of SF during the last tech boom, a can-do mayor who was vastly superior to the inept mayors who immediately preceded him. He offered the following insight and prescient advice:

There's a war brewing in the streets of San Francisco, and a lot of people could get caught up in it if the tech world doesn't start changing its self-centered culture.

Every day in every way, from rising rents to rising prices at restaurants to its private buses, the tech world is becoming an object of scorn. It's only a matter of time before the techies' youthful lustre fades, and they're seen as just another extension of Wall Street.

And when that happens, tenant advocates, community activists, labor unions and Occupy types are going to start asking why we're giving away the city to all these white-male-dominated businesses that don't even hire locals.

At which point, the politicians will do what they always do - count votes. And by my last count, for all of their hype and money, tech types were still a decidedly small part of the vote. If they even vote at all.

Googlers shouldn't be receiving an additional bubble to insulate them from San Francisco. That's the wrong approach. Tech companies should do the opposite. Google should begin dismantling the bubbles that cocoon their workers if they intend to keep living and doing business in what was formerly one of the most beautiful cities.


 10:55 pm on Jan 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

And now they'll have their own terminal:
Google founders' private air terminal cleared for takeoff
Wonder how many terminals will be built, with helicopters to gated communities?
Many small businesses and corporations do act like good citizens and work with communities.


 4:24 am on Jan 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

This seems to be breaking news...
Silicon Valley firms to pay fee for commuter shuttles amid tech backlash [reuters.com].

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