San Francisco Protesters Stop Apple Shuttle, Demand an End to Evictions

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Protesters in San Francisco stopped an Apple employee shuttle bus on Friday. The group—San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency—is demanding an end of evictions in the city, evictions they blame on wealthy employees from Apple, Google, and the other Bay Area tech giants for driving up rent.

Yes, the group does have a website: HeartOfTheCity.org.

Many of these companies provide private busses that bring employees from San Francisco to Silicon Valley offices in San Jose, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and other cities south of the city. The Apple bus was the second such shuttle targeted by protesters, as a Google bus was stopped by the same group two weeks ago in Oakland.

Here's a video of Friday's Apple bus protest posted by Joe Fitz Rodriguez:

In addition to the issue of rising rents, the protesters accuse the busses of using city bus stops without permission. According to a flier handed out at the Google bus protest, tech giants use 200 San Francisco Muni stops 7,100 times every day without paying and without permission.

They're demanding an end of evictions in the city, and they want the tech giants to pony up a combined US$1 billion, a figure based on charging them for two years of using the bus stops. That's $192.94 per stop, though it's unclear how that figure was derived.

The SFDNIA wants that money to be used for funding affordable housing, defending against evictions, public transit improvements, and legislation to prevent real estate speculators from using California law to evict tenants.

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At the heart of the complaint are three primary factors. The first is that San Francisco is almost entirely made out of awesome, but it's also a small city entirely constrained by geography. The third is that tech companies have never been more successful, and tech employees are reaping the benefits of that.

When you mix those three things into one melting pot, you get rising rents. That's the free market at work, and this sort of thing has always led to friction in cities because it leads to new people displacing long-time residents.

It's not fair to the individuals effected, but is it realistic to blame those who are successful? More importantly, is this an issue that can be legislated away? I'm unaware of any successful efforts to do so.

At the same time—and this is something the protesters don't seem to be publicly acknowledge—all that tech wealth that leads to higher rents has also played a big role in San Francisco being such a great place to live. San Francisco collects a lot of taxes that ultimately flows from rich Silicon Valley tech giants, and those taxes do contribute to the city's well being.

Tech wealth has also funded and attracted arts and cultural events throughout the Bay Area, and that includes San Francisco. This has been the case for decades, and if you doubt that, take a walk through San Francisco today and then watch any of the gillion cop films made in San Francisco in the 1970s. Which version would you rather live in?

All that said, the protesters have a point about public transit infrastructure. Use of the city's bus stops does cost San Francisco money in terms of infrastructure maintenance. I doubt the group's numbers—both in terms of number of uses and the cost of that usage—but there is no doubt that tech busses are making thousands of stops on most days. it seems reasonable that the large corporations using that infrastructure should contribute something to the system that provides it.

Ultimately, the SFDNIA is out to bring attention to the issues that concern them, and rising rents in San Francisco are a very real issue. Considering the generally liberal attitude of many in the tech industry, it's even possible that the resulting conversation stemming from this group's action could lead to something interesting.

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Comments

gdelenes

MacObserver there is one proposed solution.
#ReformEllisAct the law allowing real state speculators to target the homes of long term rent control tenants (those very people making SF what it is).

here is the link to the petition http://bit.ly/reformellis

iVoid

I didn’t think Apple had any sizable offices in SF to need a shuttle here.

Bryan Chaffin

iVoid, the shuttle brings people from San Francisco to Cupertino. It’s a perk most of the large SV companies offer these days.

Roland Estrada

The market is what it is. If you don’t like it move elsewhere. The world is not obliged to coddle you because you feel put upon.

akcarver

I went to SF a few years ago for a Jeopardy! tryout. I was there for a day, and I hated it. I would not want to live there for any reason.

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