Tensions are flaring over San Francisco’s tech-driven gentrification. This morning, protestors calling for an end to the increasing number of evictions blocked a Google bus from leaving the city and shuttling its workers to the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. One Google worker inside the bus named Alejandor Villarreal, captured the scene and shared it on Instagram (pictured above).
The privately-owned Google buses (and their counterparts at companies like Facebook and Apple) have long been symbols of the city’s gentrification (a hidden map of their routes was published last January). Earlier this year, San Francisco native Rebecca Solnit published a piece in the London Review of Books on the impact of the buses. Solnit wrote:
The Google Bus means so many things. It means that the minions of the non-petroleum company most bent on world domination can live in San Francisco but work in Silicon Valley without going through a hair-raising commute by car – I overheard someone note recently that the buses shortened her daily commute to 3.5 hours from 4.5. It means that unlike gigantic employers in other times and places, the corporations of Silicon Valley aren’t much interested in improving public transport, and in fact the many corporations providing private transport are undermining the financial basis for the commuter train. It means that San Francisco, capital of the west from the Gold Rush to some point in the 20th century when Los Angeles overshadowed it, is now a bedroom community for the tech capital of the world at the other end of the peninsula.
Read Solnit’s essay in full over at the London Review of Books. As well-paid tech workers have moved into the city, many working class residents have been forced out as both rents and evictions have increased in recent years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The protest was organized in part by a group called Heart of the City, which wrote on its website that “the city needs to declare a state of emergency, stop all no-fault evictions, and prevent tech companies from running buses in residential neighborhoods, which is driving up rents (up to 20% along their route)..”