Protesters Smash Google Shuttle Bus Piñata In Fight Against Rent Increases

Posted: May 7, 2013 in Technology
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20130507-092738.jpg. Sick of high-paid tech employees driving up rent
prices, protestors in San Francisco’s Mission
neighborhood held a “Anti-Gentrification Block Party”
and beat on a Google bus piñata before cops broke
up the crowd. The area has long been home to artists
and Mexican-American families, but they’re being forced out as techies move in, their employers set up
shuttle stops, and housing prices skyrocket. Mission district blog Uptown Almanac’s Kevin
Montgomery was on the scene. He describes 30 to 40
people assembled at the neighborhood’s 16th street
Bay Area Rapid Transit station. The spot is one of the
dirtiest in the city — in stark contrast to fancy
Valencia street just one block over where software engineers frequent posh restaurants and pricey bike
shops. Google, Apple, and Facebook all have shuttle bus
stops in the neighborhood making it easy for their
employees to live in the hip district while commuting
south to Silicon Valley in style. The buses have
become a symbol of gentrification. Dozens of police
officers surrounded the rally, fearing it might devolve into violence. Last May a riot broke out in
neighborhood with many businesses vandalized with
“Yuppies Out” graffiti. Montgomery says that around 2:30pm yesterday “the
[protestors] did string up the piñata to a makeshift
fishing pole and beat it mercilessly” as seen in the
video below from YouTube user Krionni. Soon after,
the police swarmed in and dispersed the group. As a three-year resident of the Mission, I’ve seen the
influx of money from the rise of Apple and Google’s
stock plus the Facebook IPO change its character.
When the San Francisco Giants won the World
Series, local techies came out to spectate and record
the chaos with their iPads. Cheap grocery stores and eateries have been going out of business, while
trendy bars and cafes move in. Rent increased 29%
from 2011 to 2012 alone. Unfortunately, I’ve haven’t seen the tech giants
who’ve colonized the neighborhood do much to give
back. Funding some local education or beautification
initiatives could go a long way to reducing the
gentrification backlash.

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