Protesters halt Google's commuter bus in San Francisco

Dozens of activists gathered in SF to protest against tech companies, saying they're the cause of the city's eviction crisis.
December 9, 2013 7:50:13 PM PST
People are angry in one San Francisco neighborhood over what they call an invasion by dozens of private shuttle buses operated by tech companies that take their employees to and from work.

They are large buses that ferry people to and from Silicon Valley and they drive around in the Mission District during the evening commute. The buses are from companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Genentech and often stop at public bus stops in the Mission District, which sometimes cause problems for traffic and for buses operated by Muni.

During the morning commute hour on Monday a group of activists decided that they had enough and marched right onto Valencia and 24th streets.

Protesters say they were just doing what the city wouldn't: Penalizing Google for parking at a city bus stop.

"They're not allowed to use these bus stops. They don't have a permit, they use over 200 of them in the city, and stop there, thousands and thousands of times," San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency spokesperson Leslie Dreyer said.

The fine would be $271 if it were enforced.

Protesters say the city might be a billion dollars richer if they did ticket every shuttle. They're trying to make a point.

"This bus is a symbol of the housing crisis that's happening now in San Francisco. And how the city is becoming increasingly unaffordable," Eviction Free SF spokesperson Deepa Varma said.

The busses embody gentrification to many people in the neighborhood.

As tech workers move in, rent goes up. And families who've lived in the area for years are being priced out.

One protester pretended to work for Google to get his point across.

"Look I can pay my rent. Can you pay your rent?" Well then you know what, why don't you go to a city where you can afford it?" one protester shouted.

But real techies in the neighborhood are a bit more torn.

"I feel bad for the people who are being kicked out of their home. But I am one of those tech people, so it's good for me," Mission District resident Sarah Afsari said.

However, it's not so good for the driver of that Google bus.

"I think it's not fair," one bus driver said.

Jonathan Bloom: "Why is that?"

"You have to let people go to work," the bus driver added.

Some people say the money being spent by the tech workers is helping the neighborhood.

"They have ample income to spend, so they are spending it. A lot of the bars and restaurants are constantly packed, you always see that," Mission District resident Cliff Haack said.

Police cleared the protesters off of the street, but this may not be the end.

In a statement, Google said: "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 on a policy on shuttles in the city."


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