A bus filled with workers on their daily commute to the Googleplex was targeted by anti-gentrification protesters in San Francisco yesterday morning. Protesters demanded $1 billion–the amount they say that the city loses in fines from the buses’ illegal stops at municipal bus stops.
The protest was enlivened by what was originally thought to be a disgruntled Google employee mounting a verbal attack on the protesters. “You can’t pay your rent? I’m sorry. Get a better job. … This is a city for the right people who can afford it. You can’t afford it? You can leave.” He was later outed as union official and performance artist Max Bell Alper.
Rents in the city have increased by 10% over the past year, and the influx of tech workers is said to be causing the eviction of tenants unable to afford the higher rates. San Francisco’s mayor, however, is keen on the tech industry’s presence in the city, aware that it won’t take much for the bigger tech firms to move and set up their own employee communities outside the city, a concept that Facebook is already exploring.
Earlier this year, the Freespace experiment rented a disused building in San Francisco and handed it over to tech workers for one month, in return for working on the city’s outstanding civic issues.