— Steve Rhodes (@tigerbeat) December 9, 2013
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) was again the target of protestors in San Francisco’s Mission District Monday, who took to the streets, stopping a Google commuter bus for half an hour. People covering the protest, like photojournalist Steve Rhodes, and Google employees stuck on the bus, such as Adelle McElveen, used Twitter, Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) to describe what was going on.
The protest organizers, Heart of the City, explained online the rationale behind the protest. “Tech Industry private shuttles use over 200 SF MUNI stops approximately 7,100 times in total each day (M-F) without permission or contributing funds to support this public infrastructure.” Heart of the City wrote, “No vehicles other than MUNI are allowed to use these stops. If the tech industry was fined for each illegal use for the past 2 years, they would owe an estimated $1 billion to the city.”
MUNI is the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency bus system. The Google bus is part of Google’s green transportation system offered to employees. According to Google, the number of riders per day can reach 5,000. The company estimates that providing the service creates a “net annual savings of more than 20,000 metric tons of CO2.” The same effect as removing 4,000 cars from the road.
San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin told a San Francisco CBS affiliate he has been meeting with tech company representatives in recent months to try and find a resolution to the issues, which include using streets not equipped for large vehicles. “They’re also taking up space at times at Muni bus stops which are inhibiting or can inhibit Muni service not letting Muni buses get to the stops,” Reiskin said.
Public transportation and city resources are not the sole concerns of protestors targeting Google, and other tech firms in San Francisco. Heart of the City says on its website: “Tech boom 2.0 is busting the heart of San Francisco. Fight back to save our city refuge & neighborhoods!” The organization exists to be “a gateway to information, resources and ways to take action to fight Bay Area evictions and gentrification.”
Realtor.com calculates the average sale price for homes in San Francisco to be $1,029,681. For California, this number drops significantly, to $472,707; and in the U.S. as a whole, on average, homes sell for $284,546.
In October, the median list price in San Francisco was $828,500. Of the 146 real estate markets tracked, San Francisco had the highest median listing price. Zillow.com says that there has been a 14.7 percent year-over-year increase for home prices in San Francisco as a whole. In Mission, where several gentrification protests have taken place, the increase year-over-year is 20.7 percent.
On Cinco de Mayo, Mission District residents were invited to an “Anti-Gentrification Block Party.” The party was held to speak out against “thousands of people have been displaced from the Mission District due to evictions, high rents, rising cost of living, transportation costs, and a lack of access to employment and education.” The Google bus was again a source of ire. Attendees took swings at a Google bus shaped piñata.