The Evolution of Protest: The Bay Area Has Been Shaped by Dissent, But No One Can Stand in the Way of What's Coming.
Fred Noland

The first salvo in the great tech-bus wars was fired on a crisp Friday morning in December. News from the front was, of course, live-tweeted.

The correspondent in this case was Craig Frost, a Google employee whose charter bus ambled toward a busy intersection at Seventh and Adeline streets in Oakland around 8:30 a.m., only to be blocked by a man in a trucker hat, and a woman in sunglasses. They unfurled a banner. It read "Fuck Off Google."

Frost tweeted the next sequence of events as other protesters gathered around the bus. Someone hurled a blunt object — either a rock or a sparkplug, Frost thought — and shattered one of the vehicle's side windows. When protesters dispersed, they left behind stray paper fliers with a typed-out manifesto.

Protesters blockade a tech coach in downtown San Francisco.
Harvey Castro/Studio369 Photography
Protesters blockade a tech coach in downtown San Francisco.
Protesters unfurl banners to provoke Google.
Harvey Castro/Studio369 Photography
Protesters unfurl banners to provoke Google.
Erin McElroy coordinates bus blockades when she's not tracking eviction data in San Francisco.
Juan Pardo
Erin McElroy coordinates bus blockades when she's not tracking eviction data in San Francisco.
Speakers at the citywide tenants convention in the Tenderloin.
Photographs by Josh Edelson
Speakers at the citywide tenants convention in the Tenderloin.
Speakers at the citywide tenants convention in the Tenderloin.
Josh Edelson
Speakers at the citywide tenants convention in the Tenderloin.
Josh Edelson
Phil Tagami enjoys touting Oakland's progressive lineage.
Rick Gerharter
Phil Tagami enjoys touting Oakland's progressive lineage.
Vladimir Levitansky standing outside 10th & Wood cafe.
Rick Gerharter
Vladimir Levitansky standing outside 10th & Wood cafe.
Tech employees hemmed in during a bus blockade.
Harvey Castro/Studio369 Photography
Tech employees hemmed in during a bus blockade.

"In case you're wondering why this is happening, we'll be extremely clear," the piece began. "The people outside your Google bus serve you coffee, watch your kids, have sex with you for money, make you food, and are being driven out of their neighborhoods."

The tech charter buses — big, sleek, equipped with Wi-Fi and upholstered seating — have come to signify the Bay Area's nouveau riche, many of whom travel 30 or 40 miles each way to their jobs in Silicon Valley. By enabling that commute, the buses allow tech employees to live in San Francisco, Oakland, or Berkeley, where they raise the median income, ratchet up local real estate prices, and transform working-class neighborhoods into chi-chi retail corridors. In the process, they have displaced long-time residents and helped transform the urban environment through a concatenation of circumstances that no single Google employee could control.

"You are not innocent victims," the flier went on. "Without you, the housing prices would not be rising, and we would not be facing eviction and foreclosure."

Frost explained, in a series of tweets, that he'd moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles to be closer to his in-laws, and that he drives a full hour to Oakland to catch the bus to Mountain View, for a job he started in January. "I can't afford to live closer," he tweeted, woefully, to the metro journalists who began following his feed for protest updates. "...When my lease is up I may try to move closer. It's not about me you know. My wife has a job close to where we are now."

Frost's tweets — captured, screen-grabbed, and reprinted in numerous media blogs that day — portrayed a guy who'd stepped onto a battlefield, when he was just trying to get to work. He and his Google co-workers had become accomplices to all the land-grabbing, real estate speculation, and deepening income divisions that plague the Bay Area even as it's been enriched by the tech boom. Their bus had become a totem in a tumultuous class war. And now, that war had become violent. Sort of.

It turned out that several atomized groups had staged bus blockades throughout San Francisco and Oakland that Friday. Protesters representing Eviction Free San Francisco obstructed an Apple shuttle at 24th and Valencia streets, waving cardboard "Evicted" signs in the shape of Google navigation points, and a banner with the slogan "Get Off the Bus; Join Us." A different group blocked off a Google bus as it pulled into the MacArthur BART station, its front window bearing a tell-tale "Bus to MTV [Mountain View]" sign. Clad in North Face windbreakers and skinny jeans, the protesters looked nearly indistinguishable from their tech counterparts inside.

These protests don't have quite the tectonic force of, say, the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. Unlike the civil rights movement, which aimed to repeal Jim Crow laws, or the gay rights movement, which aimed to abolish DOMA, the tech bus backlash doesn't have a distinct endgame. Tech employees don't have marching orders to displace ordinary residents; there isn't a single, malevolent Silicon Valley bogeyman who is trying to strip San Francisco of its essential character.

Yet on one level at least, the bus protests have been massively successful. In two months, they've garnered national media attention, despite having lean production values and a small pool of organizers. They've used a repository of symbols to create a powerful visual tableau: that of the scrappy proletariat standing in front of big, insular tech. They've enabled San Franciscans to wield an old style of protest against a new, ascendant economy. They transmit a provocative message, even if the goal is illusory.

Any human can stand in the way of a bus, after all. But he can't stop the engine of progress behind it.

On the morning of Dec. 9 — almost two weeks before the bus blockade that ensnared Frost — a small, bespectacled, ginger-haired man emerged from somewhere behind a Google coach on Valencia Street, to badger a group of protesters.

"Look, I can pay my rent — can you pay your rent?" he demanded, waving an arm hysterically at a protest organizer named Erin McElroy. "Well then you know what?" he continued, "Why don't you go to a city where you can afford it — you know? 'Cause this is a city for the right people who can afford it. If you can't afford it, it's time for you to leave."

He delivered the last lines in the staccato cadence of an entitled techie — or a caricature of one. McElroy recoiled. Like the other protesters, she wore a neon utility vest and held what looked like a big traffic sign, with the slogan "Warning: Illegal Use of Public Infrastructure." San Francisco Bay Guardian reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez captured the incident on video and posted it to the Internet that morning; by noon, it had gotten enough clicks to crash the newspaper's web page. Commentators were driven into apoplectic fits, calling the Google Bus Guy a Social Darwinist, a rapacious gentrifier, and an idiot. One wag created the fake "Google Bus Guy" Twitter account. His interests: "Timely commuting, Ayn Rand, large search algorithm corporations."

It didn't take long for Oakland journalist Susie Cagle to out the Google Bus Guy as Max Bell Alper, a career union organizer and erstwhile thespian, who'd been a prominent member of the Occupy Movement. (He was one of a dozen Occupy Oakland protesters who shared a $1.17 million settlement from the city last year, to resolve police brutality complaints.) Alper tells SF Weekly his soliloquy wasn't scripted, although it may have been staged — he knew McElroy from other protests, and she appears to be goading him in the video. He wasn't prepared for the fallout, from critics who accused him of sensationalizing a legitimate social cause and journalists who scolded him for distorting the truth and hoodwinking the public. Alper insists that the plausibility of his performance made it more resonant.

"Every day when you walk down the street, you hear this," he contends. "I mean, the next day the guy from AngelHack said even nastier things." (On Dec. 10, AngelHack CEO Greg Gopman posted a Facebook screed about homeless people on Market Street, handing activists a perfect parable of tech-geek self-importance and callousness. By the time he deleted the post, it had already gone viral.)

Alper explains that the Google bus protests are largely symbolic. Perhaps, on a micro level, they accomplish very little. A few tech employees get inconvenienced, a few roads are blocked, a few signs harangue about rising rents in the Mission. Alper says he wants to convey a message about income inequality; that Google, Apple, et al. are enriching themselves and despoiling the city at the same time they're acting as economic drivers. He compares them to a supervisor who mistreated his mom at her low-paying cafeteria job. Google is "the bad boss who's yelling at us," Alper says. "And he's going to keep yelling at us until we say, 'You know what? You can't do that anymore.'"

But he also sees tech companies as a more amorphous and all-encompassing enemy, responsible for a whole litany of misdeeds:

Offshore tax shelters. Scooping up personal data. Mass surveillance. Large-scale income inequality.

The tech buses serve the same purpose, for today's activists, as Wall Street served for Occupiers two years ago. They provide a baked-in allegory: That of the big, cushy, well-ventilated, Wi-Fi-equipped coach overtaking a public stop, forcing regular commuters — the ones who ride Muni to their low-paying, unglamorous jobs — to step out in the middle of traffic. It's an example of class privilege impeding public transportation.

To disrupt that scene is to break down the fourth wall, Alper explains.

"In San Francisco, we have front-row seats to these tech companies," he says. "We have a responsibility to hold them accountable."

The problem, then, is defining where accountability begins and ends — leaping from global to parochial issues. That's hard to do when the villain in question is a multinational corporation, rather than a venal landlord, or a seedy porn shop that moved in next to the local elementary school.

Google, Apple, et al. are global. They're embedded in our everyday lives; they're outsiders that wormed in and transformed not only San Francisco, but society at large. You can't hold up a picket sign or bang a tambourine and raise awareness about these companies, expecting them to go away. When you're up against something that big, "awareness" itself becomes a futile exercise. Traditional forms of protest seem quaint. They're symbolic victories that stray from practical solutions; a means to purge anxieties about change that's inevitable.

And yet, tambourine-banging and sign-waving and picketing are probably the most unassailable traditions that exist, in the seen-it-all Bay Area. Our museums display pictures of flower children alongside dug-out Ohlone canoes; Mark Kitchell's Berkeley in the Sixties documentary is required viewing for many high school social studies classes. We protest as an end, rather than a means, because we don't want to see our deepest tradition derailed — even by tech. Especially by tech.

That's particularly true in Oakland, a city that's long absorbed San Francisco's runoff, without its boom.

Activist crusades have shaped the last five decades in Oakland in much the same way that dot-com bubbles helped redraw the contours of San Francisco. The East Bay city still holds its gun-toting Black Panthers as a point of pride, and to this day, activists squabble over whether DeFremery Park, at 16th and Adeline streets, should be rechristened to honor the slain Panther Lil' Bobby Hutton, who was shot while trying to ambush Oakland police in 1968. When members of the Occupy movement set up camp outside City Hall in 2011, they renamed the land "Oscar Grant Plaza" to honor the unarmed 22-year-old who was shot by a BART cop at Fruitvale Station two years earlier. It's officially named after the Japanese civil rights leader Frank Ogawa.

The ferment of protest is so deep and rich in Oakland that even the landed gentry tend to uphold it. Oakland's mayor, Jean Quan, was a member of the radical Third World Liberation Front at UC Berkeley, where she helped establish the university's Asian American Studies program. Oakland's most prominent real estate developer, Phil Tagami — who famously waved a shotgun at a group of Occupy protesters when they gathered outside his downtown office building — enjoys touting the city's progressive lineage.

"It's our proud history," Tagami says. "The Black Panthers, the Free Speech Movement, the Vietnam riots that took place on Telegraph Avenue — it's always been a progressive community."

But many of Tagami's colleagues feel that Oakland's political culture often works against progress. The Black Panthers ran medical clinics and free breakfast programs, but they also brought in a combative, militant ideology that Oakland has never been able to live down. From the '60s onward, the city cultivated a tradition of violent protest, which persisted through the Oscar Grant riots, the Occupy Movement, and the Trayvon Martin demonstrations last year. It's become the conventional wisdom that professional anarchists BART into Oakland from out of town, treating the city's downtown corridor as a playground.

Real estate developer Rick Holliday, who specializes in refurbishing urban structures — decaying clock towers, old canneries, skeletal train stations — and converting them into housing, says that the city's reputation for violent protest has stymied revitalization of its downtown.

"You see young people trying to open a bar or a coffee shop down there, and someone comes along and breaks all their windows," Holliday says, his voice rising angrily. "You're shooting the people in the foot that you want."

Had the cards fallen differently, Oakland could have developed right in San Franciso's shadow. When Gov. Jerry Brown was mayor of Oakland, from 1999 to 2007, he hatched plans to bring 10,000 people downtown in the hope that a vibrant retail district would follow. His tenure coincided with the first dot-com boom in San Francisco, and he shared the conceit of many housing developers that West Oakland — just a seven-minute BART ride from the Embarcadero stop! — could serve as a nesting place for tech workers with disposable income. In Holliday's imagination, West Grand Avenue and Mandela Parkway could have easily become tech corridors.

But Brown and other boosters always seemed to be running up against the city's small-town ethos. When Holliday began building an ambitious housing project at an old cannery in West Oakland, in 2006, he faced vigorous opposition from several organizations — including Causa Justa :: Just Cause, an anti-eviction group whose members also help organize the Google bus protests. Activists had managed to conflate infill with notions that evil gentrifiers were coming in to displace the locals.

"We're opposed to this very tired argument that 'the exact physical land we're building on doesn't have people on it, so it doesn't affect people in the surrounding area,'" Just Cause finance and communications director Adam Gold says, adding that the organization is also battling a proposed market-rate housing complex at 16th and Mission streets, right above the BART station. "When you dramatically increase the real estate values in an area, people get pushed out."

Resistance to change, coupled with a national housing crisis and an omnipresent crime problem, caused the dream of Dotcom 1.0 to founder in the East Bay. But housing developers remained embattled, convinced the boom would eventually come. In recent years, they've redoubled their efforts to bring capital to Oakland.

Meanwhile, it's become a settlement for people who've been priced out of San Francisco. Some of them have channeled their frustration into tech bus blockades, and many still BART back to San Francisco — a city inhospitable to them — to protest livability issues there.

In reality, many activists don't see themselves as getting in the way of progress. Rather, they're preserving the culture that attracts development in the first place.

The anti-eviction activists who gather in a small, drafty building on South Van Ness Street, on a rainy Wednesday night in February, are holdovers from a different era of San Francisco. They wear Ben Franklin haircuts, nose rings, and sensible shoes. They carry their effects in backpacks. They write things down on pen and paper — or on a whiteboard — instead of pecking at laptops. The few young adults who are present refer to the other attendees as "elders."

The elders have plenty to protest about.

Housing prices are bubbling up. Google is transporting employees to work by private ferry. San Francisco politicians have introduced a somewhat anemic policy of charging the tech buses $1 every time they commandeered a public bus stop.

That rankles the activists, who are even more rankled when a member of the press — me — comes into their meeting.

"Well, can you tell us what your story is about?" one woman asks, as others chime in with other questions. "Can we read it first?" "Can we ensure that it supports the movement?"

When I refuse, the matter is put forth for a group discussion. I am duly evicted from the anti-eviction meeting.

Counterintuitively, progressivism in the Bay Area often manifests as conservatism. The people who inveigh against new money, and economic drivers, and skyrocketing real estate prices see themselves as preserving history. Many of them are quick to cite the Haight Ashbury hippies and the Panthers as a more authentic version of San Francisco than the tech industry that's overtaken it today. Some pine for a bygone Valencia Street that was home to artists, Holy Rollers, and working-class immigrant families, rather than expensive boutiques, acclaimed restaurants, and charter buses that glide by like alien spacecraft.

Some organizers have more personal reasons for joining the fight. Erin McElroy, who facilitated the meeting, later tells me she's been a radical for most of her adult life. Fifteen years ago, she traveled to Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization, and in 2009 she went to Romania to curb displacement of ethnic Romani communities. McElroy says she sees eerie parallels between Romania and the Mission District, near where she lives. She works for the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a group that tracks eviction data for San Francisco on digital maps. During off-hours she helps coordinate the bus blockades with an underground resistance group called Heart of the City.

"I think it's the sentiment of a lot of people that there's an equation of 'displacement' and 'replacement,' McElroy says, noting that a new tech bus or wine bar seems to pop up with every three-day eviction notice. "And," she adds, "it's been very natural to bring tech into that vision."

She has a point. It's natural to bring tech into any vision of the Bay Area's future, given that nothing else has changed the region so irrevocably. But to fixate on "displacement" and "replacement" as a zero-sum game might be stripping away the nuance, since you can't always predict what "replacement" will look like. Sometimes, it's an immigrant family getting pushed out of the Mission District. But sometimes, it's an immigrant moving in.

Vladimir Levitansky is one such immigrant, trying to set up roots in West Oakland and bumping against its pervasive fear of interlopers.

Before opening a café in the historical "Lower Bottoms" neighborhood, Levitansky, who's 39 years old, had an illustrious career in the circus. He's broken every toe, almost every rib, his fingers, and his nose. He's pulled bones out of sockets, displaced ribs, buoyed himself on rubbery joints. A few years ago he got squashed by one of his props — a Porta Potty — at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival, and broke his tailbone. "I can't say I'm retired forever," Levitansky says. "I'm on sabbatical."

Two and a half years ago, Levitansky settled permanently in Oakland with designs on launching a small restaurant. He wound up buying a gutted fish and burger shack at 10th and Wood streets. It had a run-down kitchen, a large counter encased in bulletproof glass, and enough space in the foyer for two long, cafeteria-style tables.

Levitansky and his wife opened 10th & Wood cafe in July and devised a menu that seemed expensive by neighborhood standards. A grilled chicken sandwich with aioli and Granny Smith apples costs $8.50; drip coffee cost $2 a cup. Levitansky says he sticks to "non-gentrification prices" — just enough to buy the artisanal buns for his hamburgers and pay his kitchen staff a fair wage; no Niman Ranch beef or hoity-toity fixings. He struggles to foist culinary concepts on the local kids who would prefer a fried fish sandwich with cheese, and "none of the other stuff you put on there."

Above all, Levitansky is self-conscious about personifying a tide of change that's come to the Lower Bottoms — where fancy food seems to coincide with mushrooming real estate prices.

"A year and a half ago, you could buy that duplex across the street for a hundred fifty grand," he says, nodding toward a row of crumbling Victorians just outside the window. "And now they've tripled the price." He noted that a sparse three-bedroom can go for up to $2,600 in the Lower Bottoms. Most of the lofts at Holliday's nearby Pacific Cannery development go for around $325,000 — still far less than the equivalent in most parts of San Francisco — but Levitansky believes that as more housing-bubble refugees move in, they'll fetch what the market will bear. Not for nothing is Holliday's sales pitch "Closer to San Francisco than San Francisco." That's Brown's Tech 1.0 promise, finally delivered, but still facing stout opposition.

In February, Oakland administrators invited the public to comment on a new strategic plan for West Oakland, to rehabilitate industrial properties and make use of a $2 million federal grant the city received in 2010. Housing activists like Rio Scharf, an organizer with the East Bay Solidarity Network, worry that the fever dreams of developers and city boosters might yield ugly consequences. Scharf, who's watched West Oakland rents rise precipitously — even faster than the rest of the city — fears the tenants he works with might be displaced to Antioch.

"My sense is there's finally going to be a successful push to redevelop the landscape," he says, "and that it might leave historic residents in the dust." Other activists worry that West Oakland might come to resemble the Mission in more ways than just having parallel tech bus protests.

Levitansky is caught right in the middle. Born in Moscow, raised in Los Angeles, he identifies as solidly working class. He says the cafeteria-style tables at 10th & Wood are of a piece with his dream that small-time hustlers should be able sit together with City Council members, eat the same fish sandwiches, and talk about the future of Oakland. And that's actually happened, the restaurateur says.

Yet because "change" has become synonymous with "doom," he's had trouble staving off conceptions that he's some kind of carpetbagger.

But ironically, it's not the mostly African-American, long-time neighborhood residents who object to the new café, he says. It's the young white counter-culturals. When he first opened, a group of anarchist white kids tagged the side of the building. "Thnx 4 gentri-frying us," they wrote. Levitansky also had to fight one particularly obstreperous customer — a scruffy white guy in his early 30s — who was fulminating over the price of coffee. The customer vowed to give 10th & Wood a bad Yelp review. He has yet to make good on the threat.

Anxiety over change — or even the appearance of change — is what's made the tech bus protests such a potent signifier. Oakland residents are as fearful of new money as their counterparts in San Francisco, and many people see the invaders from Silicon Valley — the ones who can conveniently live in the Mission, because a tech bus squires them to work everyday — as the evil catalyst of a whole series of displacements.

Alper, who makes a living organizing unions for casino workers and hotel concierges and airport food service workers, says that many of them have been uprooted multiple times, with the changing economy.

"The harder people get pushed in San Francisco, the harder they get pushed in the East Bay," Alper says. "Many of the workers I organize with tell me they grew up in San Francisco," he continues. "But then they had to move to Oakland. And now they're in Pittsburg-Bay Point." And, he adds, the people who get priced out of Pittsburg-Bay Point eventually have to migrate to rural exurbs like Stockton and Tracy and Fresno.

Rootedness is a form of street cred in the Bay Area — so much, in fact, that speakers at a recent tenant convention in the Tenderloin often emphasized how long they'd lived at a certain address, or in a certain neighborhood. Speaker Blanca Reyes told the crowd she'd lived in the Mission 24 years, and wouldn't accept a $25,000 buyout from her landlord. Gum Gee Lee, whose eviction notice had become a cause celebre in September, addressed the room in Cantonese. She'd lived in her apartment at 1508 Jackson St. for 34 years.

Another tenant convention speaker, Chandra Redack, said that a predatory landlord is trying to demolish her apartment at 1049 Market St. — a hotly-contested, 75-unit building populated by artists and old-school San Franciscans who pay less then $900 a month.

"I personally want to thank the Google bus blockade," Redack announced, standing at a lectern in a crowded Tenderloin elementary school cafeteria. The crowd erupted.

But it's difficult to disrupt the course of progress when that progress is by its own nature disruptive. When Google saw protesters on its roads, its reaction was to not use roads anymore. In January, the company began contracting with a private ferry service to shuttle employees from San Francisco and the East Bay. It also hired security guards to patrol its stop in the Mission District and shepherd employees aboard their coach to Mountain View.

The more noise that protesters create for tech companies, the more tech companies just tack the other way. The cultural divide seems only to deepen; an already thin layer of trust between tech employees and embittered Bay Area residents erodes even more. And San Francisco and Oakland keep gentrifying in spite of themselves.

Back at his café, watching for-sale signs pop up outside the old, colonnaded Victorians, Levitansky is just riding another wave. As an immigrant kid-turned-circus performer, he spent much of his life roaming from one place to another, trying to set up roots in new cities or neighborhoods. He's a little flummoxed by the idea that change and economic development are by definition evil. He agrees with the activists' idea that the people who shaped this city have a right to stay here. But he's not sure if standing in front of a bus is a way to solve these problems.

"The people who are pissed off about City Hall not taking care of their needs — those are legitimate concerns," he says. "But I think they're maybe misplaced onto Google."

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Ms. Swan, seems to think all housing is inherently good, and opposition to it is “conservative.” But burdening community after community with nothing but high-end housing and condos that price out ordinary workers is not a benefit. The fix will be simple to see, just hard to enact in a system designed to benefit developers, who have no incentive to build the housing we need, i.e. honestly affordable housing for low-paid working people, unless politicians force them to by hooking rents to the minimum wage, rent control, etc. Housing should not be a “whatever the market can bear” system unless people really enjoy seeing their neighbors living under the overpass. Sincerely, Carol Denney


This reminds me of how journalists covered Occupy. They had this really, overly literal refrain of, 'But what do you want!? ' that totally missed the point. Protests speak complex truths that can't be spoken. Occupy spoke the truth of Wall St sequestration of resources and all of the sudden we were talking about CEO salaries, tax breaks and income inequality. As such occupy gave Obama the platform to beat Romney. The tech bus protest and anti-eviction movement doesn't neatly distill down into a simple news story or review of activism that can be read in the time it takes to eat a burrito. Which is exactly the kind of snarky, nit picky reductionist degeneration into literalness this article represents. Protests, like earthquakes, are small surface expressions of much greater truths and forces in our society that often elude the perceptive capacities of  journalists, who then get their undies in a wad about 'well, what's this really about,'  when they themselves are just too simple and literal minded to understand. Protests give people hope and community both in the present, and in the future, as people look back on past actions. Patholigizing people who see the potential of protest, who refuse to bury their head in the sand, or dismiss the messiness of the mess we're in as 'anxiety over change' isn't worthy of the printed word, or the higher human reasoning. Corporate Shuttle Roadkill

Jean Jeanie
Jean Jeanie

James A. Hudkins where do the myriad protestors go who are born and raised in SF and the bay Area?

Tony Gallen
Tony Gallen

That man in the window on the bus needs a good assbeating.

mrericsir topcommenter

Only in San Francisco would people protest that local companies are paying their employees too well.

Andrea Cwynar
Andrea Cwynar

I'm so sick of hearing about the tech buses and all the problems they cause in regards to the cost of living. As a small business owner in Sf for 14 years, I would say the bigger problem is this city and its officials who make the policies in regards to how and who pays for what in this town. My business pays out the nose in taxes, and when those are paid, SF makes a new policy that causes me to pay more never able to get ahead. SF promotes itself as a small business town, but yet it starves us and gives no type of incentive what so ever. And then the city doesn't even charge the big corps to use the Muni stops? Who is the problem here in the cost of living? Protesters should think this over a little more.....They see a big shiny bus and start pointing fingers, but the cost of living has always been high in this town....yes its getting worse, but is it really the companies or the lack of smart infrastructure down at city hall?

John Davison
John Davison

@dallas isn't democracy the process of a larger group outvoting a smaller group... is that bad ?

James A. Hudkins
James A. Hudkins

The Tech buses could help their cause of they were nicer about it. I recently saw 2 of them, one on Market and another on Park Presidio just stop in traffic and block a lane. I had to drive around. It was rude. In each place there were frontage areas and supermarkets they could compensate to use their parking lot. I approve of the Tech people building the economy and improving neighborhoods by their presence, but they should not be rude about it. The protestors should examine their own lives and perhaps return to where they come from. They don't own San Francisco just because they moved here.


One wonders about people like Erin McElroy. they wonder around saving the locals from themselves.  An outsider that recently moved into the Mission that complains that outsiders are moving into the Mission.

There is just so much interesting about her savior status.  A while liberal Foucault and Derrida fan who takes part in street theater as a local with a fake Google bus union employee who lives in the East bay.

According to the Bay Guardian.


In the video, a union organizer who hopped off the bus shouts down Erin McElroy, staging an argument with a protester who also heads the eviction mapping project. "How long have you lived in this city?" McElroy asked him. He shouted back "Why don't you go to a city that can afford it? This is a city for the right people who can afford it. You can't afford it? You can leave. I'm sorry, get a better job."


I guess that avant-garde, cutting edge, postmodern protest is the art here, the art of being OK to be a gentrifier while complaining about gentrification.  Their own gentrification of the area is OK because they took the right classes and spout the right platitudes.  People like Erin are here to help the masses because the masses don't have your sophistication to know the only wrong answer is not agreeing with the opinions of the person at the front of the class, now the Erin's are at the front of the class.  The properly educated leading the charge for the dumb masses, the middle class vanguard socialists directing from above the peasant revolution.

This is the new protest it seems.

I look forward to her further career in SF, the short years we may have left of them anyways.

mblaircheney topcommenter

A major point is being missed here, just today... it was announced that WhatsApp, based in Mountain View, Ca…. sold to Facebook for $19,000,000,000.00

The company employs 55 people - that translates into $380,000,000.00 per person—$1.00 a day to use San Francisco's official bus stops for their silk lined carriages… to some that may seem fair… not!

This money... $380,000,000.00 a worker... in the hands of mostly a few young white guys, will be part of the engine that dismantles and displaces these largely minority neighborhoods.

85 people in the World own 50% of it's assets… take notice… see how it's done.

This transfer of wealth for rendering an arguably useless... as in "we can all live without it"... service. These people are not tending hospital emergency rooms, entering burning buildings to save lives or standing in the front lines of our military risking all for the endless war etc. etc. No cure for cancer is in the works, no Pulitzer Prize novel is being written… poverty and hunger remains, unless they decide to donate their booty… don't hold your breath. 

A false value has been placed on WhatsApp, funny, by another falsely valued company Facebook. Reminds me… many CEO's pay is determined by other CEO that oversee a board that determines the CEO's value… then they swap seats the next week to render the other fellows CEO pay based on the rising CEO pay average.

The game is rigged, the transfer of wealth is real, the distortion to our society... is not creeping in... it is 'All In!'

Dutifully announced by multi $1,000,000.00 News 'Talking Heads' reading a teleprompter while texting their money manager to get in on the next IPO.

This imbalance will not last, voters will finally wake up and take it all back… it has happened before.

Protestors have something that even the obscenely, undeserved rich have… one vote per person.


And don't forget Google is a member of  ALEC, code for American Legislative Exchange Council.   A stealth organization of conservative legislators (both sides of the aisle) and mega corporations that make-up rules/laws that favor their interest at the expense of Everyone Else!


Right people, i think the word is wealthy

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