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Google Bus Protesters’ Manifesto: ‘Get Out of Oakland’ (kqed.org)
46 points by detcader 1376 days ago | hide | past | web | 100 comments | favorite

I'd like to share a message specifically for the Googlers on HN.

I am a poverty fighter. I run a nonprofit that helps kids in high-poverty communities. I just want to say that I know that there are tons of googlers who care deeply about helping fight the persistent causes of and horrible effects of being forced to struggle with poverty. I see it every time a googler volunteers to help a school, donates a dollar to a charity, or builds something that could help people in need. And because volunteers are a primary part of our program, I see Googlers giving a lot. I just want to say thank you. I think you can guess why these protesters have decided to pick you to focus on. I just hope that you keep in mind that their opinion does not represent those in the greatest need. Please continue working to make the world a better place for those who are struggling to break out of a cycle that's incredibly hard to beat. Even if they protest, please keep volunteering. Please keep donating. Please keep building. Please don't stop keeping the poor in your thoughts.


All right. GiveDirectly refused to process my debit card. Where do I donate?

If you want to find poverty, there are a few ways to go. The obvious ones are to support education (helping kids break out of poverty), to support what we call "survival" which includes things like soup kitchens and shelters (which are designed to help people cope with poverty), or healthcare in countries which don't have free healthcare like the US (which help prevent late-in-life entrance into poverty due to unexpected health problems). My nonprofit organization CareerVillage.org helps kids get career advice https://careervillage.org/about/#make-a-donation

40x18 ($720), donation completed.

Wow that's a lot of Chai!!! Thank you so much eli_gottlieb we'll put it to very good use helping kids in low-income communities. I'll send you an email separately with more.

So because there are some people in greater need, these people deserve to have their communities disrupted?

Sorry? I'm not sure what you mean.

Your post reads like "ignore the protests and keep donating. The worst off people who need lots of help need you around, they make the points of the protesters irrelevant."

My point is that the people protesting, are protesting because their community is being disrupted - apparently an irrelevant concern because there are people who are even worse of. That is a fallacy of course - just because someone has it worse than me, doesn't mean I shouldn't fix problems in my spot, nor should I accept a worsening of my position because of it.

I think I understand what you're saying, but it's not what I'm trying to say, so let me clarify. I'm not from Oakland, I don't live in Oakland, and I'm not trying to say anything about whether Googlers should be living in Oakland. What I am saying is that whether Googlers live in Oakland or not, I hope they continue to donate to causes in Oakland. I hope they continue to give career advice and mentorship to kids in Oakland who dream of working at Google someday. I hope they continue to try to fix problems that the citizens of Oakland face, and those faced by other communities like Oakland where people are struggling to get by.

I hope that clears up what I'm saying. What I fear is that, as a result of these protests, the Googlers (and non-googlers in tech for that matter) who have been actively helping fight poverty in communities like these no longer continue to be as active in helping those communities. That would be terrible.

Gosh, wouldn't the world be such a nicer place if society solved its housing problems by building more housing with a higher density instead of having these pointless zero-sum dominance contests?

But of course, that would defeat the whole purpose. The point is not to build more housing, it's to have a zero-sum dominance contest and come out on top!

</extreme cynicism>

The point is not dominance contests, the point is people want to keep their low density housing even as housing costs rise in their city.

Imagine if you lived in Hawaii, and the island was just starting to become popular because it is so nice. Everyone was moving there, and rents were going through the roof because there is nowhere to expand. What you want isn't Manhattan sky-rises on your little island; you want cheap, pre-discovery Hawaii with its thatch huts and casual atmosphere back.

Except Oakland really sucked before the late 90s/early 2000s gentrification happened.

In other words, they don't want pre-discovery Hawaii back - they want post-discovery Hawaii back and for all these latecomers with more money than them to fuck off.

Right, Hawaii is not a perfect parallel, but rather how I expect things look like through their eyes. Their perception is their reality.

In general, I agree that building up can harm the character of a neighborhood, but this is often presented in the context of SF and Oakland as a false choice.

The difference between skyrocketing prices and stable ones is on the order of 3,000 new units per year, not 30,000. This is a goal we can hit with skyrises restricted to one part of town, or with three family homes in place of a lot of single family homes, or in a number of other tasteful ways.

It's not as if 500,000 techies are moving to Oakland at once. It's a slow trickle, but, with a fixed supply, prices spike.

>The point is not dominance contests, the point is people want to keep their low density housing even as housing costs rise in their city.

I was told by an SF native that the problem was also one of wanting to keep older housing rather—some historic styling reasons.

Does anyone know more about that aspect? I mean every city / town has historically designated homes, is there a more aggressive form of general legislation like that preventing new housing?

FWIW, the unhip parts of San Francisco have had relatively stable rent and housing costs. It's just the 'cool' parts that took off, and then the 'cool' parts of Oakland.

The last time I looked, it was only slightly pricier where I live in SF, compared to even 10 years ago, when I moved here.

I don't think it's preventing new housing. Take a look at all the new developments going up along Market St and in SOMA. They are very ugly. Absolutely no character whatsoever.

Not sure what the legislation is regarding maintaining existing buildings. Twitter has hung an awful sign outside their historic building. Butt ugly.

Hawaii is an interesting example. You should check out this supreme court case: (HHA v. Midkiff) http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/467/229

Basically, a few people owned a majority of the homes on Hawaii, and there was a supreme court case about the right of the state to seize and redistribute them.

I'm not sure I can see strong ties between that case and this issue, but it is an interesting case! Thank you for the link :)

Ah, yes, let's have our 50's idyll back. That's what we need. The world obviously has not changed a bit since, so the neighborhoods don't need to meet any change.

I didn't say it was a tenable position, just pointing out what I believe the complaint is actually about.

Ah yes. In both New York and San Francisco there are fun and exciting zero-sum dominance games, combined with the overhanging threat that some communist like Bill de Blasio might get elected and decide to take away your future rental income by tightening the rent control regime. And people wonder why the rent is too damn high.

Not sure which city has it worse today. Of course, in New York in the sixties and seventies, over a third of the apartment buildings in Harlem were simply abandoned and left to rot, and the Bronx was burned; I'm not aware of similar destructiveness in San Francisco (notwithstanding even the Japanese internment which replaced Japantown with the abominable public housing in the modern Fillmore and Western Addition).

Already seeing the responses about how their worldview is simplistic, how the protestors are acting out against people who are there to help them... but does anyone want to comment on the actual complaint that the influx of tech money is increasing the cost of living for those not working in the industry? It seems equally simplistic to just dismiss their complaints when they seem to have a very valid problem.

This is always the downside of gentrification. It's not like their claims haven't been heard before, but I don't know if it's ever happened so quickly. Does anyone living in the bay area want to comment on whether their claims are actually valid and, if so, what can be done to help it?

Umm... I spent last summer in the Bay Area, does that count?

I mean, here's the thing: housing prices in the not-shitty and already-gentrified parts of the Bay Area are batshit insane. As in, $1100/month for a rented room in a shared house, insane. And for this money you got your own private bathroom, use of the kitchen and backyard, and weekly maid service, because holy crap gentrification. Yet that was actually the cheap deal compared to paying $1200/month to rent a bunk bed in a "hacker house" further away from work via AirBNB.

The only possible good move I see is for the Bay Area to approve massive amounts of housing construction and increased density, but political will is 100% stacked against that move because local governments are almost always dominated by well-off local landowners (who've usually resided in the same single town for decades) rather than by the large population of salariat-class transplants who rent.

Supply and Demand is amoral, and section 8 housing promotes a "bare minimum" mentality for landlords.

So now, we have this huge supply of well off middle class kids like myself (I say kid at 26, pretty sure most of us still feel that way) who want a less expensive place to live but can pay for a decent residence. Housing costs go up as tenants actually matter to landlords, and the poor folk living on the taxpayers dime get edged out.

I don't know how to fix poverty, and I don't know how to make landlords care about tenants that don't give a shit about their home and don't have the cash to fix what they break. If everyone could become a responsible human being over night we'd have a lot of problems fixed.

What I do know is that having a larger taxpayer base in a city is a boon to everyone around. I'm from Ohio, and have watched this happen in most of Akron and Cleveland but in the exact opposite direction; The well off middle class left for anything that wasn't East Cleveland, and those that are too poor to leave seem to just destroy the neighborhood. If everything was crime ridden shit before, then it obviously isn't the fault of the new folk that moved in. The same goes in reverse.

If nothing else, they are implying that they are entitled to living there indefinitely.

Um, that is exactly the same claim the counter arguments are making: "we're entitled to move in wherever we want"

I know I'd be pissed if my community - not the place I happen to live, but the actively built relationships I have with people in my neighborhood (years of freindship, acquaintance, understanding and so on) - were disrupted because a bunch of new people showed up and forced that community to be scattered by mechanisms such as "we can't afford the rent anymore".

There is a lot of value that is destroyed. It isn't monetary, but it is a form of wealth. That is a real problem.

I get that a lot of people don't give a shit about interpersonal things, and think the notion of community is pointless. But a lot of us do care. Basic decency should suggest paying attention to this sort of thing. Just because you have more money than someone, doesn't mean you get to kick apart their world.

Building a new community for oneself, a deep one anyway, is not easy, and gets harder when you have to keep doing it - you start to say "what's the point - I don't have enough money and time to do this again the next time the better off need a new playground".

If that's such an important value to you, why do you live somewhere with such a large proportion of renters who do not own their homes? If you really want to build long-term stable relationships with neighbors, wouldn't the best way to prevent people leaving due to rent changes be to live somewhere where you own your home, and so do most of your neighbors?

I feel like I'm missing something significant here. Renting an apartment is a conscious choice to me, a trade-off between a temporarily-convenient location and long-term stability, or at least that's how I've always approached it in my personal life. It's baffling to me that people will sign a rental agreement for a limited term, and then be so upset at the conditions of that agreement not being guaranteed beyond that term. Perhaps I'm confused about the nature of the complaints? Do you object to rental housing entirely?

For a lot of people (you aren't one of them, by your statements, that doesn't mean you represent the majority, or even that there isn't a significant minority!) renting makes as much sense, or more, as owning. Further, in my neighborhood, the prices have been relatively stable (roughly tracking inflation) for a long time. It isn't trendy place. Whatever. Whatever the case is - there are a lot of long-term renters. People come and go, sure, but it is a slow replacement, and there are many people who've been here as long or longer than me (6+ years for me at this location which I own, 9 in the neighborhood). I like it here. I like the people here. There's a nice community and it's partly due to the stability. Whether or not it was a the best long-term plan to make friends with these folks, to build those ties, it's what happened, and it works pretty well.

So now you're saying that should that get disrupted by things outside of my control, and the control of my neighbors, it's our fault? Isn't that kind of ridiculous?

You just spent a paragraph explaining how it was within your control, but because of some nonsense reasoning, you chose to do it anyway.

It's a very simple concept. If you are renting, you have relinquished any guarantee of stability.

No - I made choices based on the best I could. However other people can make choices that undo my best efforts, and that would piss me off. It seems you think that somehow I am the centralized control for everything, which is awesome but unfortunately un-true.

Even if I could minimize the impact of people coming in and disrupting the community, say causing them to put in a bunch of high cost living stuff a few blocks away, it still drastically affects all sorts of other factors. Property values go up anyway - taxes go up. Prices of things go up locally. Net impact - same shit.

I'm not saying that it should stop. You seem to think I'm against progress. I'm not - I'm just for sensible community preservation as well.

It's an even simpler concept: it isn't progress if it fucks up a bunch of people's lives for no good reason.

What do you have against letting people be happy with their lives - seriously it may take a little more effort to respect people, but it still seems decent to do so.

I think the reason I don't have as much sympathy as perhaps I might is because I grew up in a place where the community was over 200 years old, and mostly made up of the same families that entire time. Unfortunately, the mill closed, and most people lost their jobs. Lots of people left because they couldn't afford to live here anymore (it's not expensive, but there aren't many jobs.)

So, the death of a community over two centuries old was what I grew up in.

Change happens; you can shape it as it comes and maybe make it palatable, but you can't entirely stop it.

For the sake of argument, let's say that I (to some extent) agree. What should Google and more importantly Google employees living in Oakland do?

Google could open an office in Oakland given that there are enough employees there to merit arranging free transport by bus.

Googlers could live closer to work. Why would you want to sit on a bus for two hours everyday when you could live in Mountainview and cycle to work?

Or Google could buy up houses and apartments and turn them into corporate housing for their workers.

Google even tried proposing to build more housing in Mountain View. The town council shot them down.

> Or Google could buy up houses and apartments and turn them into corporate housing for their workers.

How is that a solution? Won't it only force out more people?

Why would it make sense for Google to open an office in Oakland given it's current huge campus in Mountain View?

You can protect your community. If you have something valuable, people are going to want to purchase it. Decline their offer.

If you don't actually own the thing, but the person that does is a member of your community, persuade them not to sell.

What you don't do is break the valuable thing hoping the would-be buyers go away, or blame them for wanting the thing you value.

This is a beautifully off point solution! Should my community start getting disrupted by higher rent, (half my neighborhood is long-term tenants, there is not rent control here, or anything like that), I will surely tell the people who don't own the apartments they rent to not sell!

Who owns the apartments? Talk to them. If they're not members of your community, work with your city council to pass ordinances making that arrangement more difficult.

Why would the rent be higher if the people that own the apartments didn't raise it? They have a choice in this; they can live the way they did two years ago.

These things are shown time and again to not work for many reasons:

* landlords just want the rent, and any "scum" (by which I mean employed and decent tenants that don't pay as much) need to get packing.

* city councils want the higher taxes. Good citizens just don't count unless they pay more.

* the police get in on the act and start hassling people who don't look like they belong (aka not in the new, higher class)

* cost of living goes up even if half the old population stays there. new businesses are forced in by crazy eminent domain tricks.

It's the same old gentrification story: some new folks with more money want it, so they take it without regarding that they are displacing a whole bunch of good people (along with some bad ones) who are now force to rebuild their lives.

I'm not against progress, I'm against "progress" that disrupts people who did nothing wrong for reasons that are basically needless.

You imply that all of these people are not members of your same community. They are.

As a result, they can be reasoned with. The politicians are not elected by money alone, but by votes. Convince them that the votes they need will be lacking and they will go your way. The landlords live amongst you; if they don't, again, force the city to pass an ordinance against outsiders owning a disproportionate amount of property.

The police also live amongst you; take action by befriending them. It's much more effective than assuming they are an enemy.

Are they? I'm not so sure. They have a right to feel upset that money has disrupted (and not in some cool buzzword startup kind of way) their way of life by driving up the cost of living without trickling down to them. A lot of what was written struck me as sour grapes, frustration at the ease with which some people live while they slave away, but it doesn't change the fact that gentrification can destroy communities and culture.

Society has a variety of ways to entitle people to live somewhere. One involves purchasing the property. You could also enter into a lease with your landlord that gives you the right to renew for a very, very long time (which you'll pay for, of course, if you get it.)

Now, if you want to talk about rising property taxes driving people out, that's a legit thing to talk about, but really more of a NYC problem than SF.

I was hoping to find a statement of some sort of achievable goal or solution. I did not expect to find one. This is mere sound and fury, of no significance.

The influence of this influx of wealth can be likened to a rising tide, and as Canute demonstrated, it is not terribly accomodating: the flow of dollars does not hear this outcry. I'm amenable to a discussion on whether markets are the most appropriate solution to the allocation of housing, but I doubt many others would be, and that is not the argument being made. If these people are angry about serving coffee, they should learn programming -- I taught myself, in the poverty of a third world country no less. If they are less able to learn programming than, e.g. the children of the Chicago Public Schools, then I would consider it reasonable to charge a far greater rate for the services that they do provide. If their services being provided are not of sufficient value to afford them a new apartment (rent controls already being in place, as far as I am aware) then 'Qu'ils mangent de la brioche'.

I'm no Horatio Alger character; I probably can't afford to live in the Bay Area even now -- so I don't. You want to talk about grinding poverty, let's bloody well talk. You want to talk about the evils of capitalism, you will find no more willing audience. If you merely want to rage and riot, and not stir a finger to help yourself otherwise, well...I'm not going to resort to invective, but you may have to live elsewhere, Canute.

This is the wrong fight. Protester vs. Googler is a distraction. There are other, root causes of the problem that make the protesters angry, and doing this might relieve some frustration for them, but it does no good, and arguably does harm to their cause and gets us no closer to real solutions.

Back in the 70's, Berkeley, a close neighbor, decided that rent control was the answer. It turns out that it helped, but it had too many unintended consequences (people living in $200 nice apartments for decades when they made really good money, thus completely defeating the purpose of rent control).

So, rent control didn't work, at least not in the way it was done in Berkeley. Did it work in SF? Doesn't seem to have. NYC? I hear nightmare stores of their issues.

It's the dialog of the greater problems we need to have, not these stupid little fights.

Abolishing rent control might be the big-picture answer, but in the micro- scheme, the protestors will never rally for that.

They really don't have a winning play that I can think of; the spat is basically just them lashing out at the only thing they can think to lash out at. They are in the unenviable position of living at low cost in low density housing in a locality that is shooting up in value, and all they can do is attempt to forestall the inevitable.

Or they can get elected and introduce more rent control.

More rent control doesn't help them. Rent control for everybody means the wealthy pay less on rent too. Rent control for only the poor doesn't work, and Section 8 is too unpopular for them to roll out a widespread program like that for everybody who doesn't work for Google.

It's an issue in SF as well. NY Times article states that 27% of individuals in rent controlled units make more than $107K/yr.


> NYC? I hear nightmare stores of their issues.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.

> ... see the violence and degradation out there? This is the world that you have created ...

No, that is the world that the current tenants have created. These are the people here to turn it around.

If I were trying to encourage folks to not invest in local real estate, I would try to scare Googlers and Facebookers out of town.

If I wanted to destroy the tax base supporting my school, I would try to scare Googlers and Facebookers out of town.

If I wanted to drive my coffeshop or cheeseburger stand out of business I would try to scare Googlers and Facebookers out of town.

If I wanted my theater to be empty, I would try to scare Googlers and Facebookers out of town.

I agree with the gist of what you're trying to say, but:

> "If I wanted to drive my coffeshop or cheeseburger stand out of business I would try to scare Googlers and Facebookers out of town."

Yes, you really would. One of the chief problems with gentrification (where "problem" is highly subjective) is that the incoming population sometimes doesn't want the businesses you already have.

Your local cup-o-joe place is going to shut down in favor of organic, fair-trade coffee that comes with a brochure (and 5x the price). Your local cheeseburger stand is going to shut down in favor of a quinoa kale salad stand (and 5x the price).

Edit: The oxymoron of Bay Area gentrification on the other hand is that the protesters don't really want the old hood back, they want first-wave-gentrification-hood back. Nobody really misses the cheapass coffee stand, nobody really misses the cheapass taco stand. They miss that little temporary state where the artisanal coffee shop opened and the organic grocery got started but before the real rush came in search of it.

Anecdotal story time:

I lived in a rough neighborhood in Philly probably at the beginning of the first wave of gentrification in that area. Our house was a recent rehab, there were several houses next door that were completely vacant. We would frequent a terrible, dirty, cheap hoagie (or sub for you non-Philadelphians) shop owned by an immigrant family. I was always worried that they would get displaced by the incoming 2nd generation of gentrifiers.

Instead they rehabbed their business and now serve expensive sandwiches made with organic ingredients and have a large selection of pricey craft beers. It's still owned by the same family.

Now I'm not saying that the gentrification process isn't destructive to a neighborhoods culture, but I don't think it has to be this way.

Wealthier patrons are good for business. Most are happy up selling.

Didn't you hear? Oakland was the most peaceful city in the country before about 2004 when Googlers started dispersing that far.

Seriously, it's all the Googler-on-Googler gang violence that has been skewing Oakland's crime statistics.

No, it's the Googler-on-Facebooker (if that's even a word) full-out gang war.

Dude, this is not a joke. There were massive numbers of casualties in the Nerf war of Summer 2013 between the Dragon Army and Sunshine Regiment.


And then there was the Nerf zombie apocalypse in spring!

I think that the person who wrote the letter uses "you" here to refer to the non-blue-collar world. I think they would view the "turning it around" that you mentioned as making Oakland nicer by gentrifying the current residents off to some other place.

My favourite part is line "But look around, see the violence and degradation out there? This is the world that you have created, and you are clearly on the wrong side."

Umm...Really? If one side is full of violence and degradation, and the other side has catered lunches and free massages, I'm going to choose the catered lunch side 10 times out of 10.

Did you miss the point about getting kicked out and getting forced to leave with nowhere to go ?

That "might" be the violence and degradation they're talking about.

Just saying.

Playing victim while infringing other people's rights and intimidating people with violence in the name of "revolution". Talk about Irony.

Yes, that developer earning a relatively modest, yet maybe comparatively high, six figure salary is the root of all that is wrong in the world.

Also I assume the author is implying their gentrification of Oakland is cool and acceptable but Google employees gentrification is so not.

This vitriol really needs some perspective, although I'm pretty convinced this has to be a troll.

In 2011, a $100,000 salary gave you a higher individual income than 93.4% of all working-age Americans. It seems strange to describe an individual income in the top 6% as "relatively modest."

Cite: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032011/perinc/new01...

Regardless the point I was trying to make is that if the author wishes to rail against inequality, they picked a poor target in their new neighbors.

By relatively modest, I was referring to the salaries earned by people in actual places of power.

If the author wanted to bring up the extreme disparity between the really-wealthy and the rest of us, I am all ears, instead they've focused on the harm done to them by the new gentrify-ing population; yet I assume at one point the author was a gentrifier of the same neighborhood they now wish to protect.

People were upset when the hippies moved in to SF too.

Googlers, by far more left than most of the country, cannot fathom that they are part of "the rich" most of them rail against. Some of these people are getting kicked out of their apartment, can't find a new place that's anywhere near their job, so they're getting kicked out, forced to move away, forced to quit their job and sent packing to nowhere with no job, no roof over their heads and no money. Plenty of these will be homeless for a while to come.

My opinion is : stop fighting this discussion. You can't win. There are no words anywhere that will make people accept being forced into homelessness without fighting. Just shut up, go to church sunday and pay a few hundred bucks on collection, because that will actually help them for a while. Lots of churches help people relocate because they've got lots of locations, and this is (part of) what they do.

TLDR: These protesters are right. Google, or googlers, techies in general, are forcing the lower rungs on the social ladder into homelessness.

Sorry to say, but you're lucky you're in America. In Europe, I cannot imagine these protests would have remained peaceful. A few tires and one window does not count as violence. Visit the poor parts of Brussels once with what a techie normally walks around with in San Francisco and you'll know what violence is.

Of course the reason this doesn't happen in Sanfran is that this is just the n-th time the poorest are being forced out.

I'm 100% sympathetic -- $100K is a lot of money -- but you really do need to factor in cost of living. I am not trying to evoke sympathy for folks who make $100K. It's just reality that $100K means something drastically different in the Bay Area vs any number of other metropolitan areas.

It's just more complicated than absolute numbers, is all I'm saying. If anything the fact that $100K is "not much" relative to the cost of living there is yet another symptom-- it implies that an eminently reasonable amount of money like $60K isn't enough. IOW, we should talk about floors, not ceilings or even averages.

Keep some perspective in considering the cost of living, too. The area's high cost of living is merely an inconvenience for someone who's that lofty income bracket. For the people living on the community's median household income of about half that, I imagine it's a lot rougher. For the >10% of the community's unemployed people, it's probably downright disastrous. And I imagine from the perspective of those folks, when the $100k earners complain about the cost of living it looks a whole lot like crocodile tears.

It's all relative - the Bay Area is enormously expensive to live in compared to most other places in the USA. The apples-to-apples comparison would have to incorporate cost of living.

Which isn't saying that techies aren't paid very well, even in relation to their cost of living, but rather that absolute salary numbers mean little by themselves. A $60K salary in Manhattan for example is a tough life, whereas a $60K salary elsewhere can be very comfortable.

Perspective all around. The perspective where a six figure salary can be considered even remotely modest is the perspective that cuts the >90% of Americans who don't earn a 6 figure salary out of the frame.

Thesis: If the bay area had a viable transit structure, the current housing crisis would be less problematic.

People either need to work near their jobs or be able to commute to them. Housing density is low in most places, so "working-class" people get pushed out of "nice" areas, so they need to commute. Commuting is bad because transit is bad: there isn't an interconnected, pervasive mesh of transit with capillaries reaching into neighborhoods and arteries connecting cities. We've got Bart and Caltrain, but they're each for the most part single corridors, and the local transit doesn't link up well with it. So, taking public transit costs lots of time and money. The alternative that people have is to drive, but there are too many cars on the road, so driving takes lots of time and money. The result is that people feel like they don't have anywhere to go.

I'm not sympathetic to the argument "I've lived here for NN years so I should be allowed to stay living here as long as I want, realities of economics aside".

I wonder if it would help if there were a governing body between county and state that comprised "the bay area". Individual cities and counties have to strike deals between each other to link transit, with all the usual crappiness that politics entails. If a few counties (or cities that aren't in the same county) have a disagreement, do they have any place to air their arguments aside from the state level? People in LA don't care about the bay area's transit problems. People outside the major metro areas (central valley, far-northern california) don't care about the bay area's transit problems.

Part of the problem is that low density begets low density: all those cars need a place to be parked all day while their drivers work, so we have ~40-50% of the space in cities devoted to roads and parking. Further, low density makes mass transit economically infeasible.

I don't have a solution to offer. I can't see a way from where we are to the bay area I dream of, given the state of the economy and the politics involved.

Conclusion: we should collapse the bay area into a point mass. Then everybody gets to live in the nicest digs in town!

These people aren't doing much to generate sympathy for their cause with poorly informed rants like this. So the people who work for Google are to blame? And not the politicians who legislate policies that inhibit the construction of additional housing, thereby exacerbating the affordability problem? Or maybe these folks want something that they aren't entitled to: a world where everything is, and remains, exactly the way they want it - and where the normal economic supply/demand mechanism doesn't apply.

Either way, if these protesters care about generating more interest in helping them, I think they should consider a different tack.

Wow. I'm not surprised that a lot of Googler's drink coffee but I didn't realize so many visited prostitutes.

Hah, yeah I thought that was a weird addition.

We are those that service you, even your loins!! for your money! You bastards!


The sad part is that public transportation is so horrible in the Bay Area that companies are spending MILLIONs per year to have private bus lines.

The Transport services at Facebook were amazing. But when I left and then was working in Mountian view and had to take bart+caltrain it took me 2.5 hours each way!

After riding the trains and transport in Hong Kong recently, just how bad BART is was really driven home.

Bart is so abysmally poor y comparison to the HK train system, it makes me angry that I am punished by having to use BART.

It would be great if the rage that these protesters had were re-directed at the piss-poor management of public services and infrastructure.

Google and FB wouldnt have to spend millions on busses if the bay area were an actual urban planned region with real transportation services.

The fact that CalTrain and BART can't even sync schedule in the ONE single location where they intersect is atrocious.

This class warfare is ridiculously mistargeted. Google employees may be well paid but they are still members of the proletariat, the class of wage slaves who exchange their labour for money, the same class as the protesters. It's the banksters, politicians, privileged guilds and company owners whom they should both should be rallying against.

Having such a simplistic worldview must be relieving.

How is blaming Google employees any more righteous than blaming gays for wanting to live in Oakland and driving up prices? How is bullying in general a better strategy than attacking the root of the problem – conservative zoning policy?

It seems clear that the issue here is that more people want to live in Oakland than places to live and this drives rent up. If you want to bring prices down you need to build more housing, specifically denser housing.

Some people oppose this because it changes the character of the neighborhood, and that's a valid criticism. But the consequence of that stance is constrained supply which drives prices up, gentrifying the poor. Doesn't it make more sense to blame those who oppose high-density zoning?

Unless you want everything - strong local economy, low density, low prices – then I don't know what to say, that seems pretty naive.

Says the guy who prints it out using a computer (and some sort of word-processor).

Google doesn't really make computers, printers, or word-processors.

Actually, they do (Google Docs, Chromebook?), but you're totally missing the point.

Ok, you're right on Docs, but they don't make Chromebooks.

Not missing the point, just thinking the point is not very strong.

A lot of "makers of things" don't really make their things, they just sell their brand.

Either way, is an HP Chromebook something Google has "produced"?

Google most likely collaborated with HP to create it. Provided they did (because they might not have) I would argue they helped produce it.

Discarding the HP Chromebook, the Moto X and Moto G are arguably Google produced, as are the entire Nexus line of phones.

They do make their own custom server hardware... and build entire buildings around them to the tune of billions of dollars.

1) They don't build it themselves; to my knowledge they custom order.

2) Nobody printed that paper using a custom Google server.

They (used to, at least) physically design the actual server-boards used in their DCs - the same way that FB started to copy them on.

While they may have the actual physical manufacture contracted to a fab - they certainly were "building" their own google-specific designs.

How can increased housing prices create foreclosures for the people who have been living in the area? If housing prices double overnight, the mortgages don't change a cent. The only way Google can create foreclosures is that they create unemployment. That doesn't seem likely. Getting more wealthy engineers to an area will likely increase jobs.

Can someone enlighten me as to what a Google bus is? Googling it doesn't shed any light...

It's a bus shuttle service for Google employees which takes them to work. It has become some sort of symbol of the socio-economic divide between tech employees and the rest of society in the Bay area.

It's also a symbol that the area's public-transit infrastructure is only marginally useful.

On a related note, I'm off to catch the R train. [/nyc]

Many companies in the peninsula and south bay also run these free shuttle services - Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, etc. For whatever reason, they've all been lumped together as "Google buses".

It makes sense now, thank you.

Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Genentech all have employee shuttle services.

Read this:


Its amazing.

FB also provides dedicated rental-cars to groups of employees who are off the shuttle lines. Paying for all gas and tolls.

Additionally, they let employees check-out bycicles for weeks at a time to ride to and from their houses to the shuttle/van pick-up spots.

They calculated that the tota cost of commuting into the MPK campus from the east bay was as much as ~$12K/Year or some outrageous number. (I don't recall the exact figure...

I know economists talk about people choosing places to live in terms of "amenities," and businesses want to headquarter where people want to live. At what point is it cheaper to import amenities to, I dunno, Wyoming than to keep fighting the rising costs and politics of the metropolis?

I guess the answer is basically never? I wonder how much it would cost to keep the museums and clubs running with a lower population, just a whole planned city of entertainment...

(Maybe because businesses also benefit from sharing a tradeable talent pool with other similar businesses...)

I think it makes Googlers uncomfortable to be lumped in with the 1% by the 99% they drive away from in private buses every day.

I am sure the original has a #ThroughGlass hash tag ;)

> You, your employers, and the housing speculators are to blame for this new crisis, so much more awful than the last one.

This is harmful to the fight against fraud and speculation in finance. Thanks.

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