San Francisco, a city built on American’s pursuit of gold, currently finds itself fighting the advancements of yet another gold rush.
As housing rates continue to rise in the San Francisco, many residents place the blame on Silicon Valley based tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
While the precursors for the current housing crisis in San Francisco are dramatically different from the events that ushered in the Dot Com era in San Francisco, longtime San Francisco residents continue to worry about the haunting similarities between the two. Much like today, the success of Silicon Valley in the late 1990s to early 2000s directly affected the lives of its San Francisco neighbors.
The tech giant Google began providing transportation services for its employees in the mid 2000s. In an attempt to further accommodate (and recruit) employees, Google created a fleet of busses to drive its employees to and from work everyday. These busses run all to and from San Francisco all day picking up and dropping off employees all over the bay area. The luxurious “Google Busses” include Wi-Fi, real-time location information and was also the first service of its kind to exceed the 2010 EPA emission standards. The Google bus service hit 2.5 million rides in 2013, and continues to shuttle 6400 employees a day.
Despite efficiency, and attractiveness of the tech busses to Google and its associates, many San Francisco residents have actively spoken out against the busses. In both Oakland and San Francisco, protesters have non-violently and violently blocked the route of tech busses, forcing law enforcement to step in.
In drastic form, San Francisco residents protested the expansion of tech busses. Residents protested the expansion of the busses because of the rise in “no-fault” evictions within 4 blocks of tech bus stops. The increase in housing rates can be directly tied to the influx of wealthy tech employees looking for a convenient place to live in one the most expensive cities in the world. However, despite the public outcry, disgruntled residents and protest, city officials recently voted in favor of permanently adding Google Bus routes to San Francisco.
According to the Anti-Eviction Housing Mapping Project, roughly 69% of all no-fault eviction in San Francisco occur within four blocks of tech-shuttle bus stops. While landlords have always had the ability to administer no-fault evictions to their tenants, the rate in which they are occurring has continued to rise with Silicon Valley.
No-fault evictions occur when the tenant has paid their rent, but the landlord decides they’d rather have the property back. No-fault evictions typically occurred when the landlord decided to either renovate, or sell the property. However since the rise of Silicon Valley, no-fault evictions have been used to increase the price of rent. From 2011 to 2012, no-fault evictions increased by 42%, and from 2012-2013 the amount of no fault evictions rose to 57%.
While rental rates, and housing prices continue to rise in San Francisco, programs like the Anti-Eviction Project, are attempting to make a difference through community wide movements.
Other organizations like the San Francisco Giants, and its Mission Rock Initiative are other methods that organizations and groups are attempting to fight the housing crisis.
As San Francisco continues to grow into a technologically advanced city, thanks largely to the contributions of its Silicon neighbors, it will fall on the existing organizations and residents of San Francisco to protect the culture and diversity that has historically defined San Francisco.
To learn more about no-fault evictions, or what San Francisco residents are doing in response to them visit http://antievictionmap.squarespace.com/, or join activists by signing a pledge agreeing not to move into apartments and houses that have become vacant due to no-fault evictions.