In SF and Oakland, activists block tech buses to protest displacement

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Activists gathered at 24th and Valencia streets in San Francisco this morning to block a private Apple shuttle.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

Between 70 and 100 protesters gathered at 24th and Valencia streets this morning (Fri/20) for yet another blockade of a private tech shuttle, this time to protest evictions in the city of San Francisco.

The activists, who were from Eviction Free San Francisco, Our Mission No Eviction, Causa Justa / Just Cause and others, stood in front of a white shuttle bus holding banners and signs. Some peeked through cardboard signs fashioned in the shape of place markers on Google maps, with “Evicted” written across the front.

The shuttle was bound for “Main Campus Ridgeview,” a hint that it was operated by Apple. While there was no contact between the bus passengers and the protesters, a few sitting inside the bus could be seen capturing the scene outside with their iPhones.

With chants of, “What do we want? No Eviction!” And, “Get off the bus! Join us!” The group of tenant advocates marched from the 24th Street BART station to the intersection, where Erin McElroy, who was an unwitting participant in union organizer Max Alper’s street theater performance during the Dec. 9 Google bus blockade, led the street rally on a megaphone.

“What we are against is eviction,” she said. “What we are against is the Ellis Act. We want the ruling class – which is becoming the tech class – to listen to our voices.”

Guardian video from today's protest by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez.

Patricia Kerman, who is facing an Ellis Act eviction from her apartment of 27 years at 20th and Folsom streets in the Mission, was among the speakers who shared personal stories during the blockade, which lasted around twenty minutes or so. She told the Bay Guardian that she is a senior on disability, with a “very low fixed income,” and has had no luck finding alternative housing since she received an eviction notice. “He doesn’t understand that a roof over my head is more important than money in my pocket,” she said, referring to her landlord.

Paula Tejada, who is also facing eviction, said having rent control made it possible for her to get into a financial position to open her small business, Chile Lindo, a Mission District empanada shop near 16th and Capp streets. “I am once again proud of the Mission that stands for what is right,” she said of that morning’s action. “Not everyone is taking this lying down.” She added, “if you want homogeneous, go live in the suburbs.” 

Mariko Drew and Anabelle Bolanos had turned out with Our Mission No Eviction. Drew, who described herself as a longtime resident, said the bus was “a symbol of the privatization and increasing separation between the poor and the rich.” Bolanos chimed in, “It’s a constant reminder of how … our mayor and our local government has sold us out. [Mayor] Ed Lee is letting money make decisions.”

Highly visible activism around eviction and displacement has fueled new policy proposals, such as Mayor Ed Lee's recent announcement that affordable housing development would be prioritized.

Meanwhile, the Bay Guardian received reports that across the bay, two separate blockades of Google buses took place at Oakland BART stations.

According to a post on IndyBay, a Google bus was blocked at MacArthur BART station at 7:45am in Oakland. There have also been reports that activists blocked a tech shuttle in West Oakland.

When the Bay Guardian asked several protesters who were involved in the San Francisco action if there had been any coordination between the actions, they responded that there was not.

At the San Francisco protest, police showed up on the scene and asked people to step onto the sidewalk. The Apple bus departed and the protest concluded without incident.

 

This window was allegedly broken during the protest of this Google bus in Oakland.

 

Comments

I wasn't aware that any tech workers had evicted anyone.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 10:47 am

That totally makes sense if you don't really understand the issue.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

evicted nobody.

Moreover, there was a protest in Oakland and, to my knowledge, there have been no Ellis evictions in Oakland..

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

I was evicted by a tech worker. A google employee who bought the building I lived in for 17 years in the mission.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 8:20 am

So what, they own the building now AND YOU DON"T. Rent control addicts are all so VAIN, it's all about me....

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 8:37 am

Shelter is a level 1 (physiological) need on Maslow's hierarchy. Robbing people of physiological needs is generally seen as a jerk move. Regardless of perceived "vanity" I think it's fair to call out anyone who's enough of a jerk to kick people out of their home and strip them of a physiological need.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

shelter in an expensive, affluent, desirable place that you cannot afford in your wildest wet dream . . . is not.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

From what I understand though is it wasn't that way to begin with. It strikes me as seriously lacking empathy to come in and be "whelp, it's time to leave because these guys got more money, even though you've been here over a decade."

If I were that landlord and property values simply made a reasonable rent financially impossible, I'd at least offer some respectable relocation assistance. Moving is hard on someone who already doesn't have enough resources to get by. You know, as a `I understand your plight, but my hands are tied here` sort of gesture.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

that rising property values make reasonable rents financially impossible. The landlord's mortgage doesn't go up just because his property value goes up. He doesn't have to raise the rent. It's only because he wants to make more money, only because he *can*.

Well, when profits rise way out of proportion to costs, simply because a relative few who own scarce resources take advantage of everyone else, that's when the government needs to step in and regulate prices to keep things fair. Rent control is just one way of doing that.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

Rental buildings typically change hands every few years as successive owners tire of carrying so many passengers and bail. Each new LL thinks he will get the turnover necessary to make the enterprise viable but, if that doesn't happen, he sells.

Every time it sells, the valuation increases and so a bigger mortgage is required. In addition, the property tax resets itself.

What you say is only true for a LL who retains a building for decades and, even then, he still has a massive opportunity cost as his ROI becomes much lower than comparable investments.

In the end, the only willing buyer for a building with low rents is someone who intends to Ellis. It's inevitable the way the rules currently are.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

I respectfully disagree! The property taxes do!
Take a look at the property taxes of an average condo in SF http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/San-Francisco-CA-94109/15066265_zpi...

just property taxes are about $1,000/month, regardless of the mortgage payment b/c they're calculated every year based on the VALUE of the house from the previous year. So yeah, it's possible for the rising property values to make reasonable rent rates financially impossible. If someone cannot afford paying the SF rates, they need to move to a different city where they can afford it. Living in the middle of the city with a 100-walk score and other benefits is a privilege. So if someone can't afford paying for it, they can totally move to places where they can own a home for what they're paying to rent in SF. And I also understand that they've lived in SF for decades, but things are changing, and perhaps, it's time to adjust. I volunteer people to help avoid evictions, by the way, so I deal with these issues quite often.

Take a look at this building for sale now:
http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/San-Francisco-CA/2109520443_zpid/20...

Can you see how much the taxes will be?

So please, check these facts before posting nonsense. thank you!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

Property taxes are a small percentage of the mortgage, and Prop 13 keeps them from rising but by a tiny fraction each year, even if the underlying value skyrockets. Doesn't matter what the taxes are at the purchase -if it doesn't pencil out, don't buy it. And after that, the allowable increases under rent control cover the rising property taxes many times over.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

parcel or ad valorem increases approved by voters to fund bonds, plus by the value of any permitted work that you have done (which is why many people do not bother with permits).

But more than any of that, when the building sells (which rent-controlled buildings often do because they are crappy investments) then the property tax basis gets reset.

So of course does the mortgage so a building that makes a profit for a previous owner can make a loss for a new owner. Hence Ellis.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

Hmmm... provide me a link to *that* law, where it says property taxes must go up by a mimimum of 2%. Maybe it was a typo and you were trying to write "maximum?"

As for everything being reset when the building sells, that's irrelevant. Again, if it doesn't pencil out, don't buy it. Ellis is rarely a good deal, unless the new owner wants to do something else entirely, like condo convert. Fortunately there are limits on that. And we may soon see Ellis abuse reigned in in general. Even Ed Lee is giving it lip service.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

a minimum because every city and country charges the maximum increase they can each year.

And it's a minimum for the reasons I gave e.g. additional taxes for parcel taxes, bond measures, permitted work and so on.

But the re-purchase argument isn't irrelevant. It's crucial. Suppose a building flows 3K a month and the owner's costs are 2K a month. so far, so good. But when the building sells, the new owner's costs are 4K a month (because of those mortgage and tax increases).

What is the new owner to do? Take a loss indefinitely? Of course not. Ellis is the State-sanctioned exit strategy for such situations and, without that, landlords would be trapped forever.

That's a fair law and trying to excuse SF from it is ridiculous, because the Ellis Act was passed specifically for places like SF!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

"Greg, the 2% annual increase is a maximum but in practice it is
a minimum because every city and country charges the maximum increase they can each year."

That's flat out false. Phil Ting was reassessing properties for lower, voluntarily. And it wasn't just in SF either. I know this for fact. Your statement is flat out false.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

own property and therefore do not (directly) pay property tax bills.

Yes, if a specific building gets assessed lower, then it's property tax can decline YOY. But you have to make a case and it's not trivial to do, which is why it is more common with commercial buildings.

Nevertheless, once a tax basis is established, it's a 2% increase every year. I've been in SF for 20 years and every year it has gone up by 2%. It never occurs to the city to increase it by less than the max they can, even in a recession

And that is EXACTLY why Prop 13 is so important, because the city would just gouge us but for that vital and popular provision. And it took a peoples' revolution to achieve that

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

and I'm not willing to discuss it. But suffice it to say that I understand very well, and what you are saying is false.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

because it explains why you did not understand what i have been saying.

The fact that you are now trying to duck the issue and offer no refutation, simply confirms that you do not get how property taxes work in the real world.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

Being a renter doesn't preclude simultaneously being a property owner, being a licensed realtor, having close family or friends in the landlord business, or even being in the landlord business oneself. Not saying that I am or am not in any of these categories, just that the fact that I rent tells you nothing about what I do or do not understand.

Funny thing... there's a certain troll here who loves to use the phrase "self-referential ravings," but the irony is that the trolls all seem to be so obsessed with me personally, while I scrupulously avoid talking about myself.

The real issue is that you can't let your ideas stand on their own. I demolished your argument, so now you want to make it all about me.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

others that you had previously admitted that you were a renter and therefore do not receive property tax bills. You should have taken the olive branch.

The points I made about property tax stand and are based not just on theoretical knowledhe (like you) but also on the practicality of having received and paid property tax bills for the last 20 years. Specifically:

1) SF always raises them by the 2% minimum each year

2) SF always applies everything extra that they legally can

3) SF only lowers property tax upon a successful appeal, which is tough to pull off

4) SF rebases property taxes for every sale, so in practice their revenues go up by far more than 2% a year

5) SF benefits massively from all new development

6) All permitted improvements increase the prop tax basis.

You have disproven none of those 6 points.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

That I know for fact that your points 1-3 are flat out false, 4 is obvious and irrelevant to the discussion since no one has to buy a property that doesn't pencil out, 5 is just a throwaway opinion which you're entitled to but I disagree with (as do most voters, otherwise they would've gone "yes" on B and C), and 6 can partially be passed on to renters.

And none of this changes the very basic fact that compared to mortgage paid on the property, property tax is very minor.

Incidentally, you're the one arguing these points, so the burden of proof is on YOU to prove them, not on me to DISPROVE them. Merely re-stating them is not proof. And I assert that proof is impossible, because they're not true.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

property taxes far exceed their loan payments.

You quite simply do not understand the economics of being in the rental business, so I will not waste any more time on you.

Ellis stands and there is nothing you can do about it, which is why you are so angry.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

Then their costs are minimal anyway.

Ellis may stand, but I think we'll see some reform soon. Even Ed Lee is now supportive, at least in lip service.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

It's about not forcing somebody to be in a business they no longer want to be in, regardless of reason.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 29, 2013 @ 9:02 am

I can't believe you just said that the people who have made SF what it is...the place you now want to want to live...that they should just pack up and leave. It's not a privilege to live in a place that you helped shape and mold and grow into what it is today. And that is coming from a home owner and a business owner in SF who can afford to live here. But its elitist pricks like you that are ruining this city and making even the wealthiest of SF originals want to leave. Have fun in your cultureless void. Good thing you are so privileged.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 7:16 pm

they didn't want to grow up and accept adult responsibility.

The folks showing up in SF now are far more interesting that the aimless Pater Pan's who couldn't hack the real world anywhere else and though they;d get a pass here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

Some places get worse, like Detroit.

Some places get better, like SF.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

Has anyone on the bus ever evicted anyone?

How about I block you from protesting? Fair?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 11:28 am

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Being asian-american (Korean), this reminds me of being blamed for the loss of auto-jobs back in the 80's.
It reminds me of having to apologize for the badly translated (and possibly inaccurate) remarks of some official in Japan for saying "American workers are lazy."

This reminds me of the LA Korean-American community being burned down to the ground (and many condoning it) after the Rodney King beating and the subsequent verdict acquitting the LA police.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

The first tech boom in 1999-2001. Simple as that. Same boom over frivolous things. Same gentrification. Same devastated communities. Same crash coming in a couple years... then the techies will move on but the damage will have already been done.

How quickly we forget.

I don't know about any of this Korean-Japanese stuff. Nobody's gonna burn anything to the ground, so chill with the hyperbole. Folks just see vast sums of money flooding their neighborhoods, brought in by people who have no respect for those neighborhoods and are just looking for a temporary crash pad to party, while people who love this city worry they won't be able to afford to live here. Why is that so hard to understand?

Posted by Greg on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

You prefer poverty and crime. We know this.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 7:55 am

He is also the vainest and self concern creep on the planet....

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 8:39 am

Sounds like Greg wants to talk about issues. You're the ones always steering the conversation back to Greg.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 9:28 am

ride by those of us who care about the crime problem.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 9:44 am

"Nobody's gonna burn anything to the ground, so chill with the hyperbole."

Yeah, really. It's not as if a second person is going to throw a brick through the window of one of the buses.

Posted by C.C.P. on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

Can you explain the blatant disregard for human life and the consequences of such an action?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Brick throwing is good street theater. Look at all the attention it got.

Posted by C.C.P. on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 3:02 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

Regarding Paula Tejada- rent control gave you the means to open your own business? Wtf? I'm glad you pay next to nothing by SF standards in your apartment and can open your own business. We should all be so lucky, you asshole. Moocher.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

Housing is a human right. The UN Declaration of Human Rights, which actually got its start in San Francisco, clearly states that all people deserve access to an adequate living standard - which, I'm almost certain includes housing. "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." (article 25(1))

While the current growth in the city is fueled by tech money, the people who are employed in industries that cater to the entitled tech crowd - servers, dishwashers, nannies, schoolteachers, housekeepers, gardeners, day laborers, and cabbies – deserve to live in their city too. Problem is that even with the highest minimum wage in the country, hard working people cannot afford to live in San Francisco. In order to stay close to jobs and communities many people crowed into apartments to push down the cost of housing. And guess what folks, it’s not only undocumented immigrants who live this way; documented individuals and families with minimal incomes also crowed into apartments to make ends meet. “Why not move out of the city you ask?” First of all, why should anyone have to move; an elitist question from an out of touch and entitled lot. Second, minimum wage is lower outside of the city, there are fewer low-skill jobs, public transpiration is insufficient, and, cars are expensive.

Furthermore, no city should cater to a homogenous group, be it economic homogeneity, ethnic or other. And with these continued evictions, that is where this city is certainly heading. People who work hard, have committed to raising families, creating community, and have been paying local taxes for decades should not be displaced because their jobs or retirement savings have been deemed inadequate by the standards fueled by an influx of tech-industry money.

When a single mother committed to teaching the kids attending the public schools in her native city can’t afford a studio apartment for her and her child, there is something terribly and inexcusably wrong going on! And anyone who doesn't understand that is well, naive and out of touch.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

get to live in Aspen in you cannot afford to live there.

It's not a human right to live in an expensive home in SF for a tiny rent.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2013 @ 7:23 am

exactly!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

Aspen!

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

It proves that a town can function perfectly well, and even flourish and prosper, when housing there is unaffordable to all but a tiny minority.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

I never said a town couldn't "function." Obviously it functions for *someone*. But that doesn't mean we should turn San Francisco into Aspen. Maybe if you like it so much, you can move there.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

well-funded government and services and people there are super-friendly. And yet only 1% of Americans can afford to live there. According to you, that cannot happen, and Aspen should control rents, build BMR's etc/

But they do not and everything works fine. In fact, Aspen has a lot of low-paid service workers because the wealthy consume a lot of services. and they all live and work there happily, although live outside Aspen, of course.

As can people who work in SF if we become that expensive as well. You cannot refute that argument and so it irks you, because it doesn't fit with your theory.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

Sounds like a place you'd like to live, from the glowing way you talk about it. I don't.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

It shows that a town can be "unaffordable" and yet work well and be a great place to live and work for people at all levels.

Just like SF would function well even if the cheapest house to buy was 2 million.

Just substitute Oakland for Carbondale and the analogy fits perfectly. And you hate that.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 28, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

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