It’s become common practice for Silicon Valley-based tech firms, like Google, Apple, and Facebook, to shuttle its employees to and from work on Wi-Fi equipped private buses with cushy, leather seats.But Rebecca Solnit recently argued that these buses are partly to blame for gentrification, mass displacements, and increased housing costs.
There are more than 1,700 tech companies in San Francisco, which employ about 44,000 people.
Not everyone rides these buses, but those that do are making the housing hunt in San Francisco increasingly more difficult.
“At the actual open houses, dozens of people who looked like students would show up with chequebooks and sheaves of resumés and other documents and pack the house, literally: it was like a cross between being at a rock concert without a band and the Hotel Rwanda,” Solnit writes. “There were rumours that these young people were starting bidding wars, offering a year’s rent in advance, offering far more than was being asked. These rumours were confirmed.”
In several neighborhoods throughout San Francisco, rent has gone up between 10 and 135 per cent over the past year, Solnit writes.
More people and small businesses are also facing evictions because they’re getting ousted by tech executives and employees, Solnit writes.
In short, San Francisco has become increasingly unaffordable and the rising costs of living are driving out a lot of people.
“Sometimes the Google Bus just seems like one face of Janus-headed capitalism; it contains the people too valuable even to use public transport or drive themselves,” Solnit writes. “In the same spaces wander homeless people undeserving of private space, or the minimum comfort and security; right by the Google bus stop on Cesar Chavez Street immigrant men from Latin America stand waiting for employers in the building trade to scoop them up, or to be arrested and deported by the government.”