Sunday, February 09, 2014

Bay Area high school reporter on gentrification fight

Upon first look, the protesting, which in West Oakland escalated to the shattering of a bus window, seems brought upon by anger that the private buses use public bus stops to pick up their workers free of charge, consequently delaying public buses, building up traffic and forcing public bus riders into the street to board buses. However, it is clear that Bay Area residents and the San Franciscans in particular who are enraged by the buses, may not be appeased by the one dollar per day per stop fee they currently pay for use of the Muni stops. Nor has Google’s extravagant and eye-roll inducing attempt at compromise by running a private ferry service from San Francisco to Redwood City done anything to relieve the locals’ anger.
Landlords… are quick to kick out tenants, many of whom have been San Francisco residents for decades.
To some, it is hard to believe that so many locals are fiercely upset about traffic jams, considering the buses take cars off the road, but the issues surrounding the Google bus run deeper. The protesters represent the many San Franciscans who feel that companies like Google and the recent tech boom are responsible for the growing gentrification of San Francisco that has displaced many residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Put simply, gentrification is when a city or neighborhood receives an unwanted face-lift (such as new condos and apartments) that attract a higher income population — consequently pushing out the original lower income residents with high rents and evictions. In the case of places like Manhattan and San Francisco, newcomers are attracted by the culture of creativity, experimentation and innovation (think San Francisco’s Summer of Love 1967) cultivated by artists and free thinkers — exactly the people whom gentrification is driving out. The melting pot of ethnicities, ways of life, worldviews and economic and social classes in San Francisco have been gradually diluted since the early 90s. If this gentrification continues, soon there will be nothing left but wealthy people in a pretty city full of hills.

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