Pics Buses operated by Google and Apple to ferry their staff to and from work were blockaded today by Bay Area anti-gentrification protestors.
The coaches were held up in San Francisco and over the bay in Oakland – the latter a port city with a high-crime rate and relatively cheap rents, which has caused it to become a new home for SF residents fleeing sky-high rents driven up by the influx of well-paid tech workers.
Today's brouhaha comes just two weeks after a Google bus was blockaded in San Francisco by protestors seeking to raise awareness of the distortions filthy rich tech workers are enforcing on San Francisco's constricted rental market.
Activists stopped buses earlier today throughout the bay, though according to reports many of these blockades were broken up by the police within half an hour or so.
One Googler named Craig Frost said on Twitter that his bus had been stopped by protestors, and it's alleged one of the windows was broken. He posted a photo of two individuals holding a white-on-blue sign that read: "Fuck Off Google".
My Gbus got hit by protesters in Oakland and they broke a window. pic.twitter.com/VGCyhBLgyd— Craig Frost (@craigsfrost) December 20, 2013
Meanwhile, Bay Area blog IndyBay had its own story that claimed at 7.45am "over 50 protesters" blockaded a Google bus at MacArthur BART station in Oakland.
"Capital is the driver, gentrification is the vehicle," read one of their signs, according to a photo published online.
Many within the tech community argue that the buses are a good thing as they encourage workers not to drive and therefore ease load on the Bay Area's strained Mad Max freeways.
But the buses have become a symbol of how Silicon Valley's latest wave of prosperity is lifting tech workers into great prosperity, while leaving many others behind. Moneyed engineers working for Google in Mountain View and Apple in Cupertino are able to fork out thousands of dollars a month in rent further north in the Bay Area, which drives up costs for long-time San Franciscans and Oaklanders who don't work in the tech sector.
"I'm sympathetic to issues surrounding housing and gentrification but these people are fixating on a symptom and not the actual problem, which is outdated zoning laws and not enough emphasis on affordable housing regulations for real estate companies," wrote a Googler who had been caught up in a previous bus protest.
Though there are no easy solutions to the problems the buses represent, it's likely that 2014 will bring further protests as the wage gap between tech and non-tech widens.
In a separate event, social network Twitter held its Christmas party last night in ... San Francisco's City Hall – see below. ®
Preview for the evening pic.twitter.com/mrr30FIYzw— Michael Taylor (@mjtaylor21) December 19, 2013