I’m a big fan of the Urban Cincy podcast coming out of Cincinnati, Ohio. This short video is a response to some of the head-scratching and confusion about why some San Franciscans are protesting the so-called “Google Bus”. The protests aren’t about the buses themselves or private transportation per se. Instead, the protests are about real estate and the economic distortions that the tech economy represents.
The San Francisco Bay Area’s superheated tech economy has created some unexpected difficulties. Rents and real estate values have gone out of control. The average one bedroom apartment in the Mission District (ground zero for young tech workers) is $3,800 a month. That same one bedroom apartment will cost you $800,000 if you want to purchase it, and you’d better be prepared to compete with buyers who are paying cash.
The middle class is being squeezed out of the city and social and political frictions are surfacing. It’s the exact opposite of post World War II white flight when urban neighborhoods were abandoned and left to poor ethnic minorities in favor of the suburbs. Here in San Francisco a multi-cultural wave of wealthy people are now flooding the inner city in search of a higher quality of life and companies are struggling to attract talent to their suburban corporate campuses with private luxury bus service – at least until they can find sufficient office space in the city. Meanwhile, property owners in outer ring suburbs struggle to recover from the recent mortgage and unemployment crisis.