On January 21, dozens of protesters, decrying displacement and inequality, gathered near City Hall in San Francisco on a chilly Tuesday morning. At around 9:15 a.m., they marched down Market Street and blockaded two tech shuttles, one that was parked at a MUNI (San Francisco Municipal Railway) bus stop, the other in the middle of the street. Tech shuttles - also infamously known as "Google buses" - are private corporate buses that take tech industry workers from their homes in San Francisco down the peninsula to work in Silicon Valley.
Protesters surrounded the buses and placed signs near them that read: "Stop Displacement Now" and "Warning: Rents and evictions up near private shuttle stops." A UC-Berkeley study and maps show that evictions and rent increases often follow the locations of tech bus stops. One sign bluntly read: "Fuck off Google."
Present at the protest was Martina Ayala, a teacher, artist and consultant for San Francisco nonprofits working with low-income families. She is currently facing a no-fault eviction from her residence in San Francisco's Outer Richmond neighborhood that sits next to the Pacific Ocean beach. Ayala told Truthout, "The landlord would like us to self-evict" - but not by way of a buy-out, in which landlords evict tenants by paying them to leave. Instead, Ayala said, "They're trying to get us out without having to pay the eviction costs. And so they're doing that by harassing us and calling us every day, sending us three-day notice to pay rent or quit without following through with service." Why would the landlord go to such lengths to push the family out? Ayala says, "Even though we are paying $1,750, that is still not enough for the landlord, because the average rent is now $3,000."
The Google bus blockade lasted for a half-hour.