A group of protesters gathered Wednesday to disrupt, as it were, the final day of the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Pier 48 and bring attention to the issues of eviction and gentrification that have vexed San Francisco for several years or longer for those who remember the late 90s. The goal, as Mission Local reports was to raise awareness of the eviction issue among tech folk and to get out the vote on Propositions G and J, which will be on the ballot in November.
Proposition J is the one that will raise the minimum wage in San Francisco by graduated steps to $15 by 2018, and Proposition G is the one that imposes a steep transfer tax on the sale of multi-unit buildings in the first couple years of ownership in order to discourage flipping.
My question: Is it accomplishing anything to descend on a nerd conference and imply, as they're rushing off to see whose app is going to a win a prize, that it's their fault that tenants are being shoved out on the street?
For a while now anti-gentrification and anti-eviction protesters have been looking to draw the connection between the tech industry's current boom and the forcible eviction of longtime residents from their homes in the Mission and elsewhere. While it's not up for debate that tech and the corporate shuttles the industry has brought with it has played a large role in housing demand and rising rents, is it fair to point a finger squarely at an entire industry for our city's fairly complex and long-standing housing crisis?
Sure, there is the lawyer employed by Google, Jack Halprin, who bought a building at 812 Guerrero and is trying to kick all the tenants out under the Ellis Act, sparking protests that date back to April. His name came up in connection to yesterday's protest, as 48 Hills notes, because one of his tenants was on the scene protesting her eviction. But even the ultra-left 48 Hills finds it hard to see the point in what they were doing at this conference.
The party was supposed to be some exciting thing, but I walked in and it was totally lame and boring: A bunch of mostly young, mostly white men, drinking free beer and either playing on their phones or with their laptops.
The room where the awards ceremony was going to be held was pretty empty. Nobody seemed to care much.
And then the protesters got "evicted" from the conference, which 48 Hills Tim Redmond calls a "Hell of a message for San Francisco, 2014."