protest
Photo by Sean Maguire, via Twitter.

Several Microsoft Connector shuttles were reportedly blocked for a total of 45 minutes in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood this morning by protesters handing out flyers and carrying signs that read, “Gentrification Stops Here.”

The protests, as detailed on Twitter and the Capitol Hill Seattle blog, underscore rising tensions in cities including Seattle and San Francisco over the effect of the growing tech workforce on housing costs and real estate, in some cases pushing out longtime residents. A new report from real estate company Trulia found that prices were 82 percent higher in tech hubs than in other large metro areas.

This is part of a larger movement. Following earlier protests in the Bay Area, the City of San Francisco struck a deal with technology companies for a pilot program to charge private bus companies for the use of the city’s bus stops for the transportation of tech employees from San Francisco to their offices in Silicon Valley.

The flyer handed out by the protesters in Seattle this morning explained that they were “trying to prevent the tech companies like Microsoft from sucking out what’s left of Seattle’s soul.” Here’s an image of the flyer for the rest of the message.

Microsoft declined to comment on the protest.

Comments

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    I was wondering when these would start here.

    I admit that when the Connector started and I was at Microsoft had a vague sense of unease about it. I could see the benefit for Microsoft and the community of taking cars off the roads. But a private company operating what in essence is a private mass transit system felt to me like we crossed a line of some kind. In the past a company like Microsoft would try to address their needs by working with government to build a public solution.

    I’m not saying Microsoft or Google are being evil in doing this: I think they just saw a problem that needed fixing and got tired of waiting for increasingly ineffective government to do something. But I think they’ve set in motion things with consequences like these protesters are calling out.

    BTW, I have that same unease with Amazon’s proposed enclosed open spaces. It feels to me like those would have been public parks in the past.

    In this vein too, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more complaints about the tolling on 520 effectively turning that into a near-private Microsoft highway.

    • Harkonnen

      This is silly. Microsoft has a right to provide services to its employees. A bunch of under-employed hippies targeting Microsoft will not solve the problem of increasing rents. By the way, gentrification leads to lower crime rates so what these protesters really want to do is to keep Capitol Hill as some kind of edgy and vaguely dangerous place for them to play in.

      • Susie John

        “A bunch of under-employed hippies…” I really need to address this, because it is an attitude that I keep noticing in local online discussions about this. Inflammatory remarks like this will not help your case, and make you appear uninformed, and callous to boot. I cannot afford my Capitol Hill home any more, and I happen to work more than one job; I am FAR from an under-employed hippie. My primary source of income is in tech, and is low paying for the industry and region. I dislike working in tech to be honest but we all have to work, and this is my best option. I have relatively few other career options because I live in (and was born and raised in, incidentally) Seattle. I have a learning disability which causes me to be terrible at coding, so I cannot do that for a living, my career options in tech are relatively limited, and software development, which is out of the question for me, is the best paying option if I want to remain in my neighborhood – my home – of 20 years.

        • Susie John

          To clarify, ” I have relatively few other career options because I live in (and was born and raised in, incidentally) Seattle.” meaning that this is a tech town and the most abundant work options tend to lie in work at a tech company.

          • Guest Guy

            I’m betting you “really want to work” but have a whole bunch of attitude and requirements rather than just digging in and working.

            http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/11/hipsters_on_food_stamps.html

          • Thomas Haley

            Whatever, man. She came here to say her piece. You don’t need to be all nasty Horatio Alger-ish.

          • Guest Guy

            She can move like anyone else, if she can’t find work and/or it doesn’t pay enough. The neighborhood doesn’t owe her anything just because she lived there 20 years ago or whatever.
            Times change, neighborhoods change, its part of life.

          • Snowman

            Exactly. Just another form of evolution. Get with the program, or move to Tacoma. That simple.

          • gubatron

            don’t feed the trolls.

          • Curt Brockhaus

            Hello Susie John, My name is Curt, I live in Lansing Michigan. I am about 50 miles from Flint and 90 miles from Detroit. I worked a career (near 30 years) for General Motors. I was first hired by Oldsmobile division. Anyway, I can’t help but notice on the news video – about 90% foreign brand automobiles. At the same time the people ‘out there’ are complaining about under-employment, paying a fair share and housing values. I have written a book about a similar situation occurring here. It works on a digital reader like Nook etc. http://curtb.webs.com/
            If you want a short version, start on the Eye P or TMMK page. If you don’t want to read it, kindly pass it on. Thanks. Best of luck.

        • Syndicate

          Wtf? So let me get this straight, b/c you can’t maintain a good well paying job everyone else should do without and not buy a house or rent a condo? My god! Can we not make up our minds people!? Do we want more well paying jobs or not? Only in America will you find someone protesting another persons success simply b/c it’s not their own. Here’s a free tip: get the F*** off the street and stop spending your time blocking perfectly good people from getting to work, and instead go TO WORK so you can afford your living conditions.

    • Thomas R.

      I would think better a private corporation run a mass transit system than a public institution. Consider the fact that metro has had budget issues the past 5 years and will be cutting several routes in the next few months.

      And tolls are a normal way of life in just about every other major city. LA, NYC, Dallas, SF, etc. You have obviously been too sheltered only living in Seattle.

      • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

        First, I’m not saying I think 520 is a near-private highway, I’m saying I’m surprised others haven’t made that argument. In part due to there not being other tolls in this region and how expensive the tools are.

        I don’t disagree that they have a right to provide this service. But in the past problems like this would be addressed through solutions that ultimately benefited everyone, not just the employer.

        I totally agree with a private company running public transit. Part of what is driving resentment is that this is private transit.

        And gentrification does improve crime rates but as another poster put it, it also raises rents.

        I’m not saying I agree with the protesters (or disagree either). Rather I’m saying that I saw the possibility that concerns like these protesters are citing would arise with the introduction of this system a few years ago.

        • Thomas R.

          Private corporations are responsible for their shareholders and employees. There is no incentive or justification for them to develop a solution that ultimately benefits everyone. That’s the government’s job.

          The disconnect here is that you see flaws in the system, but you expect private corporations to fix the issues when it’s the government, be it city, state or federal, that caused the issue and it’s the government’s responsibility to fix the issue.

          If there is too much crime, do you expect Microsoft to fix that too? If rent is too high then why protest Microsoft? Why not protest the city government for not instituting rent control?

          • Curt Brockhaus

            Thomas R. I somewhat disagree with you. It is a private corporation’s responsibility to -use wisely- the resources of the community and social structure around them. I know, I worked a career for General Motors. …

      • mikepope

        People seem to forget that Microsoft and other Seattle-area tech vendors also extensively support existing mass transit by subsidizing Orca cards. Way more employees use those than can possibly be served by MIcrosoft’s Connector buses. The companies also provide secure bike parking and showers.

        In any event, the idea that blocking Connectors is going to have the slightest impact on gentrification is absurd. Capitol Hill was gentrified in the 70s and 80s. It hasn’t been a place to look for cheap housing in decades.

    • Brenden

      Totally agree with Chris. I loved having a Connector stop 2 blocks from home and the wi-fi. But had the same unease about the social impact of a private solution. Also, my sense from discussions with MS Commute, they’ve made zero effort to work with KCM.

      Those who think it’s not feasible to work with KCM don’t know about 8xx and 9xx routes to the local private schools ( http://metro.kingcounty.gov/schedules/ ). That’s right, private entities can fully fund KCM routes.

      • jdiaz

        9xx KCM routes are private transit by another name. Not everyone can take them nor do they stop where other riders may want to go even if it is along the route.

    • http://WiredPen.com/ kegill

      I also think everyone is forgetting that the prod to help with congestion came from the legislature and was directed at all large employers. Subsidized or free-with-employment Orca cards are SOP for large employers in the region – MSFT isn’t being generous voluntarily.
      http://www.ctrboard.org/library/CTR%20story%20for%20TR%20News.pdf

    • gerdo888

      Personally I see nothing wrong with a private party stepping in to solve an issue with its employees, and doing its part as a responsible/forward thinking corporate citizen.

      The sense of entitlement reflected in such movement is rather disturbing.

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    • S

      Microsoft and a group of employees put many years of considerable effort (attending public meetings, sending letters, working with council members etc) into working with Metro to try to get a bus routed over Capitol Hill and across 520 to Redmond. After years of effort, the best that could be done was to have the 545 take a small detour to Bellevue and Olive, partly due to budget constraints, and partly due to the challenge of actually getting a bus across the hill on a route that was sufficiently useful to enough people to justify the expense. I worked there at the time and was involved in those efforts. At the time (more than 10 years ago) Cap Hill had by far the largest concentration of MS employees – well over a thousand – in Seattle, so to say that the Connector is responsible for the gentrification of Cap Hill is a little absurd.

  • guest

    Pretty sad copy-catting of folks in SF. Pretty pathetic to see that Seattle is behind the curve compared to SF even when it comes to protesting urban gentrification.

  • james

    This is bound to happen. As we import more educated professionals from other countries who want to settle here and displace locals who are less educated and less technical, there is bound to be a backlash against this time of “invasion” of money/the other in cities. But the issue lies with our own education system as well as political system which discourages education and increases unnecessary immigration (and no, there are no dearth of US technical professionals).

    • balls187

      Don’t assume just because some doesn’t work in Tech that they’re less educated and/or less technical.

      • Walter

        Agreed, many people who are highly educated, such as architects (the real architects, not the software architects) are highly educated – probably more educated than the people in tech industry honestly – but don’t get pay a lot, yet highly influential to the society.

        • apunahasapeemapetalon

          “Probably more educated”…really? What leads you to that conclusion? What counts as more educated? More years in school? Harder curriculum? What about learning AFTER graduation? What are the comparative rates of change of state-of-the-art in architecture vs the software industry? Also, are you implying that tech workers are not highly influential to society? Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg…all have tech backgrounds and no one can argue that they are not highly influential to society.

  • ritaashley

    The impact on real estate when the buyer is a higher income person is tragic. It is a real shame those higher income people don’t contribute to the over all health of the local and state economies. If only we could make them pay taxes, eat out, buy bikes and haircuts, use local services and pay property taxes. And fie on those companies whose personnel need transportation rather than clog the already clogged highways with polluting vehicles. They should pay taxes and contribute charitably to the state/city. How dare they pay employees competitive salaries then offset their commute expenses and struggles. They are shameful for wanting to be successful and doing so at the expense of raising rental and housing costs while insuring school districts have a strong tax base. Such greed.

  • Thomas R.

    So does this also mean the protesters are against the environment? Because I’m all in favor of MS employees riding the bus rather than driving individually.

    And why protest the people who are just trying to make a living by working? Wouldn’t it maker more sense to protest the property owners who are increasing the rent?

    • sho_yu

      Agree wholeheartedly. At least Microsoft and Google are trying to lessen the environmental impact by using mass transit. And has anyone noticed that many of these Connector vehicles are running on clean energy? or the amount of money Gogglers/Microsofties are pumping back into the local economies? Nope…let’s fire them all.

    • kpt

      Or maybe protest the city council for not allowing more housing to be built? Decreasing the supply of housing won’t do much to decrease rents.

    • Cameron Newland

      No , it makes no sense to protest the property owners. They raise rents only when the market allows them to–they are largely innocent pawns. Rents can only be brought down by allowing more units to be developed, increasing supply, and to do that, the city would need to roll back regulations on residential or mixed-use development and/or change zoning laws to encourage more construction.

      Likewise, protesting the City Council for not instituting rent control would be counterproductive, because rent control reduces the number of market rate units and reduces the rate of new construction, so tents might actually rise instead of fall. Rent control is morally wrong and is universally frowned upon by economists and policymakers alike. A better way to create a better housing situation for those living on a low income is to mandate that developers build some proportion (25%?) of their new units with floorplans that low-income renters or buyers can afford. Allowing more micro-apartments/apodments would be really helpful to get low-income people into quality affordable housing. Brand new apodments rent for less than $700/month and require no government subsidies.

      • LostProtestors

        Property Owners are not innocent pawns, they don’t have to raise rents. If they want to be more greedy than of course they can raise rents. Shouldn’t we protest them for not building more low income housing developments?

        And you’re basically suggesting that City Council require that Property Developers/Owners build more low income housing. So either protest City Council or protest the Developers/Owners for not developing more low income housing.

        Regardless, why protest Microsoft? These protestors are idiots.

        • Cameron Newland

          Property owners are innocent pawns. Do you think they just sit around all day thinking about how they can screw us all over and act like total a**holes? Of course not! Property owners are people, too. They are simply operating a business, which means that they need to get an appropriate, market rate rent for their units. They’re not in control of what the market is willing to pay. The real people who are responsible for driving up rents are the renters themselves, and those two control the supply of housing (which would be the developers and the people who regulate development).

        • Paul Birkeland

          If you are a property owner, and you are getting substantially lower rent than you should be getting, you’ll have a tough time getting financing in the future. (The banks will think you suck as a landlord)

  • snowyegret

    The protest seems kind of un-thought-out to me. Are they calling on Microsoft to stop hiring people? Or to reduce their employees’ salaries? Would they prefer Detroit to Seattle? The rents are quite low in Detroit.

    • Susie John

      The protest seems un-thought out, yes, but it is a symptom of a very real problem in my neighborhood, and however haphazard it is, it has created visibility and a boost to existing and necessary dialogue. This has been my home for over a decade, I work in tech, and I *still* cannot afford the neighborhood any more. Most folks that I have talked to who are coming in are coders of some type, and not everyone excels at that, regardless of how hard they try, particularly in Seattle where it’s highly competitive. A lot of folks like you are literally telling people like me to leave our homes and move somewhere crummy or dangerous because, effectively, you’ve decided it’s yours now, because you have more money than us. Can you take a moment to think about how awful that is? I was born and raised in Seattle, I chose Cap Hill as my home in the 90’s, and have years of local activism under my belt, because this is one of those neighborhoods that people historically truly adopted. Yet within a couple of short years, we have transplants who don’t care to learn about where they are moving to apart from some vague “the neighborhood is hip” idea, what the local culture is, and who really do take on a kind of crummy attitude toward the locals that they’ve just moved in amongst, and worst of all, are telling long time residents to get out if we don’t like it. It’s that attitude as much as the unaffordable rents that is injecting a lot of animosity into the situation.

      • snowyegret

        First, I am not a Microsoft employee, a coder, or a Capitol Hill resident. I am retired living on savings and Social Security.

        It would help if the protesters came forth with specific proposals rather than just generalized attacks on Microsoft coders. Are you proposing a law to prevent coders from moving to Capitol Hill? I doubt it.

        It sounds as if perhaps you might be proposing rent control. If so, that is what we should be discussing.

        Personally, I think a better solution is what everybody has been talking about of late: attacking income inequality by requiring corporations and the rich to pay their fair share of taxes, by extending unemployment benefits, and by raising the minimum wage significantly.

        I could also see proposing that Microsoft be required to pay Metro for using the streets for picking up its passengers.

        But let’s take the generalized rage about rising rents on Capitol Hill and turn it into reasonable, specific proposals.

        • nkbae

          The connector buses do not stop at metro stops. Microsoft also already pays for an orca card for all employees. So I can’t see how they can possibly help out anymore. This is just a bunch of dumb protesters with nothing better to do on a Monday morning because mess up other people’s schedules.

          • snowyegret

            Correct, but they are a private bus service using public property as private bus stops to pick up their passengers. I don’t think it’s unreasonable in return to ask them to contribute to the kitty for public transit. Even if you don’t favor this proposal, at least it is a specific proposal amenable to reasoned discussion in contrast to free-floating rage against coders or Microsoft.

          • Memphis Blue

            They don’t use public bus stops, nor do they stop at places that private cars or buses couldn’t use to pickup or drop off passengers. The idea of these particular buses being taxed is ridiculous. If they weren’t available you’d just have more traffic on Capitol Hill everyday and more people owning cars. Arguing against this bus service is silly.

          • snowyegret

            Not arguing against this bus service at all. And I think there are good arguments against requiring Microsoft to pay something (which you and others are making) but also some arguments in favor. Institutions and companies with large work forces are required to contribute to the commuting solution. Of course, Microsoft is doing that with the Orca cards and bus service.

            The question is since they are having their own private bus service (apparently not very efficient if the claims the buses are largely empty are true) with amenities that regular citizens on Metro buses do not enjoy and that picks up passengers on public streets, should Microsoft chip in a little more.

            It’s a negotiation and a judgment call and would require more information than I have about Microsoft’s current contribution and commuting impact compared to other companies to make a convincing case.

          • Skeptic7

            They already pay gas taxes and registration fees.

        • Memphis Blue

          Agreed, I pay more and would pay more if necessary to support my community, but I draw the line at telling a private company they need to pay for use of the roads. We do that already with corporate taxes and individual do it through gas taxes.

        • Pathetic Cry Baby

          Unbelievable. You are an idiot with a ridiculous sense of self entitlement. You chose a neighborhood and like all neighborhoods it has changed over time and now you can’t afford it.

          That means it’s time to move. It happens all the time and it’s no big deal. The neighborhood owes you nothing and your protests are really just whining that things aren’t the way they used to be.

          Get over it.

        • Skeptic7

          The rich and middle class pay ALL the taxes, the poor don’t pay their fair share of anything, yet use a lot.

      • Memphis Blue

        Not every well paid Microsoft employee who lives on Capitol Hill is a coder, nor does a neighborhood becoming unaffordable have anything to do with local companies providing good jobs. Prices go up and go down that’s the nature of Capitalism, of course the hip and trendy places get hit first with price hikes because being hip and trendy is what makes them attractive. As for long-term residences not being able to afford the neighborhood anymore, sounds like a call for rent control or more affordable housing reserved in each new condo or apartment building. Protesting a bus service that takes people to work and employs even more people, i.e. the bus drivers and dispatchers is just plain stupid.

      • balls187

        Generalize much?

        You realize you’re arguing with the same logical failure as people who are calling protestors lazy hippies?

        And are you saying that more cost effective places are crummy and unsafe?

      • Cameron Newland

        Good riddance…I’ll be happy to have someone as entitled as you leaving the neighborhood!

        Do you think that low-income people who live in Manhattan, one of the world’s most expensive places to live, have some sort of right to continue living there when they cannot afford to pay the very high rent? Of course not! Nobody is entitled to live somewhere they cannot afford just because they’ve lived there for a long time, and the smug sense of entitlement that makes them think that they are somehow owed something just because they’re a long-time resident is simply irrational and pathetic.

        If you want to move somewhere where the rent is cheap, feel free to move to Yakima. At least there, you’ll have a few more decades before you start complaining about their rents rising, too.

      • Baby Geee

        For fuck’s sake why is everyone attacking this woman for having an opinion? She doesn’t want to move out of the neighborhood she’s lived in for 10+ years and I don’t blame her. The true issue is rent control and the Connector bus dilemma is but a small cog in the wheel that is gentrification. Unfortunately it happens everywhere. I’m from Chicago where I’ve literally watched families, who have lived in neighborhoods for generations, being pushed out in favor of yuppy double income couples who, for some retarded reason or another think it’s ok to pay $1300 for a one bedroom apartment. Maybe we should be protesting developers instead, really… who knows what the solution may be. It’s definitely not participating in a discussion with some “holier than thou” “who gives a fuck if you’re poor” attitude.

    • Curt Brockhaus

      This site is called “GeekWire” Dispatches from the digital frontier … ?

      I realize this is Seattle but concerning Detroit, you aren’t supposed to be like Glenn Beck. You can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Anyway, there are reasons ‘Detroit’ is the way it is and it is not because of GM employees (like me). I can rearrange your thoughts for you if you give this a read. http://curtb.webs.com/ No, I’m not peddling a book – it’s free – and you don’t need to watch video first. I’m only doing the same thing as you are. My post is just a little bit longer — that’s all…

  • Champagne Papi

    I agree that the private buses are super lame, and if you hate taking the real bus that much, you should just live in the city you work in. But I think Seattle is pretty far off from becoming the next San Francisco. It still could happen, I don’t know. But in SF, it’s becoming hard to find an affordable place to live in OAKLAND. For comparison, imagine in Seattle was so expensive that it was not only impossible for any middle-class residents to live here, but even fairly difficult to find affordable housing in Tacoma. And for the the sake of this hypothetical, also imagine Tacoma had close to the highest murder rate in the country.

  • Angela
  • Argento Pinciati

    Seriously! I recommend the protestors get a STEM education, get a job, and live well in our successful, modern society. Or, move to the Amish country where there is no progress bothering them. jeez

    • Local Tech Recruiter

      Get a STEM education? Easy for you to say…. As the saying goes “If it was so easy everyone would do it.”

      Although I disagree with the protesters I do empathize with their point of view. The bottom line is that all these tech companies in the area have created opportunities for those who wish to seek them out and do the work to earn it. Otherwise those who are not willing to work or for some reason just never get the chance will be pushed to the margins.

  • Guest

    Shame on these poor, misguided fools who we allowed to obstruct all transit (even public transit) during rush hour. Their concern is not about gentrification, but is rather about capitalism. Given that we’ve observed Seattle’s 21st-century experiments with anarchism fall to pieces within days, I don’t think we should allow these agitators even an hour of our time.

    In conclusion, I’d like to ask our drivers to simply drive around these men and I’ve asked our police (about whom these agitators are also irrationally angry) to ensure that these men stay out of the road. Basic public safety, not suppression of speech, is the name of my game.

  • Adam

    Isn’t Capitol Hill was already gentrified? Has Capitol Hill gotten so run-down in the last decade that it’s getting gentrified again? I lived in Capitol Hill 12 years ago when I worked at Microsoft and there was no Connector bus then. I don’t think Microsoft having their own bus is really encouraging it’s employees to live in Seattle neighborhoods. Not everybody wants to live in the suburbs, even tech company employees, and we make the choice to live in urban neighborhoods. Stopping the Connector buses isn’t going to change where those riders want to live.

  • threeLegDog

    I’m ready for “Oryx and Crake” -style corporate enclaves. Where companies house and protect the people that create IP for society and keep the riffraff out.

  • EricLa

    You know they us MS Word to make that flier. Just sayin’

  • balls187

    Capital Hill wants to preserve it’s unique culture. It’s great that SLU isn’t the bum infested dump it was 20 years ago, but can you blame Capital Hill residents for not wanting to let CapHill turn into yet another generic tech hub with (shee)people being shuttled between work and their nesting grounds?

    And seriously, how many overpriced Tom Douglas restaurants does a neighborhood really need?

    • 100_people

      Capitol Hill doesn’t have any Tom Douglas restaurants. But it’s totally gentrified already. A little late for protests.

      • balls187

        Exactly. SLU on the otherhand, might as well be renamed to TDville.

        • sea808

          Ethan Stowell restaurants are the new TD places, right?

    • Cameron Newland

      Gentrification is inevitable. Instead of complaining, these idiots should simply move to the Central District, Pioneer Square, SoDo, or Georgetown. That’ll give them few years until those neighborhoods start to gentrify.

  • Jesse Kocher

    The underlying problem is lack of housing supply. Everything else stems from that. You can’t stop people from moving here, microsoft or not. You can’t prevent landlords from raising prices to a rising market rate.

    Some good words from this by Alex Steffen (until recently a Seattleite) from today’s SF Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/feb/10/unaffordable-cities-global-scandal-housing-lack

  • Scott Weaver

    Yakima has incredibly cheap rents. I am sure you can live in the city center for next to nothing. I will buy you a one way bus ticket!

  • Ken Allen

    The argument that the protesters are making makes it sound like Microsoft has some kind of grand scheme to gentrify Seattle. If it makes any difference to you, the Connectors also run to Everett, Kent, Maple Valley, Renton, Duvall, and lot of other communities around Puget Sound. It’s not like they have targeted Seattle – this is a benefit to all employees to get them to work using mass transit. Having less cars on the road benefits all of us, not to mention the environment.

  • Derek Schlicker

    Totally love the fact that the protesters are using Twitter and (I’m assuming) MS Word to communicate their protest about companies like MS and (same vein) Twitter.

    • Chris G

      The Twitter link is for an observer of the protests, not from the protesters themselves.

  • Somebody else

    I don’t really get the hate. It’s not Microserfs driving up the rents in Cap Hill, it’s all the new Amazon employees. That is just one small bus route. The connectors are nothing new and MS has been around for 30+ years, and yet has managed to contain itself to the eastside.

    • sea808

      True. Microsoft rich happened in 1990-1995. Today’s will never be wealthy.

    • boop

      True. And Amazon has its own shuttles, although they do not have an Amazon logo on them. And the drivers who drive them are unsafe.

  • d_r_r

    Silly – this town has been getting ‘gentrified’ for decades. Why aren’t they protesting in LA over the Hollywood stars pricing everyone out?

  • guest

    I wonder how many of these hippies are (now legally) high on pot…Just sayin’.

  • Thomas Haley

    I think people are protesting the MS shuttles because they are a new thing – but when I look at the picture, I see the *street*: a public space almost entirely given over to generating profits for auto makers, oil companies, insurance companies…
    It seems like the battle for best use of public space is already lost. What if the “soul” of Seattle was for pedestrians and bikes first, and not a cars-only asphalt lattice? Of course I understand that cars serve a purpose, but it is such a sacrifice to have them, and it seems like slightly less of a sacrifice to have corporate shuttles.
    (Here’s a look at public space use in Capital Hill. SCCC in the upper right.)

  • Mark MacKay

    Microsoft establishes its own weird hierarchy by creating Connector buses and shuttles for full time employees and providing Orca cards for contract employees. What’s that about?

    • necromancer

      Nope.. the employees get orca cards too..

      • Mark MacKay

        Doesn’t really answer the question.

    • balls187

      Pretty sure MSFT doesn’t provide *any* benefits to contract employees, outside of free soda and coffee. Benefits like orca passes are done through the contracting companies.

      There was a case a few decades ago where contract employees sued MSFT for Stock Benefits because they were considered common law employees, and the stock purchase plan did not specify they could not participate in the program. MSFT settled out of court, and ever since has been very rigid in enforcing the delineation between CSG and FTE.

    • sea808

      Contract employees are not FTEs, and should not be. MSFT is famous for validating as much in court cases by former contractors – they should not get these things.

  • Ezra Hub

    I’m considering renting a snow plow, slapping a bunch of Romney 2012 and “Republicans.. working hard so you don’t have to!” stickers on it, painting “Capitol Hill Hippie Removal Service” on the side and then gently “removing” them from the middle of the street as a service to public safety some morning. Wouldn’t take much, just a gentle nudge (aim is not to hurt them). Imagine the looks on their faces though, would be absolutely priceless. Can’t wait to read the news story.

    • Guest

      “Local maniac murders men with plow”

      If you need a defence attorney, I recommend Reddit.

      • Ezra Hub

        I think you missed the point. Also, lol @ Reddit…

        • Guest

          Please don’t joke about murdering men just to prove a point.

          • cant we all just get along

            fur is murder … not nudging hippies back onto the sidewalk

  • A Soul

    Don’t forget that MSFT employees advocated with the city for *years* for a decent Cap Hill-Redmond bus route, or for the 545 to go over the Hill. It was only after all attempts failed and the city turned its back that Microsoft stepped in and solved the problem.
    Speaking of inflammatory name calling, the flyer they are using is pretty awful. These are *people* that are going to work. They are not soulless. They are people. Nice people, actually.

    • Skeptic7

      Working is passe with hipsters.

    • boop

      Agree that Microsoft people are, well, mostly nice people. They certainly are not “soulless”–whatever that means. But the 545 is run by Sound Transit and the other buses are run by Metro: These are not in the purview of the City of Seattle. By the way, the 545 now does go up the Hill just a tad (up Olive and down Bellevue Ave.) before getting on I-5.

  • Rowan Taylor

    Ironically, these tech companies are what extended the soul of Seattle and San Francisco such as it’s brought in more socioeconomic diversity from around the world and led real innovation that either helped create their jobs, supported their health amongst others. BS liberal trolls.

  • Dan

    The situation in SF is retarded. The Google buses are for people who work in Mountain View but live about 45 miles north in SF.

    If they lived in Mountain View, they would pay less for more square footage, get a yard if they like and have a reasonable commute.

    They are turning SF in to a super expensive, nerdy bedroom community.

    SF can be nice but its already expensive enough and that’s why they protest.

    Seattle sounds different to me but I don’t know the area.

    • 94103er

      You don’t know Mountain View either, making silly comments like this. A, Mountain View is just as expensive as SF these days and getting ‘a yard if they like’ is big big bucks as demand is very high for SFH’s. B, if you’re in Mountain View you’d need a car (unless you want to brave MV’s inadequate cycling facilities; I won’t even mention VTA as it is a pathetic joke) and you’d thus be further clogging the streets of MV taking one more parking space Google doesn’t have.

      C, SF’s gentrification has been an unstoppable reality of life since the ’90s. Lucky for you, since the ’90s many neighborhoods have gotten way safer and nicer to live in, and soon enough we’ll see tons more possibilities in the southeast quadrant of the city. Which is a good thing, because Tech has migrated northward. The Google Buses have little to do with that, other than make movers and shakers realize that they’d rather start a company at home than commute on a bus to Mountain View.

  • WildBill0283

    How would they like it if a bunch of Microsoft employees blocked the entrance to a pot shop?

  • dieniggerdie

    Jelly naggar lovers ! Hope there darkies give them all aids

  • panacheart

    These are the companies that are bringing in jobs that keep the city alive. Jobs that pay more than $12 an hour. Jobs that can afford to pay for a burger made by somebody that mas $15 an hour. Jobs. Good jobs.

  • Jen Southmayd

    My husband and I recently moved from the Seattle area to Texas, and I have to say that the Seattle/Bellevue/Redman/Kirkland areas are the most expensive places I have ever lived in. Food, rent, gas are all ridiculously expensive. We moved to Austin a year and a half ago, and bought an amazing house in a great neighborhood that costs less per month than the rent we paid in Seattle. During the year and a half we’ve lived here, our house has doubled in value. Why? Because there are literally THOUSANDS of people moving here every day, all of them need a place to live, and the housing market is booming. We were lucky, we got in on the ground level of a great opportunity. The bad thing here is that traffic is INSANE. There is no real public transit infrastructure, so it sometimes takes my husband an hour and a half to drive the twenty miles to his job. My advice would be buy your home, and be thankful for the public/private mass transit. Oh, and don’t move to Austin. :)

  • RudeDawg

    Did you notice that the solution in SF was a government shakedown of the tech companies? Thanks for offloading the public transportation system! Your reward, a 1.5 million dollar fee over 18 months for doing our job better than us. Blackmail at it’s best.

  • Laurie

    The unaffordability of Capitol Hill is far from an anomaly. The whole city is unaffordable unless you happen upon a building that is privately owned or you want roommates. I’ll admit it’s far from San Francisco. However there are still surrounding areas extremely far North or far South that have affordable rents. I currently live in a great neighborhood that had I not moved there 10 years ago there’s no way I could live there as the rents are high. That aside I think affordable places are possible in any area of the city provided you hunt for them. However because most buildings are owned by corporate developers that make big money off of these places they are hard to find. The other reality is many people consider luxury items like cable, a car, eating out, internet, and the like to be necessities. Newsflash they’re not, food, water, shelter, and clean clothing are necessities. The rest is gravy.

    • boop

      And if I could just add to that list of luxury items: tattoos and piercings are not necessities either.

  • boop

    I find the remark about “bland architecture” to be a hoot. Yes, what is being built now *is* bland but what it’s replacing was just as ugly. I come from a quaint city in the southeastern U.S. with many styles of architecture, mostly from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After living here nearly two decades, I still shake my head at what developers think looks appropriate. They seem to only care about putting up structures as cheaply as possible. How exactly this person can blame this on the Microsoft shuttle, I’m not sure.

  • Mr_Donutsu

    Microsoft employees (and their money) gentrified Capitol Hill fifteen years ago. How old are these protesters such that they have no notion of the history of their own neighborhood?

  • Madvall

    I think the protesters should target city building codes and developers if they dont want ugly sterile development in seattle. Even if connector goes away, that development is still going to happen. Think a bit about this tactic. If connector goes away then it will just be more commuting in separate cars on the highway. People arent going to stop wanting to move to in Capitol hill.

    Tech companies arent pushing out other jobs in the city. I dont know what the protesters do for work, but i would think any small business owner, artist, carpenter, vet, etc. is glad to have a lot of people who have the means and the desire to be their customers. Which professions are being displaced by the presence of tech employees?

    If you want to see what happens in a city that doesnt have paying customers, go visit Detroit or Longmont,co or Philidelphia. Are these the utopian ideal? Theyre really hurting, and the property upkeep isnt so great even though its inexpensive.

    Nobody, not even tech employees want a sterile environment of bland architecture and conspicuous consumption

  • Madvall

    The targetting of msft employees and the connector is a grossly misplaced use of energy, and saying they are the cause of the ruin of cap hill is as ugly and prejudice as targetting a racial group or sexual orientation and saying they are responsible. Tech employees are a hugely diverse group of people, many of who care about the integrity of a neighborhood and having decent housing costs. Think carefully.

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