You might have heard about all the Google bus protestors in the Mission District as techies move in and cause rents to rise. Long-time residents are displaced by landlords who want to evict and sell their buildings to buyers who turn around and rent the same units for market prices. Multi-unit buildings are under rent control, which allows for rents to rise by no more than a small percentage a year, usually under 2%.
On the one hand, the landlord should be able to sell their building and maximize profits if they so choose. On the other hand, how do we take care of the residents, especially older and disabled residents who might not have anywhere to go because market rents are double their existing price? It’s a messy, messy situation that is causing a lot of strife.
I’m a landlord, but I’ve never faced this problem before because I’m just buying property to live in. Only after living in the property for many years (10 years as is the case with my latest rental) will I put the property up for rent because I don’t ever want to sell. I would feel terrible buying in an up-and-coming neighborhood with the idea of booting out long-time tenants for profit. Forget that. There are much more harmonious ways to make money than disrupting other people’s lives.
Here’s a video that is causing a lot of uproar in San Francisco that I’d like for you to watch. This altercation is a prime example of what happens when money, entitlement, and poor etiquette come into play. Notice the racial divide as well. Having tact and better communication skills can go a long way to avoiding conflict.
RESPECT LOCAL RULES
A bunch of techies from DropBox and AirBnB (UVA hat and long dark hair) decided to take over the Mission Playground at the primetime hour of 7pm because they have a permit. My initial thought was, “Are they fucking CRAZY?” I play tennis at Mission Playground once a month and the rule is that everybody gets to play so long as they wait their turn.
For tennis, the rule is 45 minutes of playing time for singles and 1 hour 15 minutes for doubles. If I’m 30 minutes into my match and some guy says I’ve got to get off because they have a permit they’d get laughed at. This is a public park and not a private club. And if they continue to impede our play because they can’t wait 15 minutes, danger will be imminent.
I’m very surprised that a fight didn’t break out on the field. I’ve seen many fights happen on the playground due to poor sportsmanship. Yes, if Parks & Recreation provided a permit these techies technically have the right to the field. But common sense dictates that if the field is packed with tons of people who probably won’t react positively with you booting them off, then you find a more cordial way to approach the situation.
Here’s one approach:
“Hi guys, we have a permit to play from 7pm to 8pm, but we feel bad kicking anybody off the field. Do you think my friends and I can just play a pick up game for 30 minutes? This permit was such a PITA to get and cost $27 bucks. After 30 minutes, we can resume playing king of the field so everybody can play?”
This approach does the following: 1) Highlights the permit holder’s rights, 2) Empathizes about the situation, 3) Compromises by cutting the permit playing time in half, and 4) Acknowledges the rules of the playground so that everybody can play with a short wait time. And if this approach still doesn’t work, offer to buy some of the players some drinks from Cancun Taqueria or El Farolito close by. And if this still doesn’t work, then simply wait your turn.
The playground is all about RESPECT. We respect the rules, and we respect the winners who get to keep on playing if they win. It’s been like this ever since we were kids. There is no way the existing soccer players are going to give way if some techies who they’ve never seen before come in and just say “get off” due to a lousy piece of paper. The large majority of players at Mission Playground are Hispanic. Imagine if you were one of them and saw a group of guys who never come around try to kick you off. How would you react? All the more reason to respect the rules if you are an outsider.
WHO IS AT FAULT?
But can we really blame the techies for being so clueless about public playground rules? If they work at DropBox and AirBnB, it’s likely they went to good schools, many of which are no doubt private with their nice and orderly rules. If you go to Columbia University and then Harvard Law School like one of the main characters in the video, of course you’re not going to be able to relate with the rest of the world who can’t afford $65,000 a year for 7 years! They’ve hung around with the same people their entire lives. Their mistake was bringing their rules to a different setting and expecting other people to follow. It doesn’t works this way.
A lot of people wonder why diversity of all kinds is important in schools and in the work place. This playground example is a perfect example why. If you only speak one language, never see the world, and only hang out with people who look and talk like you, it’s no wonder why there’s so much damn conflict in the world. Respect the local rules.
The good thing about this incident is that at the end, the techies and the locals ended up playing together. And I’m sure if they see each other again, things will be much more harmonious.
Update 4/27/2015: A reader writes in, “I dealt with another entitled guy from DropBox named Jan Senderek. He couldn’t make it to my open house, and asked if I can have a private showing for him instead on another day. I obliged, and drove 40 minutes to the open house and he cancels 15 minutes before the showing. I gave him another chance when he asked for a 7:30pm open house on a Monday the following week. I drove back again to the house and he even confirmed the time an hour earlier. He ended up not showing up, and not even apologizing! He is the rudest person I’ve ever met and it seems obvious techies from DropBox are entitled and selfish. Thanks for letting me vent.”
Angry LLL says
I dealt with another entitled guy from DropBox named Jan Senderek. He couldn’t make it to my open house, and asked if I can have a private showing for him instead on another day. I obliged, and drove 40 minutes to the open house and he cancels 15 minutes before the showing. I gave him another chance when he asked for a 7:30pm open house on a Monday the following week. I drove back again to the house and he even confirmed the time an hour earlier. He ended up not showing up, and not even apologizing! He is the rudest person I’ve ever met and it seems obvious techies from DropBox are entitled and selfish. Thanks for letting me vent.
Tech Overlord says
Funny you should say that because Jan Senderek made a special appointment and flaked on me too! He sold his iOS photo app to Dropbox for stock a year later, but that’s not going well. The reason why he’s renting is b/c he’s not liquid, and we all know that DropBox is a bad investment at $10 billion and will get crushed by Google’s free file sharing service. Then there’s Apple’s file sharing service as well. Jan is an inconsiderate jerk.
It sounds like the San Francisco government is the problem. They issued a permit. Maybe they could raise the taxes a little more and everything will work itself out.
I have a strong opinion on this topic because I was a kid who lived “on the other side of the tracks”. Due to school zoning in the city I lived in, I was required to attend the public school the well to do kids went to in elementary school. I probably got a better education overall as a result – but I got harassed and treated badly far too often by those pampered, entitled children. These were the years 1970 to 1976. I’ve been around a while. I am Caucasian. The poor white neighborhood I grew up in bordered the poor black neighborhood. While I can never truly know what it feels like emotionally to be black in a predominately white community, I can empathize and know extremely well what it feels like to be the poor kid amongst the arrogance of wealth, privilege and entitlement.
I am impressed with these kids in San Francisco for the way they handled the situation without violence. By the time I reached fifth grade, I was fed up with the rich kids mouth running and I discovered the most effective way to end it was with a swift fist into the mouth of the abusers. I do not advocate violence – but if you push the wrong person too far – you might pay a heavy price, up to and including your life.
Too many people in the upper income echelons disrespect the hard working people in the blue collar working class and absolutely do not understand what life for them is like. This is clear reading the replies here as well as my firsthand life’s experiences. I have read many commenters here in this and other threads throw around the term “jealously” when describing the cause of conflict between the “haves” and the “have not’s.” That is seldom the true underlying issue. The real issue is the lack of respect between human beings. When these moneyed interests enter an old neighborhood and begin the gentrification process and heartlessly begin dislocating longtime residents, conflict and resentment is the natural result.
I escaped my childhood poverty by joining the United States Marine Corps, serving from 1982-1986. I traveled the world and learned life, trade and work skills that support me to this day. I witnessed poverty overseas that probably 99% of Americans have no comprehension of. Until you have put your boots on the ground, walked among the poor and smelled the poverty, you cannot fully understand. Sam mentioned how world travel is a very good thing and expands ones understanding – it is true. I will never forget where I came from and I will always empathize with the hard scrabbling working classes of the world. These arrogant men in the video were out of line in the way they acted toward the residents of the neighborhood surrounding the park and apparently are clueless as to how lucky they are to have not been severely beaten down. There are far better ways to handle situations like that. Again, I am very proud of the way the locals took the high road. There is much we all can learn from this discussion.
Financial Samurai says
Thank you John for sharing your story. I’m impressed with how the locals handled the situation too.
It’s all about respect at the end of the day. It is interesting how some cannot see this.
“If you go to Columbia University and then Harvard Law School like one of the main characters in the video, of course you’re not going to be able to relate with the rest of the world who can’t afford $65,000 a year for 7 years!”
Sam, do you really believe this?
Financial Samurai says
What are your thoughts?
I’m trying to find an angle where perhaps we can empathize with the privileged in being so clueless in properly interacting with others who haven’t spent $500,000 of their parent’s money on education.
Sam, I know that the school one goes to doesn’t independently drive their attitude or arrogance. If anything a good education will cause someone to be more open and aware to the differences between people, economies, religions, races, cultures. If you believe that someone who went to Harvard can’t relate to the rest of the world it’s not because they went to Harvard, it’s because they were raised that way. The fact that they went to Harvard or an ivy league school isn’t causing someone to not relate to the world, it’s (at best) an ancillary opportunity from coming from a wealthy family.
I feel like you’re trying to find an conclusion that supports your theory but you don’t have any data or facts to back it up, which is dangerous. That’s how stereotypes get started, e.g. American’s are uncultured because I met one once and he was ignorant to other cultures, or someone who went to a state school can’t be successful.
I appreciate you encouraging the open discussion about it!
And for what it’s worth the guy in the video (at the end with the long hair) who’s acting like a he’s never had to deal with any confrontation or conflict in his life (he’s looks like he’s about to cry) is wearing a UVA hat (not Harvard or an Ivy League school).
“danger will be imminent.”
This is a good example of how sometimes right and wrong are vague concepts, and really don’t matter in that they actually involve subjectivity. What matters is being able to work together with others – and to that end, the techies could have done a better job.
Interesting situation. I am unsure whose side I am on. And I have a very similar incident to share that happened a couple years back. Except the races are switched. Bunch of brown Indian techies and white kids. This happened in a wealthy suburb of silicon valley also in San Francisco bay area. Some of my friends and I decided we should start a cricket league. Since baseball is kind of similar, a base ball field is used to play cricket. We called the city to check if they allowed cricket on base ball field in the park and they said yes. So we asked what do we need to do and they said go to xyz website and book the field for couple of hours for $30. So we booked the field for couple hours on friday evening and went there. There were some white kids playing base ball there. So we waited for a few minutes and then I went and talked to an older kid who seemed in charge. I asked him if they were finished playing and he told me that they just got there. I told them I was sorry and that we had booked the field for the next 2 hours. He was surprised and said he had never heard of field bookings before and that they always played there. I said you can book it on the city website. He said OK and called the other kids and left. I said thanks and that was the end of story. Next week we decided it was not fair to ask kids to leave so we found a different park which was not as crowded. We started practicing there from next week on. After playing for 3 weeks, we decided it was too hard for us to make it every week because of our jobs etc. The league permanently closed door after 3 weeks ;)
The difference being the “white” kids were reasonable while the “not white” kids try to pull some ghetto rules typical of “not white” kids.
Financial Samurai says
Thanks for sharing your example.
Here’s the thing. You showed empathy by saying “I’m sorry……” That’s a great first step in communication. The other thing is, how many people were you kicking off the baseball field? The less people already playing, the easier. If the field was taken by two teams, it would make for a much more delicate situation.
I can’t believe the city is selling permits. I think it is a problem that welcomes confrontation and the results could be disastrous.
With real estate values so high in SF, many people (young, old, poor etc) will be squeezed out. Landlords only play a part in this outcome. The market will squeeze them out. Where do they go? The next step will be legislation that guarantees 10% or so of all properties for lower income tenants. The other tenants subsidize the poorer tenants.
Some of you keep saying race has nothing to do with it and that should be true but it isnt. Money, class and etc., are tied to race in America. Read a book or something, it’s not that hard to understand this. Only people who tend to not get this are people who rarely seek to eduxate themselves on race and class in America, dont jave many if any friends outside of their race and class and yet always have an opinion about it. Ninety percent of the time that person is white and when they arent they usually subcribe to the construction of “whiteness.” Go read about that before getting bothered and labeling me racist because if youre educated on what “whiteness” is then you wont be offended. You might be challenged though.
Assuming the pic next to your post is you, do you have a lot of white, asian, indian, hispanic, european, latin american, or native american friends?
I hear a lot of assumptions and projection about one race in your commentary but not much support that you have facts or experiences to back up your assumptions.
On a different issue, do you think that any talk about race is racist? (i’m not leading this into anything, just genuinely interested.) I wonder if race talk will ever end if we literally don’t stop talking about race.
Enjoy your day.
Are the techies the ones who are clueless about the rules? If the Parks and Rec dept allows people to make reservations, ie through permit, then the techies aren’t clueless about the correct process.
The first to hold blame is Parks and Rec if there isn’t a specific list of rules on a sign at the court, which should (in this case) say a permit holder takes precedence over any waiting for the courts. They’re also responsible for managing the people’s use of the court. It’s bad management to take reservations (issue permits) but not allow the “walk ins/ups” know that there’s a permit holder coming in at 7pm.
I didn’t watch the video (at work, shhh) where did the entitlement or money angle come from, do the AirBnB guys make that part of the talk?
I think the parks and rec group shouldn’t offer permits for tennis court use, it should be first come first served with general acceptance of time limits.
Financial Samurai says
Maybe watch the video to get a more informed opinion?
Ok, good point. I just watched the video.
I LOVE the fact that the 20 year local with the blue zip up appears to be the only person trying to find a solution that will suit everybody, and he does it! AND he’s like the oldest kid among his crew so what a great example for all those kids on how to deal with confrontation.
The dropbox and AirBnB kids are trying to follow the cities rules, which is fair and fine. It’s OK for them to try to do that and paying $27 to reserve the court is not at all some outrageous fee that implies entitlement, wealthy, or elitist access. Further, I don’t hear the techie crew mention their job, income, or anything that implies they feel entitled to the court based on their position in the world. They just want their hour and rather than talking to the daily court users on how it works they went to a website to see how the city defines rules of use – this is fine, not elitist.
What becomes clear here is that some of the Techie kids don’t have much experience dealing with people. The guy in the UVA hat looked like he was about to cry at the end of the video. These techie guys probably ALSO live in the neighborhood they just need to do a better job earning some rapport (which will be followed by understand and respect) with the kids that have been using the court for over a year.
I used to live a few blocks from that court (up until three months ago). It’s tiny. There are courts at a school near Church and 30th St (a ten minute walk from the spot in the video) that are EMPTY all the time…and are surrounded by the homes and apts that more of the tech crowd have moved into.
I agree with you more now that these guys need to understand and respect the rules of the court. The Mission is densely populated and low on parks and rec space, the Techie kids should have anticipated that walking in with a piece of paper wouldn’t get them far. After all, are the tech companies supposed to have the best and brightest?
Perhaps the biggest thing this video proves is that the tech companies aren’t always hiring the best and the brightest.
Perhaps it proves that maybe pedigree or one’s school has an influence on where they get hired (over actual intelligence).
Perhaps this video just proves that the mix of culture and so-called “gentrification” that’s happening in SF right now is something that both sides of the debate can work through, that we CAN live happily together with a little effort to communicate, understand, and respect each other…which is what the local kids demonstrated best in this example.
Financial Samurai says
I’m very glad you watched the video! Thanks for your updated response and seeing the angles and things that are going on.
The guy from UVA did really look like he was going to cry at the end. And it’s b/c he’s never experienced how to interact in this situation, which is the point of why diversity is so important.
The techies might be the best and brightest on resume, but not necessarily on EQ, emotional quotient. A lot of the techies are engineers, who may be more awkward than normal.
What most people don’t realize is that Park & Recs is the most inept department when it comes to informing the community about any changes in the parks. Take the example of Mclaren Park and the fact that they were ready to allow ultimate frissbee players to take over the park without notifying the community that used it the most such as the dog walkers. Fortunately the Mclaren Park community got wind of this just in the nick of time but Park & Rec had already received monies from the ultimate frisbee community who also happen to be rich techies to allow a new ultimate frissbee 18 hole course through the park. It would of ruined McLaren for all. The community fought back and won!! I’m sure Park & Rec was not happy but it is typical Park & Rec behavior to not communicate with community people.
maybe they were not allowed to play so they resorted to getting a paper? Does it justify the situation? It all depends on perspective…..
Financial Samurai says
Maybe! It would be nice to hear their perspective, if any of them wants to write their version, hit me up.