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.”