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Anti-gentrification protesters target corporate shuttles on Capitol Hill

(Image: @maguiresean via Twitter)

(Image: @maguiresean via Twitter)

Seattle Police were monitoring a duo of protesters attempting to block Microsoft corporate shuttles Monday morning on their routes to pick up tech workers living around Capitol Hill.

Police were initially called to the area around Bellevue and Pine around 8:40 AM. One witness posted to Twitter that “two masked protestors at Bellevue and Pine with a banner reading ‘gentrification stops here'” were at the scene.

The small Capitol Hill protest echoes higher profile efforts in San Francisco where the “crunchies vs. crappies” battle over gentrification has stirred debate beyond Silicon Valley and pushed the city to impose fees on the fleets of corporate shuttles that ferry workers around the city, allowing them to forego dependence on standard public transit and adding to tensions in an increasingly expensive place to live.Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 8.47.44 AM

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 8.45.57 AMSeattle — and, especially, Capitol Hill — has seen increasing debate about affordability and rising rents. Thursday night, the City of Seattle is hosting a “Workforce Housing Forum” at City Hall. Monday morning’s incident happened across the street from where the old Marion Apartments were torn down to make way for a six-story apartment building about to open. A block south, the former Pinevue Apartments and Melrose building await the start of a demolition/preservation/development project that will climb to eight stories above E Pine.

The protesters were reportedly handing out these flyers. Thanks to @maguiresean for sharing the images with CHS.BgII__YCYAABrKa


UPDATE: A post to the back-from-the-dead anarchist publication Tides of Flame details the protest:

In total, five buses were blocked for 45 minutes before the authorities arrived, at which point the group dispersed.

What follows below is an explanation of the action.

The Dark Lords of Microsoft

A long time ago, Microsoft was the evil empire, the dark colossus that every free-thinking engineer and programmer gravitated away from.  Their hierarchical and competitive corporate culture was a nightmare to be avoided at all costs.  Apple and Google frantically developed in directions that would take them away from the monopolized markets controlled by the Redmond based corporation.  These competitors succeeded in breaking Microsoft’s grip on the marketplace, only to become precisely what they had been rebelling against.  Google now circles Redmond like a vulture, with offices in Bothell, Kirkland, and Seattle, waiting to devour Microsoft’s corpse should it collapse.

“The situation in Capitol Hill and Ballard, two neighborhoods selected by the city government for high-density housing, is a situation that can inspire depression and dread,” the post’s author writes. “However, we are tired of falling prey to these emotions and instead make the first steps to address this very specific aspect of the Microsoft leviathan.”

Full disclosure: I worked at Microsoft for a decade before leaving in 2006 to pursue community news ventures. I also wore an anarchist symbol t-shirt a few times in middle school :)

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193 thoughts on “Anti-gentrification protesters target corporate shuttles on Capitol Hill

  1. I was on a 43 bus this AM trying to get downtown. The bus driver gave us the choice of waiting for the scene to clear or to walk. Most of us wound up walking.

    • If they can’t block the connector without also blocking the 43, they’ve really screwed up, since they’re impeding the low- and middle-level earners who ride it to Group Health and the UW. But most of us have to catch the bus earlier than 8:40.

      • nobody on the 43 got to decide that. What if there were older/disabled people on that bus that wouldn’t be able to walk downtown as easily?

      • I think that a major part of the protest is that Microsoft is using tax payer public transit pick up location at no cost. Effectively taking revenue from the Metro and at the same time displacing high income employees to there desired locations. The fact is they plan on increasing service with more Microsoft shuttles as more individuals move to this area. Public protest is suppose to create as much of an inconvenience as possible for every one including Metro riders to incite conversation and dialog. That disturbance is what brings attention to issues and why it is called CIVIL disobedience. I’m sure that the stone wall and the civil rights moments were also inconvenience to there social communities. I’m hoping you took civics and remember what that is about.

      • Except they don’t use a public transit pickup location, and they pay for every employee to use public transit. When they take the shuttle instead, there is essentially a free seat that has already been paid for, for someone else to use.

      • They also pay for ALL their workers who want one, for an Orca pass. Tons of MS workers take buses, vanpools, and the streetcar. If you took away all the people who ride transit because of MS, the loss of ridership would be huge. ESPECIALLY on Capitol Hill. This is incredibly ignorant and short-sighted.

      • That isn’t a bus stop anymore Metro closed it a few months ago to consolidate stops and because of it ‘a proximity to the intersection which often caused articulated trolly buses to block the inspection or crosswalk.

  2. At least the SFO guys had a valid complaint – that Google et al. should be paying to use bus stops. These are just people (understandably) upset that Cap Hill isn’t what it used to be, and looking for a target to take it out on.

    Also worth noting that their protest stopped traffic in both directions, including public transport.

    • Again the point of protest and civil disobedience is to create noise thus effecting attention and there for creating dialog. It’s very sad to me that in the 80’s and 90’s republicans led a war and cut civics from standard public education. It was a reaction to the civil rights movement. A watershed and back fire burn to stem the tide of future opposition. A less educated public of there rights would be more complacent to what they are told with proper distractions and attention. Ie media video games, fine restaurants.

      I’m not being a conspiracy theorist it’s just when people leave comments of how protest is inconvenience. They don’t think about the long term implications of there own classicism and privilege. The scariest part of that is with out thinking about it they don’t know there value and will blame others for what is taken from them rather then focusing on what they should be receiving for there potential. Food for thought on how protest leads us to comment and that comment can be the beginning of dialog for teaching moments.

      • “It’s very sad to me that in the 80′s and 90′s republicans led a war and cut civics from standard public education.”

        What in the @#$% are you talking about?!?

      • Christ George Foley, you are just..Wow! Misinformed and scattered. Just stop before you dig yourself a deeper hole to Idiot Nirvana

      • …..except that anti-capitalist actions like this don’t “create dialogue.” All they do is piss people off, and make it a lot less likely anyone will listen to any angry drivel you have to say.

      • This is a complete fallacy, not to mention the fact that you’re literally proving George right in insinuating your inconvenience is somehow of more value than that of a social movement as a whole and what it’s trying to accomplish. That is what it means to be privileged and classist. Gentrification is terrifying. I live in subsidized housing on the hill and if rent costs keep rising as wealthier people move in and developers continue to tear up our neighborhood, the community resource group that owns my building will no longer be able to afford to offer their services. Poor people didn’t choose to be poor. Wage slavery is very real. While I am sympathetic to those innocents who may have been “inconvenienced,” (even though I seriously doubt anyone suffered any real plight– again PRIVILEGE– in light of this event), the movement as a whole is far more significant and it affects all of us who call the hill their home, regardless of their economic status.

      • Look, if you want to start a revolution, you really need to learn how to spell and use proper grammar. Nobody wants to join a cause led by idiots (except for other idiots). I am sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true.

        The protesters in the 60’s, at least the spokespeople, were articulate and well-read. You may have a point, but it is completely undermined by your inability to communicate effectively.

      • Liz, u dun gon done it ur self. If you want to preach, follow some rules about arguments. and leave the Ad hominem out.

        The point is: Microsoft is single handedly changing Seattle. With out asking us the community. It is in their benefit that these shuttle busses and connector systems are allowed to prevail. The use of claims such as; more environmentally friendly, is as put, bullshit. When a shuttle bus is traveling 25 miles with only 2 or 3 passengers, then the effect is nullified and reversed.

        Wake up, figure out the issue at hand, and stay on topic.


      • Mike H, those Connector buses never have 2-3 people on board except at the first and last stop. As multiple people have pointed out, at the stop on 19th Ave the buses are regularly full and people are turned away. Furthermore, are Metro buses held to the same occupancy standards? You can easily find that Metro buses have under 10% occupancy at the start and end of their routes or during non-peak times, but that tells you nothing about the overall ridership level.

      • As others have already pointed out, your argument is specious. The shuttles do not use public transit stops in Seattle as they do in San Francisco. As for your assertion that the shuttles generally contain only 2 or 3 riders, do you have supporting data for this claim? Because many others here, some of whom take these shuttles, state that this simply is not true.

        Yes, Microsoft is changing the neighborhood and so is Amazon, and many of us hate these changes as much as you do. However, you (if you are one of the protesters) have formed a protest based on what basically amounts to a gripe with incorrect facts and what appears to be very little research. If you want to be taken seriously and convince people to join your group, you really need to educate yourself and figure out a way to form an actual valid argument. Otherwise, you come across as the liberal version of a tea party loon.

  3. Rents are rising on Capitol Hill and the solution is to “fight development”? Sorry, no. I respect these two protesters’ right to free speech and I also reject their proposal to dictate where people are allowed to live.

    • The real conversation that should be having is how the city can put together a massive overhaul of there future project developments. Over the last eight years during the great ” recession” the lack of buildings for house was not really noticed. How ever people continued to move into the city. As the foreclosures resold and filled up more people started looking back to condos and townhouses. This in turn caused new developers to go into that market rather then the rental market as the return on investment is faster and at lower interest rates. Big banks are not currently funding large rental spaces do to there desire to keep more short term loans going out with the fed at a lower level. With out a counter incentive from city hall there will be little transition incentives for these contractors.

      What will happen is the same as the 70’s in major cities, you will have affluent flight from outlying areas into the major cities. The cities will not have comprehensive plans for infrastructural renovating. Ie the sewer system power grid / public transportation. Lack of decent living wage housing will be gone from the city. It will cause more homelessness and then higher social services etc. The city should really be looking at it’s long term developmental plan. So where people live is organized and balanced that is what Government is for and is not communism or socialism but federalism which our country is.

      • I think you have that backwards. The vast majority of new development is apartments right now, isn’t it? I thought it was financing for condos that was difficult to come by, due to the increased difficulty in getting a mortgage.

      • Almost every post you’ve made only makes sense from a socialistic view point. You are either very misinformed, or are being disingenuous. Seattle is viewed as a progressive utopia. I wouldn’t think it necessary to be unforthright.

      • “progressive utopia” where gay clubs only get set on fire once in a while in a state voted number one in regressive taxation

      • …”while in a state voted number one in regressive taxation”

        Yes barbecue, massive taxation is a progressive policy. It’s wealth distribution. Neighbors is the other article, please try to stay on topic.

      • @ERF, Regressive taxation like we have in WA is not progressive policy. Our tax structure does a terrible job of distributing wealth fairly since the poor pay a much higher percentage of their income towards taxes. Progressive taxation is progressive policy though :)

  4. Good thing they chiseled their fliers in granite rather than use an insane orgy of technology on its production, and it’s also good they’re doing their stand to reduce carbon emissions by not printing it on paper. Or maybe not. They probably didn’t organize through Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or something too.

    While their heart is in the right place, they do realize that one big difference between the Connector and the Google situation in San Francisco is that Google is using public bus stops, and Microsoft is not, right? And people’s desire to live in hip neighborhoods far exceeds their desire to use the Connector; dispense with that, and they will just be driving to work or taking the bus. Though it’s amusing to think of Microsoft having a particularly hip work force.

    • Well I know that the connector in Pioneer square pics up at the same place as the 16 and several other buses up from 1st and Yale. I’m sure they use public stops in other areas as well. Also I think this is just the way that they can express the frustrations with lack of housing. Regardless of being snarky to them you should think of this as a moment to find a solution it’s only going to get way worse before it gets better. If you think this isn’t about to explode all over the country I think we will have to see. There are all those 99% out there that never felt occupy wall street meet there need….. so we will see

      • The Connector doesn’t stop in Pioneer Square. There is no intersection of 1st and Yale either. Yale is a north-south street, like 1st, but runs just to the east of I-5. Are you thinking of the stop on Capitol Hill near Bellevue Ave & E Pine St? If so, the Connector is supposed to stop in the 30 minute load/unload zone just past the Metro stop. That is the case with most other Connector stops as well.

        Personally, I think it’s pretty pathetic that some workers feel that targeting other workers is the way to effectively protest expensive rent and gentrification. I’m sure the bosses and the developers are laughing all the way to the bank.

  5. Unless they have been living here on the Hill since back when it was called “Catholic Hill”, they themselves are part of the gentrification process. Besides, complaining about “gentrification” of the Hill is asinine for historic reasons. Walk around and look. See all those 100 year old mansions by Volunteer Park? See all those courtyard style apartments built 50 years ago? And go pull the historical records of the original developer advertisements. Capitol Hill was *built* to be to “gentrify” from the very beginning of the origins of the city.


      • And that is a bad thing we have a company paying adequate wages to people? And they offer free shuttle services to reduce the number of cars on the road and help the environment? Sounds pretty evil. Let’s protest.

      • Yep, well we all new the 1% vs the 99% was bs for you folks. Given a little push, suddenly it’s the 20% vs the 80%. What’s next, 50 vs 50?

      • I was agreeing with ERF that it’s a “rich against poor” protest by pointing out that Fred’s “99%” argument was disingenuous.

        I don’t agree with the protesters’ methods, but the Connector is a factor in increasing rents out-pricing many people in many neighborhoods.

      • You know, they are going about this the wrong way. Socialism is all about equality, right? They need to have marches and protests demanding that all employers provide the basic human right of free shuttle bus service to minimum wage, part-time staff!

  6. Yes, people need to understand the basic economics of rent. Rents go up because demand exceeds supply. Either the area needs to get shittier, lowering demand, or you need more supply.

    If Cap Hill clears out 2/3 of the bars and restaurant, or maybe if they let Cal Anderson be an “all crime, all the time” zone, rents will go down.

    • Sorry, in capitol hill the rules of supply in demand no longer apply. Because, uh, you see, I want my property to increase in value and being wealthy makes me virtuous.

  7. This kind of misdirected rage serves only to alienate existing or potential tech industry allies. There are far more deserving corporate entities in the region. Targeting the industry that has repeatedly disrupted traditional corporate media, providing the free products and services that enable social justice organizers to operate, is foolish.

    Use your energy to fight for better wages, progressive taxes and better transit. Fight the finance and real-estate industries. Don’t make an enemy out of 40,000 people who could otherwise be convinced to help you.

  8. So, this is the first stop of the MS connector. the buses are nearly empty sometimes because each seat is reserved in advance. I think there are 3 or more stops that the bus has to make.

    They should go to the last stop and see how full it is.

    • Sounds like hard work. I mean, every day I go past the bus terminal in Sodo and see empty buses driving out. it’s outrageous!

      • Yes, the Connectors are full. Also, contractors cannot ride them but do get free Orca passes, and many ride other transit to MS. Try again, losers. MS is incredibly supportive of KC Metro, Snohomish County Transit, Kitsap Transit, and Pierce Transit.

      • You can ride the ones on campus of course. And you may be getting away with it from home, but the ones from neighborhoods are not supposed to allow contractors. Neither A- nor V-.

    • Why are they using a corporate website like wordpress if they’re so against tech companies? WordPress is owned by Automattic:

      Which owns:
      Plinky VIP
      After the Deadline

      It’s all owned by several 1%ers. There are numerous small, working class web hosts they could have set up with. Why are they supporting one set of wealthy tech barons while opposing others?

  9. There is some sense to this, despite the hippie-ish Joni Mitchell quote and their apparent slowing of regular (for slobs like me) mass transit. The Connector shuttles have made CH a much more desirable neighborhood for well-off Microsofties (the contractors still have to squeeze into the 545, I think). In the pre-Connector days, I’m sure many of them would have opted to live in some condo on the Eastside, just so it would be easier for them to get to work. But if I get squeezed out of Capitol Hill due to exorbitant rents, no one’s going to install a quick shuttle bus for me to get to my job in town.

    • Contractors can ride vanpools free, also paid-for fully by MS. If you create your vanpool well it’s more convenient than the Connector.

    • I work at Microsoft. I moved to Capitol Hill from Bellevue because I choose to not own a car and Bellevue is not very walkable. I also take the 545 rather than the connector. I’m sorry that my choosing to live makes rent go up; I’d like to keep it low, too. If someone were to build a tower like Aspira on Capitol Hill I’m sure a bunch of us would just jam up in there, take a single large connector, and leave everyone else alone – but you’ll have to convince city council to zone it.

  10. This flyer states that MS “draws young employees into its ranks by allowing them to live in hip neighborhoods.”

    I’ve lived on the hill for 15 years. During most of that time, I worked for two different local performing arts non-profits. After years in that world, I recently started working at Microsoft as a writer. I’m happy to report I did not immediately become evil and buy a McCondo, and I still take Metro each morning.

    I wasn’t drawn here to work at Microsoft. I was already here. I’m not the only one.

    To this group:

    Please remember that Microsoft is a huge employer in this area. Many locals–your neighbors–cycle in and out of that company as jobs become available.

    Does this mean I’m no longer a real Capitol Hill resident? Where do you draw the line? Are you coming for me with pitchforks and torches? Because that would be kind of cool.

  11. Surreal. This is silly on so many levels. First, the hill has had East Side tech workers for years (decades?) before the connector, served largely by the awesome ST-545. Second, even if the connector went away tomorrow, we would all just use the 545. Maybe these guys should be protesting in a neighborhood where the connector actually makes more sense than public transit. Third, If you must peg rising rents on an evil corporate overlord, Amazon is probably a better target. Fourth, lose the ‘fight development’ jingle, that is about the best hope anyone has of lowering rents right now. Sorry about the rent increase guys. But this is amazingly misguided.

    • The 545 seems incredibly crowded when I see it on the Bellevue and Olive stop (at 7:20 in the morning). I’m sure there are some MS employees who would be *less* likely to live in the neighborhood if that was their only option.

      But it’s true–the Amazon campus on SLU is really the major specific gentrification threat now, for going against the traditional 90s Office Space model of the suburban corporate park.

      • The only time rent would go down is if a place gets undesirable. So, I guess the goal of the protesters is to make the neighborhood worse!? Nobody seems to notice the flip side of gentrification is Detroit.

      • Most recently in Seattle–back in 2008/2009 when we had a comparatively significant amount of rental stock available vs. demand due to the economic downturn. While the rents didn’t dip dramatically they did go down or remained level vs. typical year over year increases.

      • I’m all for increasing the housing supply…which means much higher densities. However, if you read the protesters’ letter, it clearly states they are not for higher densities. So, they basically want to make the neighborhood more affordable by making the it crappier, not by increasing the supply of housing.

      • So there either needs to be a financial crisis or an area has to suddenly become crime ridden and undesirable for rent to drop, is that it?

        Why do we keep seeing the same argument that more development will result in cheaper rent? I’m sure it will slow the increase, but I keep hearing from the libertarian trickle down crowd that housing is going to get more affordable if we just let development do its thing.

      • You missed the key point in that: supply was greater than demand. While the more dramatic options to cause that are economic collapse and more crime–increased density is the is the tidier that all the new development on the Hill is trying to address/

      • It won’t make housing cheaper. This is just a stupid lie developers tell you because they know how rich they’ll be getting off all the new construction. Not that this is bad thing, but the entire argument that increasing density will lead to lower rents is a joke. It’ll just give us more expensive apartments.

      • Well, maybe, but less supply will definitely make it much, much more expensive. So, I guess you’re arguing for the “make it crappier” option, cap hill?

      • And there are always opportunities to attempt to work with developers for more positive outcomes. The best results recently being the Capitol Hill Housing/Walgreens building on Broadway that was originally just going to be a standard single level + parking lot style Walgreens and the 12th Avenue Arts building currently under construction. Not all development is this good/bad or rich/poor binary.

        I wish there were a magical solution for lower rents. Also I want a pony.

    • Indeed, the hill has had tech workers from both sides of the water as long as there have been tech workers. Tech workers were on the hill before there were hipsters. I’ve lived on the hill well over a decade, and part of that was doing my time at the ‘soft like every tech worker of my age did, though thank the gods not any more.

  12. Gentrification is awful and microsoft certainly has a huge share of the blame. Fucking busses are not part of the blame. As someone extremely earnest about solving gentrification problems, this is hugely saddening since it’s not just ineffective, it’s counterproductive. Policies, and the people who enact them, are why gentrification happens. Not goddamn busses.

    • Speaking as a member of the Suquamish tribe can I ask YOU to leave my neighborhood? You already ‘gentrified’ it enough with your ‘brick’ houses, iron bicycles, electrical goods, ‘horseless carriages’, greasy-spoon diners, hip coffee houses, car repair shops and other accoutrements of the white man’s working class.

    • Gentrification is not a problem! The flip side is an undesirable neighborhood with a crime problem and no decent services or commercial activity. It sucks to have your rent go up, and to have to move to a more affordable neighborhood (of which there are many), but it sucks even worse to have your community turn into something like Detroit. The opposite of gentrification is not a happy place.

      • Because in our country everyone is supposed to have the freedom to try and succeed. Each one of us is presented with opportunities daily that we fail to recognize for one reason or another. Hard work also has a lot to do with success, but it doesn’t guaranty anything. Even successful people fail several times going from rich to poor and back again.

        It is not my responsibility that the homeless are poor, just the same as I have no responsibility with Bill Gates becoming successful with Microsoft.
        If I choose to provide an “opportunity” to someone, that is up to me as an individual not you, and certainly not the government.

      • Thank you, David. It’s hip on Capitol Hill these days to bemoan gentrification, but really it’s a positive thing. If we remained stuck in the past, without any improvements to the neighborhood, the “broken windows theory” would be in full effect, and we would have a downward spiral into a run-down, crime-ridden place. Gentrification is the opposite of that.

        There has been and will continue to be a huge amount of new housing on Capitol Hill (including affordable units)…..I don’t see how this could be any further accelerated. If you can’t afford the rents, then you need to move to somewhere you can afford…that’s the real world. Sorry to break it to you, but you are not entitled to live on Capitol Hill just because you want to.

      • I don’t think our choice is between gentrification and a neighborhood plagued by crime and economic depression. Capitol Hill has been a pleasant neighborhood for a long time with a mix of people of different incomes and businesses of varying affordability. To maintain that you need to plan well. I think that affordable space should be preserved and not left entirely to the market, and I think that plans for increased density need to be expanded to include more neighborhoods. And I’m sure there are other things that can be done, too.

      • David-This is a laughably false dichotomy. There is definitely middle ground between a condo carpeted Seattle and the very unique (and very sad) circumstances of Detroit. Seattle existed in this middle ground for quite some time, actually. Also, please tell me of all of these magical affordable neighborhoods that I should uproot myself and move to, although I have lived and worked in this neighborhood for over 10 years. Lastly, do you really only want to live in a neighborhood solely occupied by people in your tax bracket?

      • David is the kind of person that looks at the wealth gap and chuckles “ah yes, this is a good thing, more of this please”.

        While some people want to increase the quality of living for everyone, he’s only happy if he can be king of shit mountain.

      • Wait, so you’ve only lived here ten years? So you’re part of the problem then?

        Seriously, Capitol is and has been a neighborhood of growth and change for a hundred years. My parents used to live there as kids when it was a family neighborhood. Maybe you live in an apartment that was built on top of one of their childhood homes?

        The neighborhoods outside the core of the city are twice as affordable as your neighborhood. Expecting the neighborhoods closest to downtown to remain unchanged and inexpensive will leave disappointed in the long term.

        History’s already proven that which you’d know if you weren’t one of the recent arrivals who undoubtably ruined the neighborhood for someone else.

  13. Pingback: Anti-gentrification protesters block Microsoft shuttles on Capitol Hill | Q13 FOX News

  14. I have my hummer limo pick me up at my micro-housing studio apartment to take me across the 520 during peak hours and instruct the driver to run it in low gear as to maximize fuel consumption and increase emissions. Po-sho!

    These are people who are being ecological and civic minded who are reducing emissions and traffic on our already overburdened streets. Taking the bus or the connector is additional struggle that most rich folk would chose to do without. These are people who fund the social and charity programs that make sure that affordable housing can continue to be a program in Seattle and who pay the property taxes that make sure that the likes of the notice’s author can have a decent English teacher help them develop the skills to write a diatribe.

    Give me a break.

    • Yes. Speaking as an only moderately-paid contractor at MS who regularly commutes via vanpool with 5 other workers, I can assure you that blocking the Connector will not lower your rents. You’ll just push more people into cars or buses, and your rents will still be high.

  15. Pingback: The Morning News: Activists Target Microsoft Shuttle, Plus Other Stuff | Kinkementary Love |

  16. I ride this shuttle every morning. At different times every day. Every day, it’s completely packed full of people.

    Surely these people understand that Microsoft employees can probably afford the 520 tolls and would simply drive to work if the shuttle didn’t exist? I personally take the 520 and would rather save money, but good lord are these people idiots.

  17. Hmmm – anti gentrification class warfare douchebags versus snarking tech douchebags. It’s nice to see two factions of people who view people like me as the wellspring from which all of the worlds trouble flows feeding on each other.

    Y’all keep it up. Maybe the next big tech firm will be in Spokane where people really need the work. Of course the people who run tech firms will never be “allowed’ to build outside of the un-marked company town structure in America. After all, we don’t want those people out there in Spokane using their higher paychecks to buy guns or actually (gasp horrors!) have home and a family.

    Apologies for those involved in this who are not douchebags. Seriously though, the choice in these matters is to either have a free market or a controlled market. I was raised just outside of New York City and saw what a (rent) controlled market is like where people use the obituaries to find apartments and then rush to make a deal with the family or next of kin to keep the apartment leased to the deceased or “in the family”.

    But as long as people put their politics and personal bias before facts and respect for others, there won’t be any working solutions.

    Good luck.

    • This is the same thing. If you raise rents so that only MS can afford to live there, that will gentrify the neighborhood.

      • The difference is that we are building more units for our ever growing city- unlike SF. They were too concerned about changing the landscape. Now they are stuck between a rock and a hard place and are in a deep crisis with housing shortages. Yes, we are a city, and cities can be an expensive place to live in. Will rents get cheaper? No. Will more and more people be moving to the hill and Seattle in general? Yes. What can we do about it? I say BUILD.

  18. The only reason the Connector “looks empty” on Bellevue Ave is because they only look at the first/last Capitol Hill stop, which is not where most people live. If they actually bothered to, I don’t know, look for actual data, or even walked up to the 15th Ave stop, surprise, the bus is full!

    But sure, let everyone who works at Microsoft and live on Capitol Hill drive every morning. I’m sure that’s going to make everything better. Also let’s “Fight Development” and just live in a neighborhood where all the local businesses close down, public services shut down, and crime goes up. The rent will be much cheaper then.

    Instead of trying to surf on the “buzz” that was caused by the protests in San Francisco without any valid reason, they should take a few minutes to think and research what the situation *actually is* in Seattle, which is *very* different from what’s happening there.

    Anyway, this is just annoying and counterproductive.

    • I agree that looks can be deceiving. All of the talk about Capitol Hill Connector buses being mostly empty is based on observations of buses that are just completing or have not yet completed their routes. At the last stop, on 19th (when the bus is heading East), people are routinely turned away because the bus is full. The same is true on the return trip West: full at 19th (the first stop), mostly empty by the last stop (downtown). So please stop saying that Connector buses are mostly empty. It’s just plain false. The statistics show that those “mostly empty” buses run at 65% capacity when you average across all trip times and during peak commute times, they are most definitely running at full capacity.

  19. Pingback: Seattle Social Media | Activists block Microsoft shuttles in anti-gentrification protest

    • If they were really interested in a career path instead of unfocused bitching, they’d be learning something to get a decent job. Instead of feeling entitled to live in their preferred neighborhood.

  20. Whiny, entitled Seattlites doing what they do best: Making life worse for others.

    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.

  21. There are around 10 connector buses every morning from Capitol Hill. If they carry 35 people in average (oh sorry, they are empty right, maybe avg 10), that makes a total of 350. At least half of these people will drive to work even if there are no connector busses. I drove today because the bus was really late and I’m not moving anywhere even if they cancel shuttles. I’ll just drive. So, a total of 180 people is the main reason of rent increase in one of the largest areas in Seattle! Brilliant.

  22. Why are they using a corporate website like wordpress if they’re so against tech companies? WordPress is owned by Automattic:

    Which owns:
    Plinky VIP
    After the Deadline

    It’s all owned by several 1%ers. There are numerous small, working class web hosts they could have set up with. Why are they supporting one set of wealthy tech barons while opposing others?

    • I’m kind of interested in who these people actually are. I kind of suspect they’re rebellious kids of well to do parents with too much time on their hands.

    • They could have even set up their own server with the Seattle Community Colocation Project, which specializes in providing hosting to activist projects. But this requires two things: money (I think it’s a same assumption they are financed by 1st Bank of Mom & Dad) and skills (and when your rhetoric is “skilled workers get out”, good luck finding anyone willing to work with you)

  23. The market forces that drive cuts to public transit while private buses proliferate are a valid subject of discussion, but unfortunately it wasn’t articulated very well by these protestors. I think they hoped to increase interest in their cause by making a connection between their protest and those that are happening in San Francisco. This tactic won’t necessarily win locals over, though, since many Seattleites, like those commenting here, see the Microsoft shuttles as transit the rest of us don’t have to pay for.

    It’s not increased density that is the problem, it’s the fact that this increased density has been restricted to a handful of areas in the city and has led to extremely rapid rent increases in (places like Capitol Hill and Ballard, as mentioned in their flyer) leaving those who can no longer afford those neighborhoods with no in-city options because all the other neighborhoods are still zoned low-density. As a resident of Capitol Hill for more than twenty years and a person of less-than-Microsoft level means, I know this from personal experience.

    • Don’t forget that MS pays for Orca passes that enable tons of people to beef up the ridership of Metro, making lots of buses more frequent. And if you look at city of Redmond, they’ve practically paid entirely for most of the transit hubs out of their pocket. Rents are astronomical on the Eastside too, by the way.

      • I agree that MS isn’t to blame for the loss of metro funding. The relationship between private benefits and public benefits is much more complex than that. Large businesses create demand for mass transit, even subsidize it in some cases, but also provide private transit that reduces demand for public buses. Affluent tech workers move into the neighborhood and support local businesses, but also drive prices up, forcing funky businesses, artists, and other less affluent people out of the neighborhood. I’ve read Jane Jacobs, and I know that this is the way cities always work. One groovy neighborhood dies, another is born someplace else. I just think Seattle needs to plan better so that we don’t end up driving everyone but the richest farther and farther out of town.

    • Lots of newbies to transit debates here, I guess. Go back 10 years to see how many Microsoft employees advocated for Sound Transit to run the ST545 over Cap Hill instead of I-5 to improve transit for all. Microsoft has been a consistent advocate for transit, and has publicly endorsed efforts to improve funding.

  24. The Connectors have been running through CapHill for more than 6 years and they’re just now the cause of gentrification? Hmmm, makes sense. Couldn’t be the huge hiring push by Amazon over the past 2 years and their new huge buildings that are a 5 minute walk from the hill. Yeah, it’s definitely the Connectors fault.

    I’ve been at MS for awhile now and the Connector has never been a selling point for me working at MS or living in CapHill. Anyone working under the assumption that these shuttles are the only thing that make it feasible to live in CapHill as an MS employee has never played “spot the blue msft badge” at the 545 bellevue/olive stop

  25. The Connector didn’t make Cap Hill more attractive to MS employees, because they were already living on the Hill in vast numbers (thousands) before the Connector arrived. There was a major effort at MS years ago to work with Metro Transit to get a bus to go over Cap Hill and onto 520, so employees didn’t have to transfer to the 43 or some other bus at Montlake. After years of attending meetings, lobbying council members, etc etc etc, the best Metro could do was to have the 545 come up to Bellevue and Olive.

  26. If anything they should be blocking the Amazon Fresh trucks. It’s Amazon that’s primarily driving up prices on Cap Hill, not Microsoft. Oh how I get sick of moronic protestors!

  27. I don’t think MS Connector is the problem…perhaps a traffic solving situation if anything. Though the driver’s could perhaps learn to drive in an appropriate manner. (I don’t know how many times I have almost been hit by one of these idiot drivers…next time I’ll just let em hit me and MS will be all mine!!)
    I think Amazon is the main problem here…they are far out pacing MS in their hiring and being right downtown. Just look at all the new Vulcan apartments that have opened up in the past few months (Martin and Via 6) their lowest rental starts at $1600 and go up from there! With Amazon paying big bucks for the employees greedy landlords knowing the situation, this is making ‘affordable’ housing a thing of the past!
    And gentrifying a neighborhood means more of the corporate stores (Starbucks, Pottery Barn, etc…) not a damn shuttle bus!

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  33. The biggest failure here is the inability to see how all of this is intertwined. Tech companies are competing with each other for a talented and rare workforce. Part of that is to tantalize new hires with “hip neighborhoods” as a reason to choose MicroGoogMazon. So it’s understandable that techies want to live in these hip neighborhoods. However, as demand increases – so does prices and then the cool/edgy/hip part of the neighborhood relocates thus rendering the locale bland/homogenous/chain-store-friendly. And then the cycle repeats. The unfortunate loser in this domino are the poorest families/tenants b/c the uber rich push out the rich who push out the middle class who push out the poor. Actually everyone pushes out the poor. We keep moving towards a society that utopian for very few and dystopian for the vast majority. Yes poor people have existed throughout history and I’d be more ok with there being poor people (and gentrification) if everyone had a more fair shot at moving up the socio-economic ladder (better pre-K for all kids, better local public schools for all, better perceptions on major media, better access to health care, etc). My 2 cents.

  34. I had to drive to work today because of this. Can’t wait until that Black Coffee Co-Op turns into a Jamba Juice and I can thoroughly enjoy a Strawberries Wild (w/ vitamin C boost, need to shore up the immune system). I only hope my presence can somehow speed the transition.

    • Assuming this isn’t a joke, Jamba Juice is essentially candy with some vitamins. A person drinking coffee is likely healthier than a person drinking jamba juice. Just fyi!

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  36. I think this protest was misguided and not well executed. But I hope all of you laughing it up at how silly it is to get upset over high rents and gentrification keep up your high spirits when we are all priced the fuck out of this neighborhood. In 2005, I moved to Seattle and rented a nice studio on the hill for $500.00. Less than 10 years later, I now rent an okay studio for $925.00. And that is pretty much the best deal in the neighborhood, only because I have been in here several years now. That is not a normal rent increase in the course of a less than decade. And there is no end in sight, partially because of the high demand from these tech types, who can afford to drop several grand on rent. Now, I am not a policy writer and I know they say there are problems with rent control but something needs to happen. If you look at cities like NYC and SF, you will see there is no ceiling to how high rents can go (the humble Hell’s Kitchen apartment I grew up in with my lower middle class parents would likely rent for over $3000.00/month now). I never thought a smaller city like Seattle could have so much draw, but with these tech jobs, it is certainly getting there.

    Part of the reason why neighborhoods like Capitol Hill are great is because there is (was?) economic diversity. When only the wealthy can afford to live in a place, it loses a lot of what makes it special (see the entirety of Manhattan). We act like this cycle of people being priced out is inevitable, a fact of nature. But that isn’t true, not if enough people care enough to do something. It wouldn’t kill you to stop being snarky for 5 fucking seconds, Seattle. As this pattern continues, it will impact almost all of us, and not in a positive way.

    • Newsflash: Cities grow. Nice neighborhoods become more attractive. Demand outgrows supply. Prices rise. Show me one growing city that hasn’t followed this pattern in the past.

      What is your solution to this? Rent control? See how well that worked out for New York and San Francisco. Or are only people you choose allowed to live in Capitol Hill?

      • Abby-That’s funny, it sounds to me like only the people *you* choose are allowed to live on Capitol Hill. I said nothing of the sort. I am fine with wealthy people living here, but there needs to be room for middle class and poor people to. Like I said, I don’t write policies, but just because we haven’t seen a city solve this problem doesn’t mean it cannot be solved. I think the reason we haven’t seen it effectively addressed is because businesses and developers don’t care about what is fair if no one holds them accountable. I would like to see a reasonable percentage of apartments in new buildings subsidized for middle and low income people. That already happens on a small scale in some buildings, but not enough to make much of a dent. I also am for more microhousing. I am sure there are many solutions I haven’t thought of.

        Also, while rent control has it’s problems, it is not all bad. It is the only way many of my friends and family members have been able to stay in NYC, where they have lived for generations and have deep ties to their community. My father is a low income senior, who was able to have his rent frozen through a city program, and therefore has been able to stay in his apartment in Brooklyn (in the area he and his parents grew up in). I guess by your logic he should have just had to move because “cities grow.” Sorry dad, cities grow. Prices rise, you know? I guess you should just move. Or maybe die. If I were you, I would try to have some compassion. You might be on the other end of this one day.

      • The ironic thing is that cities appear to be growing into the suburbs. It’s not even interesting to go to many parts of New York or Boston or Seattle anymore because you can’t differentiate these places from each other. I was shocked to return to Cambridge, MA after being away for ten years only to find its boutiques and vintage stores replaced by Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel.

        The draw of a city used to be its arts and culture. That has been replaced by the draw of convenience. But that’s what people like Abby want.

      • Rachel, and others, you seem to ignore the fact that there is a lot of housing for poor people on Capitol Hill….3 enormous SHA buildings, and 2 Senior Housing buildings, Section 8 units in privately-owned buildings, etc. Yes, there are waiting lists for this kind of housing, but if you are poor and really want to live on Capitol Hill then get on a list and eventually you will have very cheap housing. Don’t expect it to be handed to you on a plate.

        There are many “affordable” units available for more middle-class folks…..such as the many buildings owned by Capitol Hill Housing and also microhousing…and more to come, such as at the development over the light rail station.

        I think Capitol Hill is more than doing its part to provide housing for low and middle income people.

      • Actually, while many cities have encountered this problem, many cities have also solved this problem or at the very least not let it spiral out of control. San Francisco rivals Manhattan in rent prices… but Manhattan is an island, has far more people, and less land area. Seattle could easily go the same way, living accommodations for the few privileged only.

  37. The problems that public transit has in Seattle is because every measure to fund public transport fails. Expanding the monorail failed after multiple public votes and it failed the last round. If you want better public transportation, then vote for it and yes you will need to pay taxes to pay for it.

    If we had better public transport then more outlying areas will become more attractive and that is one way to lessen the demand for close to downtown neighborhoods. Cause and effect.

    • You are overgeneralizing. It’s true that King county voter rejected some of the larger, more comprehensive transit packages because of the sticker shock, but voters just approved extending the trolley system from First Hill/Broadway on up to Aloha in November, and they have slowly but surely approved leg after leg of the light rail / trolley system over that past 10 years. For those who own cars, we are also paying subsidies metro on our car tabs each year.

  38. Thank dummies for making me late to school, thus missing a mid-term exam. Unless I can get the city to “write me a note”, I’ve lost 10% of my class grade. Go to college, get a better job… and if you can’t handle Cap Hills expanding restaurant, bar and apartment scene, move to the CD. You look like fools. I’m excited to see how your movement is going in a month.

    • I take it you live in a house rather than an apartment. There are very few apartments in the CD. It’s almost all houses. So if you can’t afford an apartment on Capitol Hill, you can’t afford to move to the CD. Also the bar and restaurant scene isn’t expanding much no Capitol Hill. There aren’t tons more restaurants or bars. There are just more expensive restaurants and bars.

      • I live in an 1 bedroom apartment that costs $940/mo and I’m not complaining. I go to school full time and work part time as a professional nanny so I can easily afford it. I chose to become skilled in an occupation so I am well paid and feel that because of that I empathize with those yuppies on cap hill who can also afford to live here. I wouldn’t live anywhere else for as long as I can afford it. Once it’s too high for me, I’ll leave. But, coincidentally I have accepted a job at Google in SF after I graduate so I’ll just be one of those yuppies who worked their ass of in order to have a good life where I can choose to live where I want.

      • So you and I are not so different. I actually can afford the neighborhood, too. I came here as an entry-level worker 25 years ago and have moved all around the neighborhood as rising rents forced me out, or my income improved, or whatever. Now I’ve established myself as a translator, which gives me a modest income which wouldn’t be enough to afford this neighborhood – once so famous for its artists – if we hadn’t bought a condo before the costs went up so high. But just because I’ve got a place I can afford doesn’t mean I don’t care what happens to the neighborhood. I find the loss of funky old affordable apartments, bars and restaurants really depressing. I’m fine with chain stores and 12 dollar cocktails, as long as there are other options, too.

    • I am sorry to hear about you missing school. I imagine that most professors would grant some kind of make up, given the circumstances, which were out of your hands. I do think this was a poorly planned protest. But I don’t think the motivation behind it was stupid. Tell me, where should we all move when the CD gets hip and we get priced out of there? And after that? And after that? This is a real problem. I would hope that you wouldn’t trivialize it because a few people engaged in a poorly planned protest. Also, this is not a movement. Oh how I wish this city could sustain any kind of movement, but it can’t seem to.

      • As a city grows and gentrification happens, it expands and those who are poorer are forced to move. It’s a fact of life and I don’t find it wrong. We could all be spending our time protesting for better working wages and health insurance, that would be a better use of our time. Protesting the issue du jour isn’t productive. A city isn’t built for one social class.

  39. Conversations about class are too rare, especially in mainstream media, but also offline, face-to-face, among each other. My perception of this thread is that this protest was genius because it was a catalyst to conversation. But regarding that conversation, I think many people have these instant responses to situations like this that come off as scripted. I don’t hear many people here or offline taking a moment to reflect, look at history, consider other opinions and possibly change their own opinions. Instead people do their part, adding their two cents, not allowing any new ideas to permeate.

    For this reason, I’m resisting adding my detailed thoughts on gentrification, Microsoft, etc. I think we all need a dialogue and not just about our own self-interests.

    Okay, I can’t totally resist. I will say that one’s own economic situation does seem to have an impact upon how one sees a protest such as this. And that economic situations of individuals are not always stable. I’m not an in-demand tech worker so all of this is leaving me behind. I live on Capitol Hill because it’s centrally located, less homophobic, and more walkable (grocery, gym) for someone like me who hasn’t driven since the first George Bush was President. But regardless of what is happening in the neighborhood, it’s ultimately about the people, and for me that energy has changed dramatically in the 20 years I’ve been here. But guess what? I don’t know what it was like before I got here either. It’s not all about my perceptions.

    And it’s all relative. Rents were way cheaper years ago but I still couldn’t afford even a studio on Capitol Hill when they were $400.

    Think about class. Think about these issues. More. All of us. Develop your opinions. And be prepared to change them and have your opinions challenged. I’m not a developer. I’m a guy who may get priced out. So be it. There are things I can’t control. But I can be part of the conversation. With an open mind. Thank you to the protestors.

    • I have to agree that this protest has certainly sparked dialogue, at least in this little window of the net. And I agree that we should try to consider everyone’s point of view in discussing what we want our neighborhood to be.

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  41. i am practicing compassion for the protestors. i disagree wholeheartedly with their mission of stopping gentrification and their strategy of targeting a microsoft bus.

    from what i understand, for every job microsoft creates here, there are multiple more that are created in our local economy that support microsoft.

    for example, there are thousands of other companies in this area that do things like
    -ship microsoft marketing materials to conferences (like the halo statue to game conferences)
    -event planning companies that plan corporate events for microsoft
    -companies that do marketing strategizing for microsoft
    -food catering companies
    -cleaning companies

    microsoft also matches charitable donations by its employees. the founders, employees and company contribute to arts in the area. they are huge supporters of our public transit system and indeed help fund it.

    microsoft is one of the largest engineering companies in the world and yes, it is going to attract high-tech, well-paid employees. and those employees are diverse and choose to live in different areas. additionally, amazon is expanding its workforce as well.

    these are positive developments as it bring the region more jobs and resources. the alternatives are places like detroit where industry has been left behind.

    may i impart to you, dear protestors, a single buddhist principles
    -impermanence is the nature of reality – gentrification is going to happen, and the opposite too

    from my perspective, i believe that what you have done is harmed someone else’s condition in an attempt to improve your own. and worse, you’ve targeted the people with whom you share the most in common.

    you have every right to protest to improve your conditions. but keep in mind that you will need the support of a broad community for change. your approach risks alienating those that would support you.

    for example, me. if you could convince me (using facts and figures) that we need rent control, higher minimum wages, etc., i’ll gladly vote on an initiative or even march with you.

    but as it stands, my perception is that you’re an unorganized group of frustrated people that have picked at a symptom (gentrification) and not the cause (wealth distribution).

    did you know that our economic slowdown of the past few years shut down critical social services since our taxes are based upon sales tax vs. an income tax? we all know it’s regressive, but we also collect fewer taxes when times are bad since people spend less as a percent of their income.

    i know i’ve bounced around from point to point, but i feel your actions will have the opposite impact of what you intend. and i think gentrification isn’t the right target. and the people that suffered as a result of your protest are not the people who are in any position to improve your conditions.

    • Microsoft makes charitable donations but keep in mind it’s insanely profitable. It’s actually more profitable magin wise than Google and Apple. All of the big tech companies *literally don’t know what to do with all their goddamn money*. Every time you see them making some ludicrous buyout of some other company, that’s chump change to them.Think Walmart is ripping off its employees? It makes a 3.7% margin. Microsoft makes almost 30%. That’s scrooge mcduck levels of cash privately owned. Money made possible due to incredible public funding that most taxpayers never see back. But we have to thank our corporate overlords for their table scraps, without whom we’d most certainly be eating stone soup. But how did they get so successful again?

      • you’re right – MS margins are big.

        i think your comparison to walmart is interesting because as far as I know, walmart really is the evil overloards even with small margins. they drive local mom and pop shops out of business, whereas microsoft seems to create an ecosystem – in this region and others where they employ people around the world – where mom and pop shops thrive based upon the economic boom they bring.

        you’re also right that they have a lot of money in the bank. apple too. i don’t know about google but i wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right about them too.

        but can we frame this as – is MS overall a positive or negative influence on the region? are they creating jobs and increasing the overall prosperity of the area? do they contribute to the local economy?

        my answer: yes, they are overall a positive influence. overwhelmingly so. (i do not work there)

        BUT, there are side-effects. surely. neighborhoods change, it’s true. i liked an earlier commenter who said he was a member of a native american tribe who said we were all part of the gentrification. puts it into perspective. things are always changing.

        “profit” isn’t a bad word. even in seattle MS only employs 40k employees, where do the other 500k work? small business. my point being that profit brings good things to the region like commerce, trade and economy and the small businesses, which employ most people in the region, benefit from having a large business like MS to bring in money. it feeds our families. it’s overall a good thing.

        if the biggest complaint is that a few block radius gets some big apartments, i think it’s a fair tradeoff.

        but again, wealth distribution at a policy level – locally and nationally – needs fixing. our social programs need funding.

        if you want our social programs funded, then you better agree the MS should be here. the sales taxes on the dollars that MS employees spend fund our social programs.

        so thank you, MS employees, for being a part of our local economy and with your higher-than-average salaries and spend rate, funding our social programs due to our regressive tax system.

      • Microsoft matches dollar to dollar whatever an employee donates to charity. So there’s that.

        Second point. They have high margins because their labor force is skilled. Is the copy of Window’s you downloaded illegal? Really. Microsoft employs people with MBA’s, Master’s in UX design, and the thousands of people with BA’s in Comp Sci. That’s where their high margins come from. My boyfriend has an MBA from one of the best business schools in the US (and likely the globe) and he has 70k in debt from both undergrad and grad school. To tell me he doesn’t deserve a 100k+ wage for his role at Microsoft is obscene. Not only must he pay his bills but he must also earn what’s adequate for the time and effort of the 6 years he spent studying and working his ass off. He’s not a yuppie. He had a goal and he achieved it. It was never to have money but to do what he loved. Unfortunately there is a way in which we all must go about doing what we love and some occupations are more lucrative that others.

        That’s why there’s a high margin. It’s not like Microsoft is trying to screw over the entire world. At least, unlike Walmart, they treat their employees decently and provide them with insurance and, for god sake, transportation to their jobs an hour away.

      • bbq, MS and the Gates Foundation contributed more to our region and the world far more than your wet dreams. Google it (haha). They’re not perfect but neither are you. What have you done to improve the situation besides waiting for MS and Walmart to owe you table scraps? Are you jealous that the corporations you despise already did more good than you?

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  46. I agree that stopping the shuttles would do very little to solve the housing problem in Seattle. And I certainly don’t think restricting development will help at all. That would just make it even harder to find a place to live. Like several commenters on this slog post, I think one answer is to increase housing density in more areas of the city by rezoning. One of them left a link to this map showing the vast swathes of Seattle (in beige) where it’s illegal to build an apartment house. That may have worked ten years ago, but it needs to change now.…/web_informational/dpdd016652.pdf

  47. These protestors are making things worse by not addressing rent issues, or whatever other real issue folks might have on Cap Hill. Instead they ignorantly make false claims, that are easily checked. In fact, MS pays for each person that they transport, they issue orca cards to their employees and don’t block metro, but use 3min load areas. They even have the picture of the MS bus parked in the 3 min area in front of my building :)

  48. A recent report tracked the intersection between the location of tech commuter shuttle stops and gentrification –

    The conclusions should give the rah-rah boosters of tech pause – the siting of these commuter stops does appear to lead to increased upward pressure on rents in the areas the stops are located – contributing to pushing out lower income people in favor of yuppies (a UC-Berkeley study found that the average tech commuter bus passenger is a single 30 year old male earning over $100,000 a year). Neighborhoods like Capitol Hill ARE at risk of becoming playgrounds for only the affluent – and questioning what that means for social equity and social justice IS a legitimate question. I don’t care about the relatively modest amounts out of its marketing budget that MS piddles out to area charities, if in the same breath their highly compensated employees are turning my neighborhood into a yuppie’s playpen.

    I’d say these two protestors HAVE accomplished something – they’ve certainly sparked a lot of discussion already on the gentrification pressures that neighborhoods like Capitol Hill are facing – their PR stunt has received 166 comments and rising on just this blog – where the average article on a Capitol Hill social issue is lucky to attract a couple of comments.

    • Yes, they accomplished in solidifying the resolve of those who think that gentrification isn’t something to worry about by playing to a preconceived stereotype. This is a problem because gentrification is an important issue, and now there’s increased ammo for those who’d like to dismiss it out-of-hand. As one commenter said above, this isn’t a dialogue, it’s just a bunch of people spouting off. There’s no exchange of solutions–just people each other “how it is.” And that’s unfortunate and a missed opportunity.

      • JRT, if you’re being honest with your statement, you’re mistaken. There are some of us that know some history of the subject that goes back about 80 years. While I myself am not that old, I understand it’s origin and what it has turned into. Depressingly, I don’t think writing a 2500+ word historical essay would help since so many people now think “gentrification” itself is the actual argument. Too many generations have been raised under the current system without knowing it was any other way in the past. Solutions? Other than continuing to retrofit new policies on something that never worked in the first place, I really don’t see the argument ending to anyone’s satisfaction.

      • My main point was that this hasn’t actually created a productive dialogue; it’s simply caused a bunch of people to shout at each other on the internet. There’s been no actual exchange of ideas.

        But to your other point – as I understood it, if you cut away all of the moralizing, the real argument / issue here is whether rising costs result in mass displacement of longtime residents, and whether there are steps we can take to alleviate that in some way, particularly as applied to poor or historically marginalized communities. If that’s not the real argument here, than I must have missed the point of the protest entirely.

      • You’re actually making my point. The “poor or historically marginalized communities” were how they sold support for the original “housing” bills.

        It was really all about keeping a particular voting block in place, or attracting a particular voting block to move in, as well as keeping school enrolments high. It was about control and money.

        But as I said, it’s kind of pointless to talk about history. We’re far to many generations into thing to reverse course. All the people and organizations that dealt with these issues are gone and laws were created so individuals could never compete in the future.

        So no, you’re not completely wrong. The protesters and their organizers are protesting people with more money moving in so that poor people have to move out because housing costs go up. Same protest as the early 1940’s. Same as the 1980’s.

    • “I don’t care about the relatively modest amounts out of its marketing budget that MS piddles out to area charities, if in the same breath their highly compensated employees are turning my neighborhood into a yuppie’s playpen.”

      respectfully, this is not your neighborhood. nobody owns it. it just “is”. and it, like everything else in the world, is changing.

      during some part of your life and the neighborhoods life it may meet your needs for culture. the neighborhood will continue to change and so will your needs.

      when humans become attached to a specific model that meets their needs, whenever that model changes it causes pain. but you cannot stop evolution, duder, and so it seems you’ll be in pain at any time the neighborhood changes.

      the culture that you like will move. it won’t die. it’ll move to the CD. maybe georgetown.

      rent control and subsidized housing will have an impact, but it won’t stop the cultural change.

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  51. No more Connector means packed buses and more cars on the road, which would lead to the overdevelopment of buslines near MS employee-heavy neighborhoods to pick up the slack, which does not equal more/better bus service to everywhere else or for the rest of us. The pie wouldn’t get any bigger, but our pooled resources would go to getting these employees to work one way or another. (Though if they increased capacity on I-5 as a result, I wouldn’t complain too much…)

    And then after a few years or decades of that, I hope MS doesn’t fold, or we’ll all be left with a really frustrating(-er) transit system.

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  54. This is first shuttle stop, of course the bus will be almost empty)
    And why I don’t see any riots blocking highways if you are so concerned about environment? Carpool lanes are empty and there’s still traffic jam, because people are driving alone. Double standard it is.

  55. I blame Amazon for the gentrification. Microsoft’s an easy target with the connector buses. But Amazon’s close, been expanding and hiring like crazy and data shows that many of its workers are renting instead of buying. Blaming MS is just wrong. I know from having lived on the hill 20+ yrs and know people who work at MS.

  56. Pingback: Shuttle bus protest hits Microsoft in Seattle - Talk Tech

  57. Pingback: The Anarchists Who Protested Kevin Rose Sound Surprisingly Logical « Secured Archives Secured Archives

  58. Pingback: 7 Cities Expose What Gentrification Is Doing | PopularResistance.Org