Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The shame of Silicon Valley: Unsightly RV camp that has sprung up outside Google's HQ is threatened with closure by irate neighbors who blame the tech giant for forcing people into mobile homes because Bay Area rent is too high

Residents of the expensive California neighborhood where Google has its global headquarters have voted to ban trailers from parking overnight on public streets after a camp of permanent residences has built up due to soaring housing costs.
The decision to get rid of the unsightly RVs came in a March city council vote after complaints of sewage spilling from the mobile homes and into the roads around the Googleplex campus.
Many in the meeting blamed the Google effect for forcing long-term residents out of their homes and in turn creating the housing crisis that has seen some get in trouble for discharging 'domestic sewage on the public right of way'.
But some making a home in the trailers – often with power generators attached to the back and blacked out dusty windows - are also contractors for the company who can't afford the high living costs.
Residents of the expensive California neighborhood where Google has its global headquarters have voted to ban trailers from parking overnight on public streets
Residents of the expensive California neighborhood where Google has its global headquarters have voted to ban trailers from parking overnight on public streets

Bloomberg reported an angry Mountain View Police Department Sergeant Wahed Magee warning a young couple he would not tow their home immediately 'but tomorrow if I come out here and it's like this, it's getting towed'.
But this month the ban is still not in place. A May 13 picture shows a tire lock, used to prevent towing, on a vehicle parked on Landings Drive in Mountain View. While Mountain View is the epicenter of a Silicon Valley tech boom minting millionaires, it's also fueling a homelessness crisis that the United Nations recently referred to as a human rights violation.
With many tech giants calling the Bay Area home, thousands of people live in RVs across Greater San Francisco because they can't afford to rent or buy homes.
'In my neighborhood there are a group of five or six duplexes and a couple that I know lived in one of them for 22 years. When Google moved in next door, their landlord raised the rent by $700 a month,' resident Susan Barkin told Bloomberg. 'Preventing parking and throwing more people out of our community is unconscionable. I do not want to live in a town where the only people who can afford to be here are very, very, rich techies or very, very, old retirees like myself.'

Google has 3.5million square feet of office space in Mount View according to a 2012 end-of-year report.
Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. are located at the Googleplex on 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway and there's another large campus in Mountain View dubbed 'The Quad' at 399 N Whisman Road about 3 miles away.
The average monthly rent in Mountain View is triple the national average according to Trulia and has almost doubled since late 2010 to $4,151 a month. Home value has gone up $750,000 to $1.8 million in the past ten years ago, according to Zillow.
'We have rising rents. We have gentrification. We have people being displaced,' said Jennifer Loving, head of Destination: Home said gentrification and rising rent 'together is creating an untenable situation for thousands and thousands of families and individuals who are trying to live and work' in Santa Clara County.
The company has received $1million of $14million from Google to go towards affordable housing projects, which are seen as another unsightly risk according to some residents.
Bloomberg reported that Google employees whose salaries are much lower than top executives are living in the trailers in secret but can be spotted where Google's campus bikes are parked nearby the RV.

An anonymous security explained why she opted to pay $800 per month for the RV instead of at least $2,500 for an apartment.
'The money I make here is great, but I would be pretty much spending the majority of that on rent and I just don't want to do that,' she said.
By contrast a 41-year-old IT professional working as a Lyft driver has a combined income of $100,000 with his wife who works for a drug company but they opted for the mobile home in order to save for retirement.
Some people aware of the RV ban are ignoring the reality of having to move until the time comes.
But not all residents were keen for the trailers to go for fear of necessary community workers  - such as teachers -leaving for cheaper locations.
Even Google CEO Sundar Pichai in February said he plans to inject $13billion into offices outside of the Bay area, referring to the housing issue and cheaper labor.
'To have a regular functioning town you need to have occupational diversity,' Alison Hicks, who voted against the ban in the meeting said. 'You can't have a town that functions if we only have tech workers living in it … It won't be a functioning city as I know it. It wouldn't be a city I would want to live in.'

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