February 18, 2014

Google Is NOT Moving Into The Mission, At Least Not Yet

While the Financial Times has reported that Google is taking over the industrial space at 16th and Alabama in the Mission, a story which has been picked-up and republished by numerous other publications including ourselves, we have just confirmed that Google has not signed a lease nor purchased the building.

In fact, the building at 298 Alabama is currently undergoing renovations with plans to subdivide the space for multiple tenants. And while numerous parties have expressed interest, not a single lease has been signed nor negotiated, not by Google nor by any of their acquisitions.

First Published: February 18, 2014 10:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Given the massive animosity (or even hatred) from non-tech long-time SF residents, having an office in the Mission would be a truly awful idea for Google. It would need to be well guarded 24/7 and still there would be regular vandalism/ hostilities and protests.

Far better to have offices as part of a nondescript tower in SOMA for example.

Posted by: anon at February 18, 2014 12:43 PM

It's amazing to see how short-sighted are these protesters. SF was built on ruthless gold diggers (the literal kind), then the financial industry, the military, etc...

Tech is making the world flat and more equal. Dictators hate Twitter, Facebook or Google. China had to come up with their own versions of Google, Facebook, Amazon). Iran has recreated some of the web in-house because of the threat they posed to their status-quo.

Tech allows for someone at the end of the world to offer his services (coding, translation, whatever) to another part of the world.

If anything, Tech created what the most progressive in SF needed for their utopia to become reality. Now even with these new wonderful tools they still can't really sell it, which tells more about the idea than the tool themselves.

Posted by: lol at February 18, 2014 12:59 PM

Our city has a class of full-time,'professional' activists who put up a placard about a Google bus -- and have now managed to garner national media attention. And has everyone at City Hall scurrying around declaring quick-fix policies about housing pricing. As if.

Posted by: Invented at February 18, 2014 1:04 PM

Anytime I see a fruit-and-nut spilling nonsense during an activist action, I can't but think this is enabled by rent control. If you pay only $700 / month in SF in rent, even a small part time job will allow you to stay in SF.

I find it deeply unjust to newcomers who have to study and work hard. Not that I am complaining, my places are paid for now. But I feel bad to the new kids who have to suffer for the mass of lazies who don't want any change.

But the day rent control is repealed, watch and enjoy the fruits-and-nuts and tin-foil-hat types run around looking for cover.

Posted by: lol at February 18, 2014 1:22 PM

@lol - I don't appreciate the language in your comment. You do understand the derivation of "fruit" in that context, do you not?

Posted by: BernalDweller at February 18, 2014 1:30 PM

Nice comments. I feel like I'm in good company, well except for what anon said.

The "professional activists" are alive and well here. For some that's their full time job, living in their little rent controlled political den.

Cheers for Google, cheers for tech. Keep it happening.

Posted by: Futurist at February 18, 2014 1:31 PM

@ Lol. Do you honestly believe Rent Control will be repealed? I doubt it.

Posted by: repeal day at February 18, 2014 1:32 PM

Not sure if the sale by the family that owned this property has even closed. My understanding was that there was a long escrow and that the buyer was allowed to improve the building prior to close. Maybe buyer got google to pay a nice assignment fee.

Posted by: formerly%whatever at February 18, 2014 1:33 PM

I heard a piece on "Flashpoints" on KPFA a week or two ago an activist by the name of Roberto Hernandez was speaking about gentrification and all the evil tech workers destroying the Mission. He basically said that all tech workers are souless, midless drones staring at their iPhones with absolutely no culture and their destroying the Mission.

Reading up on the guy I see he's a long time Mission resident and been very active including some great campaigns to reduce gang so I understand he's very passionate about the area. But he does no good demonizing hard working people who are fortunate enough to have jobs that pay them well. And I'm sure there are many of those tech workers that were either raised in low income households or are maybe just one generation from low income living standards and are now able to afford more options. Why that makes them the enemy I don't know.

Having said that I don't think the answer is to ignore what is happening in terms of displacement and evictions and lack of affordable housing in the City. But making perfectly fine people the enemy and blocking busses is not the way to bring positive change. But it makes for headlines and gets them on the air so perhaps it's just a tactic to raise awareness.

Posted by: Boo at February 18, 2014 1:54 PM

@repealday I know we've been waiting a long time, but someday the next "big one" will come and the ill maintained rent controlled units will likely collapse. Presumably what will replace them will be built-after-1970 units which will not be subject to rent control.

Posted by: RobBob at February 18, 2014 1:57 PM

BernalDweller,

lol

repeal day,

It will be repealed one day. Maybe not this decade, but the next one most certainly.

As an example of another attempt at controlling rent, France had a law (called "the 1948 law") that fixed rent to the amount that a tenant was paying in 1948 plus a token annual increase. Just like SF rent control, tenants who entered prior to the cut-off date were protected by this law.

The VERY SAME things happened in France than in SF.
1-Inflation made the 1948 rents ridiculously cheap.
2-Artificial scarcity caused by this law made rents much more expensive for everyone else
3-A generational gap opened between the masses of baby boomers in the 60s and 70s vs the old timers who were hogging their large places for cheap. I personally recall my parents whining about the old coots and their huge apartments in Paris vs the overpriced closets we had to content with.
4-speculation to "correct" the anomalies forced the government to enact more and more tenant protection for this specific pool of tenant.
5-a whole cottage industry of lawyers and realtors popped up to extract the hidden value of long term leases.

By the 60s everyone understood this was an idiotic situation, but the pool of tenants who benefited was too big to ignore by politicians.

40 years later a law was enacted to repeal this situation, keeping only the last few original tenants under this system. France now has limited rent control, and the landlord has regained enough power for the market to be rather balanced, imho.

France being quite socialistic, and 1986 being right in the middle of the Mitterrand reign, this proves that a progressive government can also be realistic when the situation becomes too ridiculous.

Posted by: lol at February 18, 2014 2:13 PM

I noticed that SEIU was involved in the Google bus protest a few weeks ago. I wonder if SEIU sees an opportunity to unionize the tech workers. I don't see a reason for a union to protest otherwise.

Posted by: SF Citizen at February 18, 2014 3:34 PM

Let's not blow up the voice of some protesters to "massive animosity". Most people do not support their action to harass commuters. I am all for more conversations among different people from sectors. But the adversarial position the protester are taking are helping no one. Let's no give them credit they do not deserve.

Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at February 18, 2014 4:56 PM

The building is zoned PDR- Production-Distribution-Repair. It can not be converted to office use.

Posted by: SunnyButter at February 19, 2014 1:00 AM

Tech is making the world flat and more equal.

Actually, it's not, unless by equal you mean poor.

I work in tech and think the anti-bus protests are ridiculous, BUT, tech is pretty much wiping out lots and lots of middle class jobs and will continue to do so. It's not clear that all the jobs being lost will ever be replaced. Of course, if you have the right kind of job you'll do fine. But if you don't, you're screwed.

For example, tech has wiped countless bookstores and allowed Walmart to wipe out many, many local businesses.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but tech is definitely not giving rise to a utopia.

Posted by: Sam at February 19, 2014 8:15 AM

^Um, Sam. The "world" is made up of more than middle class Americans. Tech has ABSOLUTELY helped make the WORLD more flat and equal. The number of folks brought out of desperate poverty in Asia (now sweeping Africa as well) in large or whole part due to new technologies that allow easy communication and/or just-in-time deliveries dwarfs the few million Americans who have seen real living standards decrease by a couple percentage points.

Posted by: anon at February 19, 2014 8:25 AM

>1/2 of bay area tech workers are in the middle class

Posted by: Jill at February 19, 2014 8:37 AM

^ What anon said 100% ^

The BA is wealthier by the day. We all gain on average. A few have to retrain or adjust, or at least their kids will have to. Big deal.

On another note:

I am appalled at the wide spread of steam power. This is the end of the working class as we know it!

Those darn steam machines have thrown scores of people in the street. The horse-related jobs, the spinning and weaving jobs, the lumberjacks that are replaced by more consistent and faster sawing machines (who needs straight 2x4s? not me!), the hammering of nails by machines.

None of those jobs will ever come back. Something has to be done!

Posted by: lol at February 19, 2014 9:06 AM

@BobBob -- Are you implying that some landlords are intentionally keeping their property in unsafe condition, awaiting an earthquake that will destroy their tenants' dwellings?

Posted by: two beers at February 19, 2014 9:10 AM

Tech deserves some of this back lash. I never forget that fundamentally, Google just wants to get as much personal information about you to sell crap to you, and Amazon has killed most bookstores so it can sell more crap to you on its "cheap" Kindle. One is just a big advertising agency and the other is a giant Walmart on the web.

Posted by: etslee at February 19, 2014 9:29 AM

etslee,

Yes, this is correct, but in exchange you get a lot of convenience added.

You got free maps, virtually free communications, free networking, free scheduling, free document management, free price comparison, free consumer review, free access to knowledge through optimized search, etc, etc... Basically access anywhere, everywhere.

I recall my folks organizing a vacation in the early 80s. We would take the train to Paris to go to a foreign tourist office and get as much paperwork as possible about hotels. Then we would write to these hotels, asking for availability. They would not take bookings by phone because of the language barrier. Everything took about 6 weeks and then we'd go to the local bank who would be ordering foreign currency. Then there was the trip itself and mundane things like knowing where cheap gas was (not the freeway). Then if the hotel sucked there was no easy way to back down, you were stuck.

Everything is easier today. Go online, compare, book, pay, organize your trip, etc. All in a mere few hours.

Access to information. This is the current revolution and out lives have changed for the better.

Posted by: lol at February 19, 2014 9:57 AM

"Tech is making the world flat and more equal"

Putting aside whether tach has or has not made the world more equal, can you explain what you mean more by a flat world?

I'm not sure if thats a good thing, necessarily, but would like some claification.
My first thoughts are flat = less interesting.

Posted by: REpornaddict at February 19, 2014 10:24 AM

"Presumably what will replace [pre-1970 buildings destroyed by the Big One] will be built-after-1970 units which will not be subject to rent control."

Wouldn't the city require that a replacement building also be under rent control? Imagine that an owner might be faced with a million dollar rebuild and then required to allow the former $700/mo tenants move back in. The Big One could be the straw that breaks the back of RC.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 19, 2014 10:40 AM

You got free maps, virtually free communications, free networking, free scheduling, free document management, free price comparison, free consumer review, free access to knowledge through optimized search, etc, etc... Basically access anywhere, everywhere.

Nothing is free, you're paying for it with reduced wages and giving up your privacy.

anon is right, there is more to world than middle class Americans. I should have clarified, that tech is making middle class Americans poorer.

The US economy is going to hollow out, with the rich and the poor being all that's left. I'm not a luddite, but I think we just need to realize that it's not going to be a smooth ride.

Posted by: Sam at February 19, 2014 11:14 AM

REPornaddict,

By more flat I mean the following: that someone who has a degree in India or Bulgaria can have access to a job at an US company, even if it's done remotely. This person's life has become much more interesting. Someone can follow technical knowledge at the same pace wherever he lives. This person's life has become more fulfilling. Someone knows about social advances in Tunisia and decide to make it happen in his country. This person has gained more control over his own destiny through knowledge.

Yes it brings everyone more and more towards a common cultural and technological basis, which can be a threat to global diversity. But the possibilities are endless. Look at what your life would have been 15 years ago, and try and imagine what it will be 15 years from now.

The world is becoming less hierarchical, we cannot be patronizing developing nations the way we used to before. No more trinkets for land deals, so to speak. This poses all sorts of geopolitical problems, especially to us. And we have Tech to thank/blame for it.

Posted by: lol at February 19, 2014 11:31 AM

lol..thnks for the explanation. I will have to ponder..

First thoughts are though that while Sam was criticized above for having a view of equal which was very American-centric, this view of aflat world seems very much driven by an American viewpoint too.

That having access to American jobs and social advances makes life more intersting etc.

Interesting, looking on wiki at the Friedman book "The world is flat" that popped up on my search seemed to have had a similar critique..
"Some critics have pointed out that the book is written from an American perspective"

Not really a criticism, just more an initial comment, as I said, I'll ponder more.
But flat didn't instinctively seem like a better world to me. Equal yes, but flat no...

Posted by: REpornaddict at February 19, 2014 12:49 PM

REpornaddict,

Flat is better for those who were kept away from our level of development. It's not better for us since we are losing in prominence.

I'll argue that life is more interesting when we do less meaningless chores and more creative work that require self-involvement. An Indian coder remotely working for Oracle will have a more fulfilling life than the grandparent who was selling street food (oversimplifying there for the purpose of argument).

Sam,

I am not sure the middle class is becoming poorer, at least in the sense of standard of living per work produced. If you look in $ terms, yes inflation has eaten into disposable income. But for the same $1 you have more technology, more entertainment, more communication, (arguably) more travel, more food diversity, more access to culture...

Now that's not mean that inequality hasn't risen, to the contrary. Levels of income have greatly widened between all classes. And then there's the big wild card that is education. This used to be the great equalizer, but it is less and less accessible to all, which could break the virtuous circle that defined the past 3 generations.

Posted by: lol at February 19, 2014 2:05 PM

Milkshake, no, I don't think the city can require that a replacement building also be under rent control.

I'm not a real estate attorney but my understanding of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act is that a building that is occupied first after 1995 can't be subject to rent control. A replacement building would get a new certificate of occupancy when it was completed.

Maybe someone's got a very strange appeals court interpretation to reach the conclusion that a building replaced after a natural disaster would still be subject to rent control; if so I haven't heard of it. The other possibility is that there's some kind of special case for buildings replaced after a natural disaster that doesn't reset the date of first occupancy.

Both of these assume that the natural disaster required significant construction or repairs. I think everyone on socketsite has seen residential projects where for all intents and purposes the home is new, but for Prop. 13 tax basis retention reasons just enough of the original construction is kept so that the property isn't reassessed (I'm not a tax attorney, either).

There is no straw necessary to "break the back of rent control", it's all over, as they say, "except for the shouting".

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at February 19, 2014 2:49 PM

Interesting Brahma. And good to know that this "RC escape" clause is only triggered by natural disasters. Otherwise there would be a spate of old RC buildings suddenly burning to the ground.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 19, 2014 4:39 PM

There was one recent case of a massive building fire that displaced tenants at FillMore and Haight 2 years 1/2.

The building was rebuilt and the owner bought out some of the tenants at the time. Tenants had the right to moved back at the original rate into brand new units, which was a win for the happy few.

The building is still rent controlled, even though most units are now pretty much in sync with today's market rate.

Posted by: lol at February 19, 2014 4:54 PM

@lol. Thanks for laughing at the fact that I was offended. Really classy. Do you really walk around calling people 'fruits'?

smh.

Posted by: BernalDweller at February 19, 2014 5:51 PM

"Flat is better for those who were kept away from our level of development. It's not better for us since we are losing in prominence"

There has to be lots of benefits for many in the developed world for a flat world though...otherwise it wouldn't be happening, surely? In other words, its not happening out of benevolence.

Just think in conclusion that a flat world is pretty dull if it's largely one country and arguably even one industry thats doing all the flattening.

Posted by: REpornaddict at February 19, 2014 5:53 PM

ok, stop right there, I understood your post as a pun on Apple (vs the Google bus). I took it as humor, when you were genuinely offended (?). In any case if the "fruit-and-nut activist" term offended you personally I apologize.

If you do not get why the most extreme activists in SF can be called "fruits-and-nuts" I suggest you get out of the 7X7 more often.

Posted by: lol at February 19, 2014 6:03 PM

Strike that. I didn't know what fruit meant. deepest apologies.

Posted by: lol at February 19, 2014 6:08 PM

I'm confused. BernalDweller is a 'crazy person' and is thus offended by lol's comments? What?

http://www.waywordradio.org/land_of_fruit_and_nuts/

Posted by: R at February 20, 2014 8:19 AM

R,

I had the same understanding of the expression, but I realized it will be considered as offensive to many in SF.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Land%20of%20Fruits%20and%20Nuts

BernalDweller's reaction is totally justified. {puts foot in mouth}

In any case, that doesn't change the fact that we have too may extreme activists in SF. SF is 80% democrat and the only way they can look more progressive is going nuts at anything and everything. They should move to the flyovers and try and change the world where it needs to be changed. Say Gipsy Taub undressing in Minnesota or supe Campos fighting against speculation in Nebraska. Now that would be ballsy.

Posted by: lol at February 20, 2014 8:56 AM

Quite amazing how saying the word fruit can unintentionally upset people. But flat-out declaring hatred for, and wishing destruction of, wealthy self-made (probably white) people is just dandy.

What an interesting city we live in.

Posted by: anon at February 20, 2014 9:17 AM

Thanks, lol. I appreciate it. And for the record, I agree that although the anger due to the rising cost of rents is quite real, the protests are often extremely misguided.

Posted by: BernalDweller at February 20, 2014 10:03 AM

You scumsucking neo-liberals make me sick. Especially lol. What a [Removed by Editor] monster. Instead of actually trying to understand what the concerns of the protesters are, he posits a grotesque caricature of them, and it goes unchallenged.

You all seriously need to stop and consider that rising rates of housing forces folks out of their homes. The fact that you whine about moving into an area and having high rent, and then BLAME THE PEOPLE WHO ARE RENT CONTROLLED just shows your lack of empathy or understanding of economics.

I'm outraged by your desire to use the San Francisco community as your playground while not immersing yourself in the politics and community that made this city great. Your desire to whitewash everything and make the Earth "flat" is philosophically totalitarian and you should be ashamed. Diversity is not hierarchy.

Posted by: RedTillI'mDead at February 21, 2014 3:29 PM

RedTillI'mDead,

I have empathy for an oppressed minority. I do not have empathy for an overprotected MAJORITY that keeps voting itself a free ride.

Yes, majority, because tenants are more than 60% of all of SF dwellers and they are overwhelmingly covered by the rent control laws.

You created the stalemate. You created the animosity by going after everything and anything that resembled a profit-making venture. A guy buys a place and wants to renovate and sell for a profit? What a greedy monster! Where does he think he lives? America?

It's your home, but it's not your property.

Posted by: lol at February 21, 2014 3:48 PM

And about the "flat earth", obviously you missed the arab spring, the rise of the BRICS, etc, etc...

Maybe Mao's little red book needs to be amended so you can learn a thing or 2 about today.

Posted by: lol at February 21, 2014 3:51 PM

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