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Dropbox, Airbnb, and the Fight Over San Francisco’s Public Spaces

October 24, 2014

By Julia Carrie Wong : NewYorkTimes – excerpt

On most mornings in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, elderly Asian women practice tai chi under the pollarded sycamore trees. Last Thursday morning, this long-running scene was disrupted by protesters, who gathered on the steps of City Hall to speak out against the privatization of public parks. The plaza was surrounded by barricades and guarded by a group of private security guards. The space had been rented out to Salesforce, the city’s largest tech employer, for the company’s annual Dreamforce Gala and Benefit Concert. As the protesters chanted—“Mission Playground is not for sale!”—a trio of women performed slow, graceful tai-chi movements in the alcove of a staircase, across the street, leading to an underground parking lot.

The protest—which drew at least two hundred people, including several middle- and high-school students who said that their parents and school principals had approved their absence from school—was a response to a video that went viral on Bay Area social media on October 10th. The video, which was first picked up by the local blog Uptown Almanac, jumped to more than half a million views after a post on the blog Valleywag. It depicts an incident that occurred, in August, at the soccer field at Mission Playground, a public park in San Francisco’s historically Latino but increasingly gentrified Mission District… (more)

This seemingly small dispute over playground access in the Mission District is the latest in a much broader fight between established San Francisco residents who want to stay in their homes, preserve their places of business, jobs, parking rights, and lifstyles, and the nouveau tech riche, who appear to be swooping in and buying the city out from under them… (more)

 

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