Some antitech protestors recently handed out a McMansion award in San Francisco:
Wearing a pig mask and sequined suit jacket, Amy Gilgan stood outside of Davies Symphony Hall on Thursday night to accept the McMansion award at the second annual Crappys on behalf of Jack Halprin, a Google lawyer, landlord and frequent target of San Francisco’s antitech ire.
In sparkles and sneakers, technorati streamed past protesters and into the concert hall for the eighth annual Crunchies Awards, the supposed Oscars of Silicon Valley. Few turned their heads to witness the sidewalk satire. Investor Ron Conway, who last year stood on the Crunchies stage and offered his sympathy to the protesters, buzzed by a group of taxi drivers rallying against Uber. Evening news crews scaled back their coverage.
This year the pig masks were new, but the message was old. The verve of the antitech demonstrators felt diminished, and even they noted that the turnout was low.
McMansion sounds like an invasive species for the self-interested and wealthy. Some of the backstory:
Tirado said things started off badly as soon as Halprin bought and moved into the seven-unit building two years ago. First, Halprin forced one tenant out under owner move-in laws. Then another existing tenant was evicted, again through the owner move-in process. Halprin told tenants that his domestic partner would be taking over the second unit. That partner, however, never materialized, according to Erin McElroy, an organizer with Eviction Free San Francisco. The affected tenant has since filed a wrongful eviction lawsuit against Halprin.
The remaining six tenants, which includes two teachers, a small child, an artist and a disabled senior, received Ellis Act eviction notifications in February of this year.
The protests continued through December. This is a big issue right now in San Francisco: in a very expensive housing market, Silicon Valley employees and companies have been perceived by some as throwing their weight around regarding properties and sending buses for workers. While this could be thought of as a more localized issue in some cities – perhaps gentrification occurring in particular neighborhoods – it is bigger than that since prices are high all over the Bay Area.
Two other quick thoughts:
1. It is interesting that we don’t hear as much about protests on this issue in New York City even though Manhattan is similarly expensive and luxury construction is booming. Perhaps the land there is being redeveloped from non-residential uses and/or fewer people are being displaced?
2. Generally, I don’t think winning an award with McMansion in the title is intended as a compliment.