Uber

New Coalition Blames Tech Industry for City's Problems, Demands Uber Solve Them

Plan to open headquarters in Oakland, California, upsets locals who fear tech displaces minorities.

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Uber offices in Birmingham
Elliott Brown / Flickr

Concerned new well-paying tech jobs may disrupt their diverse and rent-stabilized community, activists in Oakland, California, are making tough demands on Uber in advance of its opening a headquarters downtown.

In 2015, Uber purchased the historic downtown Sears Building with plans to open a new global headquarters by 2017 bringing with it 3,000 new employees. The ride-sharing giant has since scaled back its proposal and is now planning to open with only a few hundred employees in 2018.

Outraged at the company's caution, a new coalition called No Uber Oakland is demanding a concrete plan. From their website:

"Uber has announced plans to move into the former Sears building in downtown Oakland. Although details of Uber's plans keep changing, many Oaklanders think Uber doesn't belong in this historically diverse and working-class city that's already struggling with gentrification and displacement—problems Uber's arrival—as the leading edge of a growing tech wave—will likely make worse.

We say NO to Uber in Oakland—unless the company makes concrete commitments to protect our city's workers, small and minority-owned businesses, and community groups while upholding our city's values."

A city that prides itself on being anti-establishment is now pushing back against the world's most valuable startup.

The coalition made 10 demands, including hiring local minorities, giving drivers a living wage, helping to solve the affordable housing crisis, supporting mass transit, and supporting local artists. Most of these claims center on fears of displacement and gentrification. Salaried tech jobs, the thinking goes, will force out minorities and artists through increased costs of housing and commercial space.

Some locals have expressed concerns lower income residents will be pushed out into housing like the converted warehouse known as the Ghost Ship, where 36 people died last December in the deadliest fire in the city's history.

Oakland has a devastating housing affordability crisis but the problem isn't business development. From 2013 to 2016, the city issued just 1,332 new building permits. The most recent rules change, meant to remove building fees and allow for more cheap construction, will only amount to building 600 new homes over the next 10 years. Government restriction of supply has created the mess.

Critics beat up on the company's global human resources representative, Renee Atwood, for flubbing diversity numbers at a city press conference. However, Uber is a tech industry leader in diversity. Of its workforce of 12,000, 36 percent are women, almost 9 percent African American and almost 6 percent Latino. Google by comparison has a workforce that is 2 percent African American and 3 percent Latino.

Uber also fills managerial roles with drivers and does not require STEM degrees for many positions, allowing minority drivers to move up in the company. The ride-sharing giant has, in addition, pledged $3 million to organizations that support women and minorities in tech.

Uber is already fulfilling some of the demands of No Uber Oakland, that "Uber's workforce—not just its drivers, but the full-time, well-paid employees in departments like engineering, marketing and finance—must reflect Oakland's diversity."

Providing well-paying jobs and new tax revenue, Uber is already doing more to help Oakland, with its high rents, underperforming transit system, and the poorest neighborhoods in the Bay Area than No Uber Oakland.

NEXT: Professor Bibas writes letters (and lots of articles, too)

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  1. Lillian Kaushtupper is real, and she is everywhere.

  2. YES!!

    Let the far left tech wealthy be devoured by the people they claim to represent.

    This is awesome. Pass the popcorn.

  3. “Or we could just sell the building and leave it empty. How would you like that?”

  4. “In 2015, Uber purchased the historic downtown Sears Building with plans to open a new global headquarters by 2017 bringing with it 3,000 new employees. The ride-sharing giant has since scaled back its proposal and is now planning to open with only a few hundred employees in 2018.

    Outraged at the company’s caution, a new coalition called No Uber Oakland is demanding a concrete plan.”

    Uber is so evil, the coalition is demanding they stick to their original promise of being 10x more evil.

  5. The coalition made 10 demands, including hiring local minorities, giving drivers a living wage, helping to solve the affordable housing crisis, supporting mass transit, and supporting local artists.

    So they’re demanding that Uber replace the city government? As I recall, progs say that these are all things that only government can do.

    1. They do seem to think that businesses can be treated like their personal cash machine just like they do the taxpayers.

    2. helping to solve the affordable housing crisis

      Why would they expect fucking Uber, of all things, to do this?

      supporting mass transit

      Why would Uber go against their own interests?

      Goddamn, people are fucking dumb.

      1. They can’t wait for Airbnb’s arrival.

    3. Supporting mass transit? They are mass transit!

  6. Plan to open headquarters in Oakland . . .

    I don’t understand this.

    This isn’t cutting edge tech these guys are working with. It may have taken some excessively bright and motivated people to create the app and get it running and grab that first bit of market share but now? Its should be basically code-monkey work that any halfway decent programmer could do.

    Move a little further away, to one of those small towns that would love to have you, hire some mid-range coders, save a shit-ton of money – and probably be even offered tax breaks as the local government welcomes you with open arms.

    Instead they move to Oakland? Just seems to be the worst of all possible options.

    1. This isn’t cutting edge tech these guys are working with. It may have taken some excessively bright and motivated people to create the app and get it running and grab that first bit of market share but now? Its should be basically code-monkey work that any halfway decent programmer could do.

      I’m with you 100% on this. Uber is a great idea with some neat tech behind it- routing a request to available drivers etc. But really, in the end it’s a ride-hailing app. The value is in the service, not so much the technology. Regular cab companies could go to this system tomorrow.

      If I were Uber, I’d set up shop in flyover country– you know, those places that are actually happy to have jobs?

      1. Uber probably thinks it’s a Rockstar Technology Company and can only get the Rockstar Programmers it needs in the bay area, is my guess?

        I mean, it obviously isn’t that – there’s nothing all that special or awesome about their backend needs or app requirements…

  7. The best thing that has ever happened for Oakland has been the development occurring over the last several years.

    The food scene is fantastic, the night life is better, Fox and Paramount theaters have great shows all the time, street fairs like First Friday abound, and condos are going up everywhere giving lots of people opportunity to live in Oakland. The office spaces are filling up with startups which create vibrancy throughout downtown. (yes you sometimes run into that badge-wearing mob of techies in their 20s at lunch but they’re not so bad really)…

    Of course, this is bad for some reason.

    1. As the article quotes No Uber Oakland, “many Oaklanders think Uber doesn’t belong in this historically diverse and working-class city that’s already struggling with gentrification and displacement?problems Uber’s arrival?as the leading edge of a growing tech wave?will likely make worse.”

      I do not waste effort trying to understand these people, but why any business would even think to opening it’s doors in a place that fucking obtuse is just beyond me.

      1. I wonder how many of the “many Oaklanders” are unemployed? I’ve noticed a tendency among pampered middle-class white leftists to make a fetish of working class or peasant “lifestyles”, which they themselves of course don’t live but rather lionize while drinking their fancy fair-trade organic coffee-like drinks. It’s like those lefties who want to visit Cuba and take lots of iPhone pics before the evil capitalists “ruin” it by bringing prosperity to people mired in socialist poverty.

        1. Don’t say irony is lost on them!

      2. “The place” isn’t that fucking obtuse. I’m sure No Uber Oakland’s just a few loudmouths, quoting “many Oaklanders”. Whoopee.

  8. The coalition made 10 demands

    The proper response to demands from a coalition of activists trying to rent-seek and make ideological support demands and the like is “go pound sand”.

    If you want to be polite, that is.

  9. I love how the Marxist intersectional nut jobs want Oakland to remain a shit hole by keeping job creators out with stupid demands.

  10. “Providing well-paying jobs and new tax revenue, Uber is already doing more to help Oakland, with its high rents, underperforming transit system, and the poorest neighborhoods in the Bay Area than No Uber Oakland.”

    Those bastards! They must be stopped! Why they, or any other company, would even consider opening a facility in a place like Oakland where they are sure to be attacked regularly by hard Left activists is a mystery.

  11. Hey Uber! Delta is ready when you are! (Hint: Delta’s main hub is in the ATL.)

  12. In all fairness for those of you not in the bay area, it is out of control down there. I grew up in the north bay, and I’ve lived in Seattle for 12 years, and it’s getting nuts here too. Like to the point of actually pushing out people making GREAT money by national standards. At a certain point it is a little ridiculous. 1 million 75k dollars for a smallish square footage 4 bedroom on my block in what was a middle class neighborhood here only a few years back.

    I don’t understand why all these tech companies have wasted billions in added labor and real estate costs by not opening up campuses in more cities with big/educated work forces… But they really should start. These commies in Oakland are idiots, and it’s not the right way to go about things, but it is a serious issue that is wrecking other parts of the local economy because they don’t have the margins tech does to soak up insane operating costs driven up by the tech companies themselves. They really do need to spread the lovin’ around to the mid west and south or something…

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