SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Amid the excitement caused by Twitter’s highly anticipated IPO on Thursday morning, protesters—attempting to ruffle the feathers of the social media company—marched outside its headquarters in San Francisco decrying the city’s tax breaks for high-tech companies.
About a two dozen people with banners protested in front of entrance of Twitter’s Market Street headquarters. Some laid in the doorways to illustrate what they said are the deaths of coming to the working poor that are being forced out of the city by rising rents brought in by the influx of high-tech companies.
Protester Steve Zeltzer said he was offended by the tax breaks being offered by the city when there is not affordable housing. San Francisco is a highly desirable location for high tech so he questions why the city is “giving the away the store.”
“Big companies are coming to San Francisco because they want to be here. It’s a place to be for their technology and for people to do technology. So actually, they’ll come and they’ll pay but basically the politicians are listening to Twitter and not listening to the people in San Francisco and the people in the Bay Area,” he said.
While Twitter had agreed to give back to the community and Mayor Ed Lee said that if “Twitter wins, everyone wins.”
Protesters, however, said it will amount only a fraction of the company’s profits.
However, not everyone in the neighborhood is upset about Twitter’s presence.
Phillip Ma, owner of the Little Griddle restaurant at Market and 10th streets, kitty-corner to the massive Twitter building, said that since Twitter’s arrival, the Mid-Market area — known for blight, crime and a large homeless population — “has been more lively.”
He credits Twitter for bringing more people to the area and ramping up business at his eatery.
Ma said he has had to increase staffing at the restaurant in the past two years, and that with the company now public he predicts only more benefits.
Patrick and Co. stationery store on the ground floor of Fox Plaza across the street from Twitter hasn’t seen much change in business, but employee John Forrey said he thinks Twitter’s presence “is good for the neighborhood.”
He said that with Twitter nearby, the Mid-Market corridor has been receiving more positive publicity and that there is a general feeling that the area is getting better.
“It seems like it’s an improvement,” he said.
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