Neighbor Meets Uber Driver Who Lives in Bernal Heights, Worries About Rent

Bernal Hill

Neighbor Jen lives in the La Lengua Autonomous Zone, and she shares this story about how she recently met another neighbor who drives for Uber to make ends meet:

The Uber driver who picked me up today turned out to be my neighbor. He lives literally 3 doors down from me on Mission and has lived there for nearly 35 years. I’d never met him before today, but he told me he pays $900 for a 3-bedroom apartment thanks to rent-control. However, the building just next to him sold, so he is nervous he will be pushed out by “Silicon Valley guy” who is buying a lot of properties on Mission St.

I had an amazing ride with him, and got to hear about how he put 3 kids through college (and good schools too) and worked 16-hour days at a bank downtown and now drives an Uber a few hours a day because it isn’t “trabajo duro;” it’s fun for him and he only drives in Bernal/Noe/Mission. Even if he gets a fare that takes him downtown (like I did) he just turns around and heads back to the hood because that’s where he likes to drive.

Who knew Uber, or all companies, would help me meet my neighbor? I’ll be looking for him on the street to say hello, or snag a ride, and am glad to know that there still are *some* rent-controlled units around, especially on a block where every other storefront has turned over in the past year. For context, the people on the floor below me are paying $4300/month for a 1000sqft 3bed 2bath.

Yours in real estate tales,

Neighbor Jen down in La Lengua

Illustration: Bernalwood

17 thoughts on “Neighbor Meets Uber Driver Who Lives in Bernal Heights, Worries About Rent

  1. Ah, the irony. While Uber gave you the opportunity to meet your neighbor, it is also part of the reason he is nervous about his rent going up. For better or for worse, Uber is “the Silicon Valley guy”.

  2. Loved your story and how inexpensive rent and his hard work allowed him to do all he did for his family. Wishing him the best.
    From another perspective, we have been home owners in Bernal for 28 years and rent out a flat . We turned a run down house into a beauty by our hard work. We added a fireplace in both flats and replaced windows for great views. We put quality appliances in the rental, added a washer and dryer. We have put our best into that rental flat always and hand it over totally clean and painted with wooden floors in top shape, Windows are washed inside and out, We are totally there for our tenants in every way and treat them as equals. We do not push for top dollar , but I will also say that the increase in income through the years has really helped us in our retirement years. People with jobs get raises after all. Upkeep on the building costs more money every year; our taxes have increased and we are no longer bringing in the income we did from jobs when we were working . We are 78.

  3. The nabe has plenty of rent-controlled apartments, though. With minor exceptions, every apartment built before June, 1979 (which has got to be most of the apts in Bernal) is rent-controlled. Storefronts aren’t subject to rent control, so that’s a different story.

  4. It’s lovely that Uber is connecting people. At the same time, it is putting cab drivers out of business, and the owner is not a “good guy”. And why should Uber have been allowed to pick up people at the airport at the arriving car area rather than cab area? I think that drivers who are driving people for business/money should all have the same standards and training and insurance coverage. It is a job/work, not ride sharing. Jobs and income are much needed but we need to also look at the larger picture and the affect of businesses on other businsses and workers, whether Walmart or Uber.

    • Henry Ford put the saddle makers around the world out of business, bummer. Sorry but there is enough dog poop around the hill I am glad we are not dealing with horse poop too. The reason why there are rules and fees associated with airport pick ups is because the local government agencies are greedy bloated messes. It is more or less an extension of the street but just so happens that it is near planes. Should we add fees to pick ups for someone at Caltrain or near bus stops? I hate paying that fee(tax) sorry but as you can tell I disagree.

    • UBER screwed over its drivers and benefited the TAXI companies on New Year’s Eve. Y’see, Uber raised their “demand” rates so high that nobody wanted to ride them, so passengers took cabs instead. I have a Yellow cab friend who did VERY well on NYE. I understand that few Uber drivers made more than about $15 on NYE.

      But Uber makes no bones about it. As soon as driverless cars are legal Uber plans to ditch human drivers entirely. This is why Google is so interested in buying Uber.

      Of course, the best business model for Uber is exactly the opposite of what they’re doing, but the Uber folks are too stupid to realize it. What they should be doing is flipping the business model on its head; instead of charging a premium for downtown easy rides, reduce those to minimums and charge higher prices for the LESS demanded rides. Thus, Uber drivers will get longer and better-paying fares, though they’d be out in the Richmond and Sunset districts, Dogpatch, and Golden Gate Heights, etc. But you can’t tell know-it-all start-up people anything…

  5. Bravo… but I find that investing 35 years of blood, sweat, tears and money in a neighborhood by raising a family and making a home don’t mean squat to the “if ya can’t afford it, move to Oakland” forces. I keep hopin the more-money-than-sense folks with all them brains will begin to understand the incredible investment the others have made, and show them some respect. Bravo as well to @Nancy upthread – thank you for building this neighborhood.

  6. Betsy, I am not sure that the facts support your assertion that cab drivers make more money than Uber folks. See article below.

    As a customer, I have had much, much better experiences with the Uber drivers than taxi drivers. Maybe Uber’s driver rating system is more effective at weeding out bad drivers, than having expensive training and licensure requirements. I do agree with you that the Uber folks should be required to have commercial levels of insurance.

    http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/22/uber-study/

    • I believe @Betsy said that Uber was putting cab drivers out of business, not that cab drivers make more money than Uber folks. I believe her point was that Uber drivers dodge many of the laws, rules and fees that other professional drivers face for doing the same work, for whatever reason.

    • I actually didn’t say or even imply to imply that cab drivers make more than Uber drivers. I really believe that after companies like Uber break the unions, cause cab companies to got out of business, the owner can do as they want with rates and pay to his employees. I think that when companies don’t have a set rate and can raise their rates at will or charge differenetly for different events, it’s only a matter of time before they can pull all kinds of other things. And then there won’t be the alternatives of cab companies. Just trying to look at practices and ethics and see the writing on the wall. That’s just my point of view and nothing against folks who are working to pay their bills.

  7. It is so incredibly ironic to hear people worry over the financial well being of an Uber driver. Does anybody around here realize that Uber is busy destroying the cab industry? Does anybody worry about taxi cab drivers, owners, operators? What about their kids? Do you have the same level of concern for them? I drove a cab for 30 years in San Francisco and lived in BH the whole time. Many of my Bernal neighbors drove cab in the old days. I can tell you it disappoints me enormously to see so little working class consciousness there is in Bernal Heights today. Patronizing Uber or Lyft speaks volumes about your point of view and sense of history in our city. BTW, I’m very curious to know how the surge pricing will work after the next earthquake, Bernal Uber patrons. How about a hundred bucks a block? You know you can afford it.

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