Development/Gentrification

Letter: Snap employees! How can you sleep at night?

16939619_10211590141087048_4206813701208564790_nI would like all employees of Snap Inc to please take a minute and think about where you grew up –the town, the streets, the people, the surroundings…The neighborhood you ran around in with your brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, friends and family. The buildings, businesses and playgrounds you used to frequent that are imbedded in your memories and will never forget, along with every back alley, every turn of every corner, and the places you’ve spent almost every holiday. And now think about outsiders coming into your town in the form of a covert operation, coming in with lots of money and greed and power, and then having everything you’ve known about the place being ripped to pieces, shredded and torn up and taken over by this one single entity. How would you like to see all the people you love, family and friends you’ve known your entire lives, being forced to move out because of this one single company? Store owners who have been like family members since you were a child being forced to close their shops and then go through extremely tough times because of this One. Single. Company. One beloved neighbor after the next gets displaced, one beloved business after the next gets pushed out, one beloved local after the next gets hassled, one long-time resident after the next gets treated like they don’t belong… Not only is it sad… it’s just simply wrong – and YOU know it. How can you sleep at night?

Did you ever wonder how, when and why your CEO Evan Spiegel decided he wanted to literally take over an entire beach town? Think about it. He was quoted as saying, “Our dream had always been to have an office on the beach” yet this dream at some point turned into having THE WHOLE ENTIRE BEACH and has resulted in shredding all of the character, history and structure from the entire community – and to make it even worse, he doesn’t even live here!! Personally I think he suffers from “Affluenza”: a person’s inability to understand the consequences of one’s actions because of financial privilege – it just simply makes sense. There is a rumor about Spiegel being bullied by Venice locals when he was a teenager and this is his form of revenge. I’d like to think he’s grown up since then… but look at what he’s doing to Venice and it’s very possible he hasn’t. And the fact that all of you 2,000+ employees are turning a blind eye and actually trying to justify what he’s doing to our community as a positive thing means you are no better than he is. YOU are the ones that are representing HIM. And YOUR negligence in all of this, YOUR refusal to speak up and say how you feel about all of this only solidifies the fact that you just don’t care and you are just as egotistical as your superiors and your childish CEO. How can you sleep at night?

What’s going on here in our community is devastating and it really is much like a foreign military taking over a new territory without any regards to the consequences – Power, money and greed, greed, greed stomping in without any thought to the history or people of the area. The Freak Show… “NO get out – we want it!” Gingerbread Court… “NO get out – we want it!” LA Louver… “NO get out – we want it!!” What’s next – the Erwin Hotel??… Hmmm…quite possibly! Apparently they’re already using the top floors for their employees and one young gentleman said he went there for a job interview but thankfully didn’t accept the offer because of what they are doing to our community here in Venice. He knows what’s going on here is wrong…and YOU know it too. How can you sleep at night?

Look at all the office space you have accumulated: 90% of it had people working in them previously… all gone now just for YOU and YOUR desk and computer – you don’t care I guess. The residential units you are all living and working in: 90% of them had people living in there that had to relocate… all gone now just for YOU – you don’t care I guess. That parking space you’re using only 5 days a week that no one uses overnight anymore – certainly 100% of them were previously used by locals and residents… all gone now just for YOU during your working hours – you don’t care I guess. Businesses and residents are being forced to move every week and every month and it’s all very wrong and I’d bet 95% of you know it deep down – or you just don’t care I guess. How can you sleep at night?

Venice has always been known as a place where everyone knows your name, you say “hello” to strangers, and are probably best friends with some of your neighbors. It’s one of the few places around the globe where you could have a world-renown artist living next to a wealthy executive in a house next to a nocturnal drug dealer all living together in perfect harmony with respect for each other. It’s an environment where different people can get along with huge differences, no matter the race, religion or tax bracket, and still have a mutual respect. But there is no respect here at all. None. Your CEO, Evan Spiegel could be a hero, the next Abbot Kinney of Venice, he could be an enormous asset to the community, but instead he’s being a childhood bully with the nickname “Evil Spiegel” without a care in the world, looking down on people who weren’t born with the same privileged lifestyle he was. This isn’t “business”, this is classless. This is shameful. It’s a cowardly takeover fueled solely on greed and money. In the debate of human morals of what’s right and wrong –this is so wrong it falls immediately off the scale. As one Google executive told me about Snap employees, “They should all be embarrassed”, and he’s right. How can you sleep at night?

The residents and locals here know most of you are decent people. And most of us locals are decent people too, which is why things haven’t gotten violent… yet, because some of us can be assholes especially when we’re shoved. But some of you are even bigger assholes than your immature CEO who wants to take over our town. And all it takes is one sarcastic smile or one drunken comment and the buildup of frustration might burst and things will get ugly. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t happened already. I’m not going to say that violence would not be part of a solution to this problem your CEO has created because it’s succeeded in some other towns, but what I will say to all of you, all of you employees of Snap Inc, is that you need to stand up and do what’s right, voice your own displeasure, communicate with each other and have some self-respect. IF YOU LOVE VENICE SO MUCH YOU WOULDN’T HELP IN TEARING IT APART! Tell your superiors that you want to work with your desk and computer somewhere else. Tell them you want to work in a place without tension where the locals are friendly with the employees of your company and vice-versa. Voice your unhappiness of what your company is doing to the neighborhood you work in. Do something important, have some self-respect, take a stand, do the right thing and contribute to saving our community, the very same community many of you call home yourselves, and that separates us from Santa Monica and Marina del Rey. You know what your company is doing is wrong! Who would want to work for a company that is ruining tradition, culture and the lives of so many good people?? How can any of you sleep at night?

We all love the beach and anyone can understand your willingness to work here like your CEO always wanted, but I’m sure most of you don’t agree with taking over so many properties and displacing so many businesses and residents like a financial genocide. It’s not the right thing for any company to do anywhere in the world let alone here in Venice which has gained its reputation by being different than everywhere else. And trying to justify it by throwing a little money at a few non-profits and pointing to real estate developers and property owners who are your lone supporters is like spitting in our faces, and it’s no consolation to ruining the lives of so many good people who have made their homes and workplaces here well before most of you were even born! Your CEO Evan Spiegel made a quote where he said, “It’s not about working harder – it’s about working the system”. The fact that this quote is from a rich privileged white kid from the Palisades and not a person who was born a minority, or without the resources of a loving family or financial support pretty much says it all. How can HE sleep at night? And how can ANY OF YOU?

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