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Google bus protest

Lots of people are talking about yesterday’s demonstration in the Mission involving a Google bus and MUNI bus stop, particularly the part about the faux techie who fooled many (including this reporter) by appearing to disembark from the blocked bus and begin frothing at the mouth, yelling things at a protester like, “I’m just trying to get to work!” and “I can pay my rent, can you?”

To those of us reporters who were there, it sure seemed real enough.  Fortunately the Mission Local editor was sufficiently skeptical and she was right: a couple hours later, protest organizer Leslie Dryer called Mission Local to emphasize that the provocateur (identified by several media outlets as Max Alper) had spontaneously joined the protest action and his outburst was not part of the plan.

Google did not respond to our requests for comment, but according to the Huffington Post, said in an emailed statement, “We certainly don’t want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents and we and others in our industry are working with the SFMTA to agree on a policy on shuttles in the city.”

In a phone interview yesterday, SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose told us a new pilot program allowing shuttles in “approved MUNI zones” goes to the SFMTA board in January. If approved, the program would be put into place next summer, Rose said. He did not give the impression that the agency would be taking a cue from the protesters by demanding the SF tech industry pay $1 billion in fines.

In an opinion piece for the New York Times last week, contributing writer Timothy Egan bemoans San Francisco’s lamentable public transportation and the city’s current socioeconomic situation. “In one recent comment about this tale of two cities, a reader here wrote: “Why is it a problem that underachievers are moving out?” Why? Let me count the ways. A city without its nurses, its teachers, its artists, its waiters, its bus drivers, its cops, its musicians and writers and grandmothers as residents is a monoculture — as sterile as a forest of a single commercial tree species.”

Exactly what many in the Mission have been stressing for the past few years.

Kurt Dalen

Yesterday SF.Streets provided a bit more information on Kurt Dalen, the 30-year-old Mission artist who was killed by a hit-and-run driver last week on Valencia Street. According to the post, Dalen was the 14th pedestrian to be hit and killed by a car in San Francisco this year alone; one of six to be killed or seriously injured in the past two weeks.

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Greta Mart is a Bay Area-based newspaper reporter and freelance writer, and currently a student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. From 2005 to 2012 she was a staff reporter at two community newspapers in WA and CA, and has contributed to several Bay Area and Seattle area newspapers, as well as Pacific Yachting and Italy's Gulliver and La Republicca's D magazines. Greta holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and studied history at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. She lives aboard her sailboat at the Berkeley Marina.

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  1. It’s a shame that some housing activist from Oakland was able to create such a distraction from a legitimate protest action, but I’m glad to hear that Google recognizes the problems it’s buses cause and is working towards a more equitable solution with the city.

    1. Mark, yes a 73% approval rating for Ed Lee is massive, and well above the 60% he got when trouncing Avalos in the last mayoral runoff.

      But a claim that “affordability” is the major issue is hardly revealing. Everyone would like to be able to get more for their money than they do. You might as well ask people if they would like free money.

      1. It’s not wise to ignore the “Affordability” sentiment. There is a real potential for a self-defeating political “backlash” should we ignore it. Remember Chris Daly.

        1. Mark, I don’t think we are doing nothing about having a shortage of homes. We are building thousands of them, for instance.

          But when you have a desirable place to live AND a booming economy AND very rigid land use rules THEN you will have expensive homes.

          It’s the same in every affluent city around the world, and particularly those constrained by water e.g. Hong Kong, Manhattan, Sydney and any number of tax shelters and principalities.

          The bad news is that there probably will never be a solution to housing unaffordability (bar a massive earhtquake, perhaps). The good news is that people can adapt to that and make decisions for themselves accordingly.