Groups Sue To Block Tech Bus Plan, Say Shuttles “Symbolize a pretty critical housing shortage in our city”

A coalition of housing, labor and LGBT advocates today filed an environmental appeal against San Francisco’s plan to allow private commuter shuttles to use public bus stops for a small fee.

The 18-month pilot program, approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors last month, will charge $1 per stop for the use of Muni stops by companies like Google and Facebook transporting their employees to work down the Peninsula.

The appeal, filed today by a group including Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, Tom Temprano, president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Club, and members of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, argues that the program should be subject to environmental review.

The program was set to start on July 1 but could be delayed as a result of the appeal, which the city’s Board of Supervisors is required to hear within 21 to 45 days from today.

The group filing the appeal says that the buses are causing the displacement of residents and leading to adverse air quality impacts.

“There’s a reason these buses have come to symbolize a pretty critical housing shortage in our city,” Temprano said.

“We want the MTA and city to do due diligence on the actual impacts of the shuttles,” he said. “Mapping and data shows rents and evictions have skyrocketed along these bus routes.”

Cynthia Crews from the San Francisco League of Pissed-Off Voters, another member of the group filing the appeal, said the program is also affecting Muni bus service.

“Charging $1 per bus per stop is a joke,” Crews said in a statement. “It does nothing to mitigate the operation impacts to vital Muni service or to address the car trips created through displacement.”

Muni spokesman Paul Rose said the agency is confident that the environmental clearance for the pilot program is appropriate and will be upheld despite the appeal.

“We developed this pilot proposal to help insure the most efficient transportation network possible by reducing Muni delays and further reducing congestion on our roadways,” Rose said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • Elias Levy

    “Charging $1 per bus per stop is a joke,”. Sigh. They very well that by state law the city can’t charge any more for the program than its required to run it.

    And the buses are causing displacement, at best, marginally, by making it easier for some folks to commute. Of curse, the same could be said of MUNI, BART, and CalTrain. Are they really arguing against mass transportation as a way to minimize displacement?

    This is silly. Target the real problem, the lack of affordable housing being built in the city. The shuttle buses are just a side show with no real impact on displacement.

    • Justizin

      They do have an impact on displacement, because many people riding shuttle buses, regardless of how they respond to a survey, would likely relocate closer to their jobs. Maybe then some of us who actually work in San Francisco could live here instead of the east bay.

      Noone wants to build affordable housing in San Francisco, real estate speculators want to build new, luxury units while the rent on older stock will continue to stay high. Furthermore, “affordable housing” usually means low-income housing, not reasonable middle-class housing.

      • Elias Levy

        That’s one opinion. My opinion, is that any such impact is marginal, as the surveys you dismiss indicate.

        Yes, riding a shuttle to work for 45 minutes is better than driving for 45 minutes, but living a few minutes from work beats both. So if you want to live close to work and you can, you will likely do so whether a shuttle is available or not. Therefore, those that already can and wont live closer, are not likely to do so if the shuttles go away.

        People live far from work for many reasons. Not just because they like living here. They may have partners that work here or in the opposite direction, or they may have family to help with the kids, or they own their home and trying to buy a new one is not possible or too risky.

        Either way, the number of people using these shuttles to commute out of the city pales compared to the number of new workers within the city. So again, the impact of removing those commuting workers is marginal on displacement.

        Where you are correct is that no builder wants to build affordable housing. We can call that speculation if you want, but its just builders rationally maximizing their profit and minimizing their risk (and if you have ever tried to build something in SF you know there are plenty of risks involved).

        The solution is legislation. We need not just more below market rate housing, but a more diverse housing mix. Developers increase the cost of their of high end housing to account for the mandated below market rate housing. That leaves middle-class housing unavailable. The city needs to mandate quotas for other housing levels.

        The city also needs to stop allowing developers from placing their mandated below market rate housing elsewhere or paying into the city fund in lieu of building the housing. That creates ghettos of rich and poor. We need mixed housing to create an integrated city.

        • 94103er

          Yep, and large amounts of mixed housing is being planned–thanks to Hope SF and the plans to re-do most of the major housing projects in the city. But progress on those has been maddeningly slow. Same for the old Schlage lock factory parcel and the parcel further down Bayshore that’s technically in Brisbane but near Bayshore Caltrain. We need to hold these developers’ feet to the fire to get it all going.

          Also, we need to pressure the BOS to stop mandating parking minimums. We want space for people, not cars!

  • chompsky

    This is absolutely idiotic.

  • Patrick Ward

    Rents are skyrocketing because of height restrictions on buildings, not the google busses. If you want cheaper rent, build more housing.