The Google bus program is in trouble

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

New political reality on the board means the days of giving everything away to the tech industry may be over (for now)

The Google bus program is in a bit of trouble. And that reflects a significant new dynamic on the Board of Supervisors.

The supes were supposed to vote today on an appeal of the city’s decision that a permanent tech-shuttle program needs no environmental review. That’s a complex legal issue, but it involves a huge set of political questions: Did the city get the best deal possible from the tech and shuttle companies? Are the buses causing displacement, and should that be part of the mitigation? Are there too many buses, and is the city regulating them tightly enough?

Instead, Sups. David Campos and Norman Yee moved to continue the appeal for two weeks, so that all the stakeholders can have a chance to meet and see if they can work something out.

These sorts of continuances are pretty standard, and it’s unusual for anyone to oppose a request for extra time to negotiate an appeal.

There’s a lot of evidence that the tech shuttles do, indeed, drive up housing costs. Even so, Campos noted that “none of us here are saying the shuttles should go away.” The question, as a pilot program becomes permanent, is whether there are strong enough regulations, whether the shuttle operators are paying their fair share to use Muni stops, and whether the plan that the Municipal Transportation Agency has put forward is the right one.

Sup. Eric Mar said that he wants to see the city “mitigate the horrible impacts of too many shuttles.”.

In 2016, if the Google buses want to operate in the city, they’ll have to follow some real rules. I suspect this means Airbnb will be facing a similar dynamic. The days of tech-at-all costs are coming to an end. For now… (more)