Friday, February 28, 2014

Google’s Muni gift won’t stop appeal against S.F. commuter shuttle program

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Google’s announcement of a $6.8 million gift Thursday to support free Muni for low- and moderate-income youths for the next two years was met with praise from city officials and program advocates.

But the tech giant, along with companies such as Genentech and the Academy of Art University, will continue to face a challenge over commuter shuttles from some advocates and labor leaders. They have filed an appeal of The City’s determination that a full environmental review under state law is not required for the pilot program, which will charge $1 per stop per day to use Muni stops over an 18-month period.
In a statement to media outlets Thursday, a Google representative said, “San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don’t pay more to use city bus stops. So we’ll continue to work with The City on these fees, and in the meantime will fund Muni passes for low-income students for the next two years.”

But former Supervisor Chris Daly, who now works as the political director for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, city government’s largest labor union, said this morning that “our CEQA appeal is not about money. I don’t know if they get that or not.”

In other words, the California Environmental Quality Act appeal is still on. Daly indicated that if the Board of Supervisor rejects the appeal, it is likely the matter will ultimately be settled in court.

Daly brought up everything from cancer links with the bio-diesel particulate matter emitted by the corporate shuttles to social impacts on neighborhoods like the Mission district for reasons a full environmental review is warranted. It should make for an interesting debate April 1, when the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the appeal.

Between now and then, there may be additional Google bus protests as well. Erin McElroy, the director of the San Francisco Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, who has organized shuttle protests, said the demonstrations will likely continue until the full impacts are addressed.

In January, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors approved the pilot program for corporate shuttles.

The vote came after years of debate over how to regulate them amid mounting complaints from residents feeling their impacts on public transit, bicyclists and traffic congestion.

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