‘Google Bus’ future still uncertain

The future of the “Google Bus” in San Francisco remains uncertain as the Board of Supervisors postponed a decision for two weeks over making permanent a commuter shuttle program which has been in place as an 18­-month pilot.

In addition to the Google Bus issue, Tuesday’s meeting also included the passing of a resolution to remember Mario Woods, who died after being shot by police. The board also discussed a resolution to seek reimbursement for costs associated with the Super Bowl City.

The board was scheduled to vote Tuesday on an appeal under the California Environmental Quality Act, arguing that the commuter shuttle program should have a full environmental review.

The appeal was filed by SEIU 1021, a union with 6,000 members and several residents.

“SEIU is concerned that its members are being forced out of The City in part as a result of commuter shuttles,” the appeal said. “SEIU 1021 is also concerned that its members are being exposed to air pollution, pedestrian and bicycle safety risks, and other environmental impacts as a result of the Shuttle Project.” The same group also has a lawsuit over the issue.

The board voted 9­-2 to continue the debate until Feb. 9, when there will be negotiations between the two sides to reach a possible compromise. It appeared there were six votes to approve the appeal, which was used as leverage to prompt talks of a compromise.

The shuttles are used by some 8,000 residents, many of whom travel to tech companies in Silicon Valley.

Supervisors Katy Tang and Scott Wiener opposed the postponement. The current pilot program expires Feb. 1, but city officials say it can be extended to give them more time to consider the matter.

Wiener, who voiced his support of a permanent shuttle program, expressed concerns about how the two­-week delay would result in an overly restrictive program.

“From what I’ve been hearing in terms of what the demands are, if they are accepted, [it] would make this shuttle system anything but stronger or robust. It would reduce the number of stops significantly,” Wiener said. Other demands he said was a housing study to assess impacts shuttles have on housing.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who supported the continuance, said, “If we do our jobs right we will not only dispense with the CEQA appeal we might actually be able to settle the litigation and forgo future litigation,” Peskin said. “I for one do not think that we are going to put the Darth Vader buses back in the genie bottle.”

Supervisor David Campos said that “the public wants to support this program but it also wants it to be properly regulated.” Campos added that Wiener was “exaggerating what’s going to happen — the sky is not going to fall.”

MARIO WOODS

July 22 has become Mario Woods Remembrance Day after the board unanimously approved a resolution introduced by Campos. It is to honor the 26­-year-­old black man who was fatally shot Dec. 2 in the Bayview by five police officers. The incident has led to the board and the mayor calling for a federal probe of the killing and department, repeated calls for the firing of Chief Greg Suhr and multiple efforts to reform the Police Department.

The Police Officers Association opposed the resolution.

“Everyone can’t be bullied. I have to be his voice,” said Gwen Woods, Mario Woods’ mother, during the meeting. “Our brothers should not be scared to be pulled over by the officers,” she said.

Campos said “not only are we honoring the memory of Mario Woods but we are honoring all the people that have been impacted by this lack of trust of our Police Department.”

SUPER BOWL 50

The board on Tuesday did not take
an official position on Super Bowl 50 costs. A resolution from supervisors Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin, John Avalos and David Campos calling on Mayor Ed Lee to seek reimbursement from the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee for the costs The City will incur for hosting a weeklong event leading up to the Super Bowl was sent to committee by Supervisor Mark
Farrell.

Those supervisors have criticized the deal as cost estimates have continued to escalate, putting the total for impacts for Muni, police and other services at nearly $5 million.

During the monthly “question time” at the board, the mayor defended the deal. “Every city that’s hosted the Super Bowl has been eager not only to host it but to have it back,” Lee said. “Yes, there are some hassles. But the positive economic impact as measured after the game totals in hundreds of millions of dollars.”

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