VIDEO: Tech buses blocked hours before vote on bus stop fees

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Activist poet Tony Robles in the reflection of a tech bus, stopped by a protest earlier today
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Two tech buses were surrounded and blockaded by over 100 protesters earlier today, just hours before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors is set to vote on fees for private shuttle use of public bus stops. 

The protest was organized by Heart of the City, an alliance of many long time housing advocacy groups. The marchers met at UN Plaza at at 8:30am, then proceeded to Market and 8th, where they stopped the two buses that many identified as Facebook and Google buses, based on their destination signs. 

"The corporation that is employing this bus is responsible for the displacement of San Francisco tenants," said Erin McElroy, the head of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, to the crowd. "And we're not going to stand for that for that one more minute."

Techies on their buses worked on their laptops as the protesters swarmed around them. One tech worker even took a quick break to taunt activist and protester Tony Robles (as Robles waves a sign) from the window of his bus. It's in the video below. 

The SFMTA's today will vote on a pilot program that would charge private shuttles $1 per stop, per day for use of public bus stops, which are used by Muni. Mayor Ed Lee, SFMTA head Ed Reiskin and others have claimed that this falls in line with Proposition 218, which limits fees and taxes that municipalities can levy without going to the voters.

But that's is murky rationale for a number of reasons, as the SFMTA said that enforcement would be carried out by off-duty (overtime drawing) enforcement officers, and the idea of those officers overtime fees being fully paid by the $100,000 a year contributions of tech companies is questionable.

Equally questionable, the protesters said, is the idea that Google, Facebook, Genentech, Yahoo, and others would only pay about $100,000 a year for their private shuttles to use bus stops created for and maintained by a taxpayer-funded public transit system. 

Though the mayor and Google have reiterated the talking point that the shuttles take cars off the road, they also delay the already slowdown-plagued Muni system and push pedestrians onto dangerous streets as Muni jockeys for space with the private shuttles.

By 9:30, the SFPD arrived on the scene of the protest and blocked off the entrance to 8th street from Market. Shortly after, the protesters dispersed and continued marching to a Realtor's office, and finally City Hall. There were nearly 30 reporters at the bus blockade, but by the time the protesters reached City Hall, there were only a handful left. 

Comments

Stopping people getting to work is not going to achieve anything. I expect SFMTA will approve the deal and that will be it.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 1:59 pm

They are now trying to intimidate specific Google employees:

At 7am this morning, a group of people went to the home of Anthony Levandowski, a Google X developer. His house is a pompous, minimally decorated two story palace with stone lions guarding the door. After ringing his doorbell to alert him of the protest, a banner was held in front of his house that read "Google's Future Stops Here" and fliers about him were distributed around the neighborhood. The fliers detailed his work with the defense industry and his plans to develop luxury condos in Berkeley. The flier is attached below.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

last driveway they ever block

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:49 pm

This ain't Texas, try that here you'll be in a place where soap dropping will get you in trouble, and I bet you'd find the racial climate of the CDC equally heartwarming.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

a vehicle hits you. You are relying on the good nature of the driver.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 8:13 am

Tough guy. Probably don't even have a driveway.

Posted by Jake on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

"Oops, was that a protester lying down in the street?. I never saw him, officer".

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

artist Tony Robles was the one doing the taunting

what a freakin' joke this whole thing has become

keep fanning the flames JFR! keep turning off more and more voters! "Progressive" candidates can get stomped in more and more elections. You'd have think Team Progressive would have learned something after the last time they got their asses handed to them

Posted by guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:12 pm

Well yeah, the video (at about 1:55) does clearly show that the guy on the bus was ignoring the protesters until Robles starting waving a big yellow sign directly in his face.

But it doesn't come in the video until 1:55 and many people won't even click on the video so I think that we are fine to say that it was the Google guy who did the taunting.

I say stay with it since most people won't click through to see that it isn't true.

Keep up the great work SFBG!!!!

Posted by Joe on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

Re: "they also delay the already slowdown-plagued Muni system and push pedestrians onto dangerous streets as Muni jockeys for space with the private shuttles."

FWIW, part of the deal to allow use of the bus stops requires the private companies to avoid certain bus stops altogether and to yield to Muni buses if they arrive.

But it makes a good story to say that pedestrians are being pushed into dangerous streets so, lets go with it!!!! Love the imagery!

Great work!

Posted by Joe on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

... this is a vine video of Muni riders stepping out onto Park Presidio, one of the busier streets in San Francisco, to get between two tech shuttles. https://vine.co/v/btvAE6AvQ0Z
It's certainly not the only time Muni riders were pushed aside by tech buses. Sometimes it's not so bad, sometimes it's dangerous.  

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

But you only focus on those that carry people you ideologically are opposed to.

And that is why you are so dishonest and unprincipled and biased here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

... sure lots of vehicles cause problems in the city: bicyclists who haven't yet learned the rules of the road, skateboarders who skate where they're not allowed, all sorts of folks.... but the corporate shuttles are the only ones under vote by the SFMTA today, which is why we're writing about them. And yes, there are other corporate shuttles, but even hospital shuttles have specifically built places to pick up passengers at the hospitals. Golden Gate Transit, a seperate entity from Muni, has an agreement for partnered use of bus stops, much like people are asking for from the corporations that use private shuttles.

I thought that was obvious?

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:02 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

You're now an advocate who's cheerleading one side and a propagandist who's condemning the other. You're a disgrace and while you may be able to wring a bit of additional mileage out of this issue, as the vote today shows - you have nothing to show for your advocacy other than defeat after defeat after defeat.

Fuck. You.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 5:15 pm

It seeks to over-ride the democratic majority and instead impose it's own extremist agenda.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

...two days ago, SF Mag Web Editor Scott Lucas and I had a pretty productive discussion via Twitter about the Ellis Act and one of his web posts. We had a lot of disagreements, but I think we talked through them civililly and respectfully.

https://twitter.com/FitzTheReporter/status/425304960914305024

Usually I try to stay out of the trolling, and I can understand you disagreeing with the way we approach journalism, but the personal attacks are just not cool. These are policy issues, so stick to critiques of the policy, and the writing. 

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 11:09 am

right there is your bias. Why didn't you say "Ask the SFAA"?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 11:19 am

... no such thing as "no bias." This "you have a bias!" shouting is silly. There is only a difference between obvious viewpoints (which we prefer to be honest and brazen about) and disguised bias, which is what "objective" journalism is. Every day in crafting an article, you highlight certain viewpoints and ignore others, prioritize some information higher in your articles or lower, and ignore some viewpoints entirely. "Objective" journalism is just journalism that tries to sound neutral, while castrating efforts to come to the truth of a matter. Some are further along that spectrum than others. Some topics are more technical and easier to sound "objective" about, where as some policy discussions are harder to discern, with studies and policy debates on both sides with seemingly equal validity. That's when you have to choose which hard facts you highlight based on your research and your interviews, and even that process is a biased process, in the end. Every time someone shouts "there's a bias!" I roll my eyes, because anything anyone has written in any newspaper is rife with bias. It's a silly argument. 

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

SFTU and the SFAA, and then done the very best job they could of distilling their differing viewpoints into a balanced report.

You talked to SFTU but not SFAA, because you already knew how you wanted to frame this story, and that was a clear intent to prejudicially show one side of the story as somehow having more merit than the other, based on nothing more than your ideology

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 2:34 pm
Posted by Joe on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 12:21 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

Mayor Lee and the city bureaucracy have made it very clear through their actions on housing and transportation issues that the powerful corporations and their wealthier employees are the future of San Francisco. Some laggards still remain in SF who don't either work at local corporations in a high-paying position or work at one their many service providers like law firms or financial consultants. These laggards will be gone from the city soon enough. A tenant has to know by now that their current rental apartment is worth close to $1 million or more. That's too much wasted money on the table for low income tenants to think they can squat in a rental unit that's worth much more than its current rent stream.

175,000 rent-controlled units times $500,000 profit when sold as TICs to high-income workers is worth at least $87,500,000,000. That's money just laying on thee ground waiting to be picked up by an intrepid speculator. The $85+ billion estimate is a minimum since there are some choice rental units in the Haight, Castro, Inner Sunset, Marina, Dolores Heights, and North Beach where the profit will be way over $1,000,000 per unit. A 10-unit building at $1 million profit per unit is a very nice payday.

Many tenants voted for Ed Lee, notwithstanding his blatent lie that he would be a caretaker mayor only until the next election. Maybe the voters will pay more attention to their vote next time, athough I've yet to hear a credible candiate's name to challenge Mayor Lee's unspoken agenda to cleanse the city of lower and middle-income tenants.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 7:58 pm

Let's fire up the Ellis evictions and get this party moving!!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 8:18 pm

It's most helpful and revealing that you've honestly expressed what used to be an unspoken agenda wrapped in dishonesty and denial (i.e. "we don't want that" and "no, we're not trying to do that...why would you think that?"). But now, you and people like you don't even try to hide the agenda/your agenda anymore.

Posted by Guest on Wednesday on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 12:44 am

Bad law has created a massive arbitrage opportunity.

Tenants who pay a reasonable rent do not get Ellis'ed. Ellis is really God's way of letting a tenant know that he has had too good a deal for too long.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 8:15 am

Joe-
Is there any way that you can re-republish that Vine? It says right on it "286 days ago" which was long before the agreement on bus stops.

Can you possibly just submit it to Vine again so that we can more easily say that it is indicative of the current situation?

Keep up the great work!!!!!!

Posted by Joe on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

Like with Uber, it's only a matter of time until somebody forced into the intersection to get around Google buses gets hit by a car or bike and put in the hospital.

Posted by bassguitarhero on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

But you want to focus only on vehicles representing businesses that you personally do not like.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:17 pm
yup

an issue that is directly being addressed at the SFMTA meeting.

Posted by guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

OMG. Did you watch the public comments? It was like fighting against an infestation of prosperity destroying parasites.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

these losers. Bleating about wanting handouts and subsidies for the rest of their lives, and never thinking that maybe they could invest effort in their careers.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

The Muni driver broke the law by not waiting behind the shuttles. The Muni driver alone is responsible for putting riders at risk. Shuttles are a small problem that makes good press for the whiners who seem to make up a large % of residents of our fair city.

Posted by Richmondman on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

SFBG each day? Merely because I disagree with your politics?

I assume you would respect that, right?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

Watching how quickly Ed Lee, various tech companies, and comment trolls have come out in fighting stance to support tech buses shows just what a winning issue protestors have stumbled on.

When 40% of bus riders admit to being willing to move out of the city if they didn't have their buses, it's shown the real weak point behind Ed Lee's support system. If the buses are gone, gentrification will slow down enormously.

Posted by bassguitarhero on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

Why do you want these workers to leave? Prejudice?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

that 40% number isn't accurate, and this isn't the first misinformation you've posted on this topic. can we at least have an honest debate?

and, for the record, the only thing in the world worse than a drum solo, is a bass solo.

Posted by guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

The corporate buses make it very easy to displace local residents. Co-workers start talking about how much money they made on their TIC and eveyone else at their company wants to get in on the action. More evictions, more TICs, more Silicon Valley employees in the city and more evictions.

But remember, many tenants voted for Ed Lee. Whether they'lll still be around in 2015 to vote against him is another matter since TIC conversions continue briskly and displaced tenants will be strewn to the wind far from the shores of SF when the eviction notice finally comes. Waking up each day and wondering if the eviciton notice will be in the afternoon mail is not the best way to start each morning.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

I give rent control no more than 15 years.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 8:16 am

The very same protesters are the people behind the neighborhood blight
They do nothing for their own local neighborhoods except to contribute to the blight !
and then blame everyone else for having jobs they could never have because it requires you to actually work and participate and not whine about life, work at deadend jobs and sit in Dolores park all day being stoned Why not protest school buses
and the Academy of Art shuttles, or the Senior Shuttles

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

no voluntary work, no charitable donations, just whining.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

I actually want to know how many of these protesters actually LIVE in San Francisco. Remember the activist who made the fake video about the Google employee? He lives, and works, in Oakland. Nudist activist Gypsy Taub? Lives, and doesn't work, in Berkeley. Why don't they protest in front of Google? Or Apple? Cause they know other cities won't tolerate their bullshit. Well, that and they'd look pretty hypocritical Tweeting and Googling on their IPhones, Chromebooks, and IPads.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 11:07 pm

Cost the City over 10,000 affordable entry level rentals and flooded the streets with buses and shuttles- and no one was outraged at all. The loss of working class entry level housing undermined the City and created the foundation of the current crisis. No one is protesting the million dollar classic cars displayed on Van Ness that were purchased renting out dorm beds to AArt students. Google workers did not create the housing crisis in SF- failure of San Franciscans to protect and invest in their own housing is a much bigger factor.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:38 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

It's not anymore. And i've lived in this city for decades, since 1981 non-stop, and before that sometimes. I have a life here, not in Oakland. Let the newcomers move there, if they prefer it. They have no roots in my city.

Posted by Guest ethan davidson on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

It's a real option for people like you who lack the fiscal power to live in the world's favorite city.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 8:12 am

Cost the City over 10,000 affordable entry level rentals and flooded the streets with buses and shuttles- and no one was outraged at all. The loss of working class entry level housing undermined the City and created the foundation of the current crisis. No one is protesting the million dollar classic cars displayed on Van Ness that were purchased renting out dorm beds to AArt students. Google workers did not create the housing crisis in SF- failure of San Franciscans to protect and invest in their own housing is a much bigger factor.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

FACTS: the amount of people using these buses to travel out of the city to their jobs is insignificant, compared to the amount of people coming into the city for their jobs.
To these protesters get a job, better still get a life.

Posted by davidinSF on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

Rather than get some skills that would help them compete, they'd rather bleat and whine.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

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