Giant company wants to squeeze out locals
Indeed, Sharabi said, one of the most aggravating parts of this debate is that the day after airport staff received SuperShuttle's letter, it led to a long discussion at the Airport Commission. He said his and other yellow zone companies have been trying for years to get the commission and staff to listen to their complaints of unequal treatment.
"They don't want to listen to us," Sharabi said. "They have decided that they want SuperShuttle here, and not us. And they haven't given us a reason why.
"We've been sending letters and doing proposals and lots of work for years," he added. "And they have not only never cared for us, they have never forwarded anything to the commission," Sharabi said.
In exasperation, the eight yellow zone companies sent a response letter directly to the Airport Commission outlining their position. "For nearly two decades a majority of companies — many that have been around much longer than SuperShuttle — have sent letters to SFO and the commission that have been received with little or no interest," it stated. The letter went on to ask the commission to consider giving all 11 companies equal time at the curb.
A MATTER OF SURVIVAL
Sharabi and Sloan-Zayotti both point out that SuperShuttle hired Platinum Advisors, a well-known local lobbying firm. Curwood confirmed that SuperShuttle has hired the company, adding that it's common for businesses dealing with the city to hire lobbyists. (Indeed, yellow zone companies have a lobbyist of their own.) He said SuperShuttle's proposal will benefit passengers, but that it is ultimately up to the commissioners and airport staff.
"The system is right now catering to the small companies to ensure their survival rather than catering to the public," Curwood said. "[The letter is] not saying 'I want to kick everyone out of business,' it's saying that these are serious issues our customers say they face and proposing a way to put standards in place that will change it."
"In all honesty, we understand what SuperShuttle is doing — and that's reducing the competition for them," Sharabi said. "It's business, right? But what's not right is that unelected officials get to make decisions that affect small business owners like us without having to answer to the public. That right there is the problem."
"I do not know where that's coming from," said Michael McCarron, director of the SFO Bureau of Community Affairs. "We listen to everyone. We can't make everyone happy, but we try to listen to everyone and work out the best possible arrangements for all the operators."
Sharabi disagreed. "Everybody drops the line 'You know we support the local people.' But it couldn't be further from the truth."