Google buses, library targets the homeless, and Kelly takes on Cohen in D10
Google bus plan challenged
San Francisco activists and labor filed an appeal of the controversial commuter shuttle (aka, the Google buses) pilot program with the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 19, alleging it was pushed through without a proper environmental review.
The appeal was filed by a coalition of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, SEIU 1021, The League of Pissed Off Voters, and Sara Shortt of the Housing Rights Committee.
The shuttles, mostly to Silicon Valley tech firms, pick up passengers at Muni bus stops. The use of public bus stops would incur a $271 fine for private autos, and often do, but the shuttles have largely received a free pass from the city. Last month, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved a pilot plan hatched behind closed doors that allows use of 200 bus stops by the private shuttles, charging only $1 per stop, per day.
The appeal alleges that the program needed review under the California Environmental Quality Act, which asks for projects to be analyzed for, among other things, land use, housing, and public health impacts.
"CEQA actually identifies displacement as an environmental impact," attorney Richard Drury, who filed the appeal on behalf of the coalition, told us. "Almost no one knows that. Honestly I didn't know that, until I started researching all of this."
If the Board of Supervisors doesn't back the appeal, there may be a court battle on the environmental impact of the shuttle stops, which increase rents and home prices nearby.
Paul Rose, spokesperson for the SFMTA, responded to the complaint in an email to the Guardian.
"We developed this pilot proposal to help ensure the most efficient transportation network possible by reducing Muni delays and further reducing congestion on our roadways," Rose wrote. "We are confident that the CEQA clearance is appropriate and will be upheld." (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez)
Library cracks down on the homeless
The way homeless residents are treated in San Francisco has come under scrutiny lately, with recent reports of homeless individuals being sprayed with hoses by Department of Public Works staff who started doing early-morning sidewalk cleanings nearby Twitter's mid-Market headquarters.
This week, much discussion has been focused on homeless individuals' use of the city's Main Library — and while library administrators say they are just trying to make the facility safe and enjoyable for everyone, advocates have voiced concern that the homeless are being unfairly targeted.
"We want people to use the library from all walks of life," library spokesperson Michelle Jeffers told the Guardian, saying a new set of proposed policies is not meant to be directed at homeless people in particular.
But it's difficult to imagine who else would be bathing in the restrooms, for instance, or bringing a shopping cart into the library.
There is even a line in the code of conduct policy that forbids emitting "strong or pervasive odors." While the policy notes that this could mean perfume, it could also mean body odor.
At a recent meeting, the San Francisco Library Commission considered bulking up security staff and imposing stricter penalties for these violations and others, such as sleeping in the library, asking for money, or bringing carts or luggage into the building.
Under proposed revisions to the library's "Code of Conduct," patrons could face tougher penalties for such offenses. (Rebecca Bowe)
Kelly runs in D10