SF Announces Plan to Legalize Tech Buses, Protesters Remain Skeptical

Following a year of roaring criticism of tech buses, ranging from Rebecca Solnit's “alien overlord” essay to December's blockades, Mayor Lee and SFMTA today laid out a proposal to legitimize the shuttles that have been accused of illegally using Muni stops and enabling exorbitant rent increases.

“These shuttles provide more than 35,000 boardings per day in San Francisco, eliminating at least 45 million vehicle miles traveled and 761,000 metric tons of carbon every year from the region’s roads and air,” SFMTA wrote in a press release.

The release went on to detail the agency's 18-month pilot program for the shuttles, which will be voted on by the MTA Board on January 21st:

  • Charging a daily fee based on the number of stops that a shuttle provider or employer makes in order to fully cover the SFMTA’s cost of administering and enforcing the program and includes private investment to improve select stops. Fees are estimated to raise tens of thousands of dollars monthly to the largest transportation providers.
  • Approval of 200 bus stops (out of more than 2,500 total in the Muni system) to be used by providers;
  • Private shuttle providers will pay to use Muni bus zones, based on a per stop, per day, cost recovery schedule. Due to Proposition 218, the SFMTA cannot create a fee structure that goes beyond the cost to provide such a service or policy;
  • Providers would operate in accordance to agreed-upon guidelines, such as yielding to Muni and pulling to the front of the zone making more room for other vehicles, and avoiding steep and narrow streets;
  • The Agency would enforce these rules to ensure only participating companies are using shared zones. It will be illegal to use all other bus zones;
  • Each commuter shuttle will be issued a unique identification placard so enforcement personnel can easily identify vehicles; and
  • Providers would share data with SFMTA to ensure that location information is available for complaint follow-up, enforcement and to support the agency’s transportation system management.

SFMTA didn't detail how much the shuttles will be charged, but reporter Sarah G McBride tweeted it would be “around $100k a year”—far shorter than the $1 billion protesters were demanding last month.

However, the agency promised some community input into the routing of buses, writing “[we] will ask shuttle providers to propose stops for inclusion into the bus zone network and will ask San Francisco residents for their input to determine specific bus zones that can be used.”

The Housing Rights Committee issued a press release in anticipation of the Mayor's announcement, in which the group reiterated their demands that “the [tech] industry must contribute significantly for its impacts on local infrastructure and neighborhoods.”

“We are prepared to be demand more of City Hall if it appears that Mayor Lee's plan is not realistically aggressive enough to address the concerns of poor, working, and middle-class San Franciscans,” wrote Eviction Free San Francisco organizer Jennifer Cust. “The tech industry has fueled soaring rents and accompanying evictions that have uprooted longtime residents, families, artists, teachers, and many others. The industry must step up and contribute to help San Francisco retain its diversity, culture, and affordability.”

We'll update as this story develops.

UPDATE 4:15pm: Reuter's reporter Sarah G McBride further clarified the $100k/year amount, tweeting that companies with shuttles will pay “around $100k each for a total of about $1.5 million over 18 month pilot program.”

[Illustration by Lincoln Smith]

Comments (169)

Can someone give me the TL;DR version of prop 218? Is it a state prop? City law? Does it mean the city would have to change state law to get the “1 billion” that the demonstrators want? thx.

I want public input to be considered in regards to which stops they get to use. 24th street is WAY too thin in the mission for these things to turn onto and drive down.

State law. I haven’t read much on it, but according to this PDF, the “Restriction on Use of Fees” is what blocks higher amounts.


But KevMo, why include and continue to validate these “protesters” by adding: “far shorter than the $1 billion protesters were demanding last month”. We all know that math is completely flawed. Not to say the MTA’s numbers aren’t 100% either but come on.

So, to all your “protestors” out there, sharpen your pencils and start putting together a logical argument against this. Make sure its comprehensive. Blocking buses and throwing bricks is not going to get you anything.

Can’t we just get along?

1 BILLION DOLLARS?!? Jesus. What a bunch of asshats.

I don’t feel reporting their demands necessarily validates them, rather, contextualizes why they might find the Mayor’s and SFMTA’s proposal unsatisfying.

The $1 billion is obviously inflated, as it was calculated by the cost of levying a $271 fine per illegal use of a Muni stop.

I think a more convincing number (now that we have solid ridership numbers) could be based on Muni fares. 35,000 rides a day * 260 business days = 9.1 million trips per year. Muni charges $2 a ride, so that’s $18.2m/year.

I’m not necessarily saying that’s what should be charged (as there are plenty of counter arguments that could be made against that amount, never mind the state law that the SFMTA release mentions), but that figure is at least plausible.

Nevertheless, progress!: agreed.

Except the average MUNI ride is somewhere in the low, single digits of mileage. A Caltrain 3-zone ride is about $7 or $63.7 million.

You’re comparing apples and oranges.

I know.

Asking them to pay the equivalent of a muni ride will never happen. Muni fares need to cover all of their operating expenses. The operating expenses with regard to the tech buses are already covered by the companies. They’re only going to pay a fee for the privilege of stopping at the bus stops.

KevMo – I can’t believe we agree on something. Nevertheless, progress is progress.

For the ongoing haters out there, remember that the folks these companies are shuttling around represent a decent chunk of money for not just rent (OMG!) but they’re decent spenders at restaurants (gasp!) and shops (gasp!)

Lastly, I don’t know anyone who would rather WALK to work than to take a bus, subway, anything that takes a full hour. People want to live in this city. Period. You can try and pretend its YOURS or how it USED TO BE but this is just way SF is: ever changing.

Big hugs and kisses to all you dickheads! Mwah!

Lastly, I don’t know anyone who would rather WALK to work than to take a bus, subway, anything that takes a full hour.

I quit my job (in tech) in September in part because my commute was 90+ minutes long. I refused to consider any new opening that was more than 30 minutes away from my house.

I moved back to Seattle, taking a 50% pay cut, for a 20-minute commute and not constantly feeling like I was ruining the neighborhood.

Thanks Colin.  However, you sound like one of the good guys who shouldn’t be forced out of the city.

Progress ONLY came after things got messy i.e. bus blocking and brick throwing after logically arguing didn’t work.

The busses SHOULD be paying something and this is a start. It shouldn’t be encouraged that they roam the San Francisco city streets at will encouraging commuting like they are which is contributing to the housing crisis. If companies like Google and Facebook etc etc etc want to provide these services, it shouldn’t be at the expense of the city, the deterioration of the city streets or it’s displaced inhabitants. These commuter busses should have to follow traffic laws which include not stopping unchecked and using city bus stops, just like the rest of us. Plain and simple.


Because there was a study started last year doesn’t mean that this issue didn’t hit critical mass with all the publicity around the bus protests.

2nd, public transportation is the issue at hand here. One of the main issues with the protesters is that…fuck it, just going to cut and paste…this is getting tiring:

Normally people who don’t have a car move close to their work or take public transportation like any regular Joe or Jane.

And generally in shuttle situations the city has some sort of regulation over these shuttles and the companies who provide the shuttles pay a fee to use the city streets. And non Muni vehicles don’t get a pass on breaking traffic laws i.e. stopping at MUNI bus stops without repercussion.

The reason people are pissed is that these shuttles are CONTRIBUTING to the housing crisis WHILE they are getting a free pass from breaking basic traffic laws that anyone else would be fined 300-400$ bucks if they broke AS they plow through the city streets free of charge.

I hate to break to you but our government doesn’t turn shit around that quickly. There’s no fucking way a protest a month ago created this. Period.

“Normally people who don’t have a car move close to their work or take public transportation”. Isn’t great how things can change? And even get better? Ok, so if these shuttles were open to everyone would you finally shut the fuck up?

Not at the expense of this city that I love. Nope.

I get that you “noobs” are in for the gold rush and while I’m doing just fine , have a great apartment and a decent life but it’s not all about every man (or woman) for themselves for most of us who have been here for a long time. This city used to be a city full of people who cared about one another, the community as a whole and the culture we felt fortunate to be a part of. It was something special and I get that that’s gone but I don’t have to like it nor not speak my piece on it. Part of what I’m lamenting is the current greed fueled, elitist attitude of kill or be killed, too bad for you grandma with rent control or that person who has a business that is being forced out a lot of times illegally. Who cares if I have to see 8 fucking Google busses cruising down Valencia at 5:15 in a 3 block radius, because you fucking deserve to live here and people who don’t want to sit in front of a computer for hours and hours a day, commute for even more hours a day should just get the fuck out. Never mind the traffic LAWS or the RENTAL LAWS because they apparently don’t apply to people or businesses that can squeak by our shady politicians.

Like I said, I’m fine. It doesn’t mean I won’t stop caring about what this city is being subjected to.

Absolutely heartbreaking attitudes from plenty of you, though I know first hand that all tech people don’t think this way because I have quite a few friends in the industry. This isn’t an us vs them issue, it’s a poor city planning issue coupled with a greed and inhumanity issue from some seriously shitty people.

I can’t wait until the new crop of kids come through who work faster and cheaper and you are stuck with a mortgage you can’t afford. Or maybe you go through a break-up or divorce and need to find a new place and can’t and when you express concern, despair or concern you get told to deal with it and GTFO by someone as callous as you. When your mom or grandma get forced out of their homes because someone like you decides that you are above the law and that you don’t like the laws set in place to protect the vulnerable and people that have invested into the city prior to your arrival in ways that you probably will never be able to comprehend.

Just ugh.

I see this as completely reversed, it’s people like you who love to reminisce of days gone by that hold this city up.

Why can’t I be happy with taking cars off the road? Isn’t it good that the city is paying attention to this? Why can’t we move forward? Must be just keep bitching?

Quit looking over your shoulder. Bah! Humbug!

“Why can’t I be happy with taking cars off the road?”
A moot point since CalTrain already did this.

Oh right. Case closed.


When the new crop of kids come in, hopefully we’ll have repaired the damage you people have done for so long by actually building some new housing so people other than 30-year-rent-controlled residents and billionaires will actually get to live here, instead of insisting that NO ONE WILL EVER TOUCH OUR BELOVED CITY IN ANY WAY EVER EVER EVER THIS CITY WILL BE A TOMB TO MY MISSPENT YOUTH GODDAMN IT.

Winner of thread.


“Never mind the traffic LAWS or the RENTAL LAWS “

Rental laws? LOL. Oh, please do explain how people working for tech companies are violating rental laws. By signing a lease? Talk to landlords if you’re pissed about the Ellis Act - Google/Facebook/etc. have fuck-all to do with that. And just be fucking honest about what really pisses you off here: the thought of having to share the city you viewed as your own little treehouse club with NERRRRRRRDS. Oh, the horrors.


Yeah, people in tech industry never buy houses.

What was I thinking?

Most of the shuttle riders you’re whining about don’t own, they rent.

It’s not about the shuttle riders it’s about the shuttle busses, the impact on the housing crisis in San Francisco, the using the city streets sans fee etc etc etc.

I feel like a broken fucking record…

And by the way, posting anonymously and throwing your best (?) insult inspired by paranoia and putting words in my mouth is petty and shallow.

Annie, move on. It’ll be ok. *pat on the back*

LOL, anonymous, unlike “Annie”. Ok, I’ll go by my real name, just like you. Prove it’s not.

This one goes out to Annie:

…people who don’t want to sit in front of a computer for hours and hours a day, commute for even more hours a day should just get the fuck out
I take your dripping sarcasm to imply the reverse, that people who do “sit in front of a computer” somehow don’t deserve to live in SF and should therefore, “get the fuck out.” Oh, really? People can work in whatever industry they like—fuck you very much for your lofty judgments— and, with the money they earn, they can rent or buy if they so choose. And if they find that they need to commute 30+ miles to earn the salary necessary to rent or buy what they like, they are allowed to do that, too. Sorry, jealous slackers like you have no say in it. If you don’t like it, eat a bag of dicks. Or, better still, you get the fuck out. Face it: if you could have bought into the housing market when it made sense to do so, you would have. I’m sure hanging out and not worrying about tomorrow was way more fun than scraping and saving over the years like I did. But now, here you are, feeling disenfranchised and pissed off at people who don’t deserve your misdirected anger, while holding on tightly with both hands to a rent-controlled apartment that you feel is your right to squat in for all eternity. And we’re the entitled ones? Wow, whatever.

I get that you “noobs” are in for the gold rush
Gold rush? Fuck you, you elitist piece of shit. I’ve lived here for 13 years. Yeah, yeah—I know you’ve been here longer (OMG, since 1996!) but fuck you for assuming that everyone who works in tech is some Johnny-come-lately who doesn’t deserve to share the sidewalk with you. Most of us are San Francisco residents first and what we do for a living comes a distant second. Some of us are skilled and can command a decent wage within a specialized field. Some of us aren’t. I, for one, refuse to feel guilty for what I’ve earned—and, believe me, it was hard-earned. And while we’re on the subject—those big-paycheck-earning 22-year old “noobs” that you loathe so much? Yeah, they’re new to the area. So what? They don’t deserve to hang out at Dolores Park because they weren’t around when John Dwyer took a piss there? Fuck you. Generally speaking, they’re smart, they work hard, and they contribute by slaving away on the tools people like you take for granted. Seriously, do you think elves make what you see on the internet? On your phone? They earn every fucking cent. Assholes like you want it both ways: you mock and deride tech professionals for working insane hours while you curse us for the money we earn doing it and then you deign to tell us where we “should” live or not. Consider my middle finger extended.

Normally people who don’t have a car move close to their work or take public transportation like any regular Joe or Jane.
Nope. You couldn’t be more wrong. Like most people hanging out in the peanut gallery, you love commenting on an industry that you know next to nothing about. Clearly, you know no Joes or Janes that work in the tech sector. For a lot of us, it came down to simple math: if I have the choice of making $80,000 in the city and $120,000 in the peninsula and all I have to do is drive a few miles to get it, you can bet your ass I will get behind the wheel. Granted, the delta between salaries in SF and in the peninsula is no longer what it was but, for a time, particularly during the tech recovery (2002-2006), if you wanted to make decent money, you had to head south. And so I did. I sucked it up, invested in my future, and bought a used Toyota Tercel to make the commute. Yeah, sure—I took Caltrain occasionally, but, mostly, I wanted the flexibility of coming and going as I pleased, so I drove 90% of the time. More importantly, I made the decision to live in SF and commute to work because I loved it here and decided that the compromise was worth it. Fuck you for telling me that I should have moved south to make room for you and your PBR-guzzling, idiot friends. I wanted to buy a place and so I did that, too—commuting to the south bay made that possible. I still work in tech and I still commute. The only difference is that I now ride a company bus to get to work. Would you rather I get in my car and hit the 101? Because I still have that Tercel. Would that make you feel better?

I know first hand that all tech people don’t think this way because I have quite a few friends in the industry…
I call bullshit. If you truly have any “friends” that work in the tech sector—and, if so, I assume these “friends” have heard your uninterrupted stream of “they should just get the fuck out” rhetoric ad nauseum at this point—never doubt how much they hate you.

It comes down - like so many issues in this city - to rent control. A large number of residents only see economic improvement as a threat to their subsidized lifestyles. They bitch and moan while the world passes them by. Meanwhile, their landlords are incentivized to find ways to evict them.

Fucking. Beauty. Amen, brother.

Listen, Geoff in your selective quoting, purposely distorting my words and/or meaning. Or just being massively thick brained, dug in with your judgments…

My point was that not everyone wants to do jobs like yours or have a commute like yours, not that your job is something better or worse than anyone else’s just that FORTUNATELY for you, for the time being, not everyone can’t do it. What I run up against are people like you who think that because you are such a unique and special flower of coding awesomeness, have lofty salaries then fuck you, get out. Then do everything that you can to turn it around on people like me, who don’t want to code, commute, or both because we are calling out injustices based on actual laws. And because so I’m an asshole, loser, or whatever else you’ve called me above. Classy

This is a tech city and has for years and years but what is going on in the city and the attitude of kill or be killed is what is killing it here for many of us. Look, I chose something different for my life, but you speak above as if you know me and make rash, stereo-typical judgments, that makes me align you with the Peter Shih, Greg Gopman and now Bryan Goldberg’s in our midst. Is that who you are? Sure are sounding like it above. Last name, please?

And not that it’s any of your business but it’s just not made sense, personally for me to buy. From the 89 (yes, I’ve been here that long) earthquake, to the 1st dot.com bust, to the Bush War-Recession years onto the recent Wall Street bullshit, I’m not married and it has never made sense to get into a mortgage that I didn’t trust I could handle on my own, when it might have made sense to buy. And yes, I missed the boat on that. Yeah, I know, what a loser. I deserve to leave a city I’ve lived in happily for 25 years, where a lot of my friends live in who work in various industries, where I have a financial investment into a local business that has been around this city for 61 years. Lots of my friends are tech workers who are worried about keeping their jobs as this new crop of younger faster kids arrive who will work for a lot cheaper and aren’t worried about where their children’s meals are going to come from. Lots of these friends with families and mortgages wondering what makes the most sense to do with regards to what is going on in San Francisco. Some of my friends are artists and musicians that are getting crushed out, but according to you, they are undeserving so we probably shouldn’t discuss what that means to San Francisco. I mean, who around here likes going to restaurants and bars, or getting a fancy pastry at a local bakery, or a coffee before you go hang out a park. No one needs teachers or firemen, or security guards, or street sweepers, or janitors or people to work in the hospitals. These are genuine concerns of mine. I have lots of friends who rent homes who also are business owners wondering if and when the landlord might sell their building, because they too, missed the boat on buying. Or more generally the case that it’s not really made any real sense to do so in this city and now more than ever it doesn’t at all.

Regardless of your judgments and disgusting, condescending attitude for me it’s not about GTFO for me but you’ve made it clear that’s how many of you seem to feel. You’ve chosen your life and I’ve chosen mine. I don’t think it’s right that the Google buses plowing freely through the city unchecked and like it or not, that’s not a personal affront to you. What you are saying is that because you make xxx amount of money that it’s your right to have whatever company that you work for use the city streets, ignore traffic rules without any contribution to San Francisco’s infrastructure? You are entitled to that opinion, if so, as I am mine. I care for this city and I see it to becoming an ugly, greedy, inhumane and sad.

To address a few of your insane, way off base, paranoid, hysterical delusions:

What are you talking about regarding Dolores park? Mocking and deriding people who work desk jobs that I don’t want to do? Get it into your thick, insecure, paranoid scull that no one is saying what you do is bad or pointless, just that not everyone wants to do it. Again, fortunately for you that everyone doesn’t want to do it! I get the self-important tone of your post(s?) and I’m glad you are such a necessary component in the cog of the invention of internet, google, facebook, yahoo or wherever it is you work, thank you. You’ve invented a great thing that I’m eternally grateful, genuinely no ungrateful sarcasm here. I guess I should bow down and thank you and absolve you and your commuter busses of abiding by laws the rest of us have to? Is the general sentiment of figure out a way to do this job, or make the kind of money that you do or get out? Do you see how contradictory that you are coming across? I don’t have any problems with any “noobs” other than the fact that what is going on in the city is making it impossible for non-white collar workers to live here. Non-white collar is not a bad word, just a description, just in case you want to try to turn that on me as well. In a city that I love, that I will argue needs non-white collar workers to function. Someone in the thread asked why San Francisco couldn’t survive with only white-collar workers, I find myself hoping that was a joke.

NORMALLY people without cars (I was answering a response to someone who said that some people don’t have cars, by the way) either live near their work or they take public transportation. NO? NORMALLY companies don’t provide transportation for employees en masse (300+ busses per day, many of them nearly empty). NO? Am I high? Oh wait; maybe I’m hammered on PBR right now sitting in Dolores park, hoarding it with my loser friends because I’ve lived here since before it was a park. You got me. That’s what I do all day. Except I haven’t been to Dolores Park in years not because it’s changed, not because I don’t like it or who hangs out there now or used to, mainly because I don’t have time to sit in a park and enjoy this beautiful city that I love as leisurely as I’d like. Yep, I’m working. Yep, it’s behind a computer, it’s just not in a cubicle, and it’s not miles south. No judgments here, I’m not saying my choices are better than yours (like you are) we just have different priorities. I’m glad you have a job that you love that causes you no stress, anxiety, paranoia or arrogance.

Many of the tech industry friends that I have that have lived in this city for a while feel pretty much the same way I do, that things are out of control and it’s not the city they used to love. Changes happen, I accept that, but the way the government has sold out the families, the elderly, the artists, the blue collar workers, the teachers, the restaurant industry i.e. my friends is disheartening. Doesn’t mean we have to like it nor do we have to not talk about not liking it because it makes people like you uncomfortable. Deal with it.

Good talk.

Sounds like you’re pretty busy today, Annie.

Geoff - you are my hero, for now and always.

And do you know what we’re doing “sitting in front of a computer”? Of course you don’t. Let me spell it out for you:

We build infrastructure and tools like the one you are using right now, to express opinions.
We build the social tools that enable you to find your friends and, yes, promote your bands
We enable peer-to-peer transactions. Ever sold anything on eBay? Bought anything on craigslist? Use a fucking bank? Yep.
We make it possible for you to have the equivalent of a desktop computer in your pocket
We design software that makes collaboration and the posting of creative endeavors possible

We don’t disrespect the efforts or endeavors of the creative population. Why do you demean and insult ours and accuse us of producing nothing. We’re not drones, you stupid fuck—we make things, just like you. They’re just different things. And if you weren’t an uneducated bar manager/groupie who aspired to nothing but riding the coattails of people more talented than yourself, maybe you’d be capable of recognizing that.

Seconded. Fuck you elitist pricks who think you’re too good to share your city with newcomers.

I love you two!

The fact that engineering is often more art than science is often overlooked.

Easy there, chopper. No one said you are doing anything. What’s with all the paranoia from you guys?

I said, some people don’t want to sit in front of their computers all day and commute for hours. No one (me) said you don’t get shit done.

Can you read?

Uneducated bar manager/groupie. Riding the coattails of people more talented. How about you not post anonymously, coward?

That is… no one said you AREN’T doing anything with your hours and hours behind a computer and the hours of commute. Just that some people don’t want to do that job and are suddenly not worthy of San Francisco so they should just shut the fuck up get the fuck out, according to a decent portion of the people now residing in the city. More paranoia and more persecution complex. Who are you people?

Anyway, feel free to let me know who you are are then talk this shit.

Fuck you, loser. And you know what, we have friends in common. You’ve actually seen me before, you just didn’t know that you’ve been insulting me to my face for fucking months talking about all the supposed bullshit you and your “artist” friends are doing while me and my “commuter dick types” are ruining your closed-off hipster Mission party. You know what? You and your asshole friends seem to be just fine with it when me and my friends are buying the next round.

That’s nice, anonymous, paranoid coward. Feel free to let me know who you are, if you do…I’m very easily found.

First of all, I don’t really accept drinks from people for variety of reasons, besides not really needing to also for a variety of reasons. I’m more the type likely to buy the round than accept, as most who know me are. Insulting you to your face? My being frustrated with shitty city policy and upset about what’s going on where I live and have for a long time is directly insulting you? You are seriously projecting above, those ” “ ‘s never happened, at least from me and basically you are coming across as insane. Closed off hipster party? What is this 1996? It’s not and hasn’t been for a long time and anyone who actually knows me knows that I never talk about work when I’m out and go out of my way to not talk about it and certainly don’t brag about what me or my “artist” friends are doing.

Whoever you are it’s pretty clear that you don’t know me. This has got to be some troll trying to push buttons.

And my cue to cut loose from this crack blog.

What goes around comes around.

Weak. You know you’re wrong. Thanks for playing, jackass. Hope things are going well at the Roach Spot.

Shit, now I want to meet Annie! :(

Nothing like a coward hiding behind an anonymous handle. Nothing like a paranoid, anonymous, coward making insults as you have here without identifying yourself. Bravo, brave guy(?). Must be awesome to be you, be sure to say hello when you next see me, friend in common. And feel free to keep on with the persecution complex, it’s a good look on you.

Kevin, you might consider disallowing anonymous posts…it feeds the trolls.

Sure thing “Annie”…

Beautifully put

“Second, should we just rip all of BART out because it encourages assholes from Walnut Creek to commute to work? No, there’s a middle ground here.”

No, the great thing about BART is it transports the assholes back to Walnut Creek after work. 

After sitting in on the discussion at City Hall last week between the City Administrator’s Office and the Dist 6 CAC regarding the Tech Tax Break scheme I am highly cynical about ANY plan put together by Mayor SockPuppet.

How will the City track the collection of this fee?

According the article at SF Gate: “Currently, private shuttle companies use approximately 200 Muni bus stops to load and unload their passengers, according to city estimates. About 4,500 daily round-trips serve approximately three dozen companies.”

Will the City Administrators Office monitor the number of stops per shuttle service and send them a bill or somehow verify that the number of stops per shuttle company equals the amount of money submitted??

I doubt it very much. Read the proposals submitted from companies seeking the tax break. City Hall is perfecting the art of window dressing. Make it look like the residents of SF are being represented, but do the opposite.

I was waiting for the paranoid guy to show up. YOU CAN’T TRUST ANYONE MAN!

Lay off the pipe, bro. Its in everyone’s best interest to make this simple and transparent.

You know what is simple and transparent??

Check out the proposals submitted by companies that want the tax break.

It’s all fakery set up to placate.

You obviously don’t know anything about running a business. It would be FOOLISH for any company with significant headcount to come into a city without trying to negotiate favorable terms. This is standard business practice.

Its also foolish to only look at “tax breaks” since you must look at both sides of the balance sheet. Also, there are intangibles like having brand name companies in your city which attracts other brand name companies.

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round!

it’s also in the interest of SF government and tech companies to keep it as quiet as possible, and make sure everyone else gets fucking soaked.

“simple and transparent” doesn’t mean “fair.”

Colin, you’re Seattle. Shut the fuck up.

Maybe some evil techie douchebag (did I say that right?) will come up with something to monitor the busses and which stops they’ve used throughout the day/month? Then The City can multiply the number of stops, times the cost-per-stop and send a bill? How does anybody get paid for anything they charge for?

In fact, maybe I’ll develop the technology to track the busses. I’ll call it (and don’t go stealing this name) GPS, for Global Positioning System. Who wants in?

Can we stop throwing bricks at normal people on their way to work now and focus our negative energy on Bryan Goldberg instead?

I just trademarked it, asshole!! Moohahhahha!


Obviously blocking buses is working. It’s forcing local guv to legitimize the buses. Unfortunately it continues to enable those who work in Silicon valley to push folks out of SF. The buses are a subsidy given top tech workers. If these folks didn’t have a free luxury ride to work do you think living in SF would be so attractive? The cost and time driving to San Jose both ways (as well as the hassle of having a car in the mission) might make some decide to move to say Palo Alto. (hah) Fuck the buses.

If these folks didn’t have a free luxury ride to work do you think living in SF would be so attractive?

Obviously you haven’t spent much time in Silicon Valley if you’re asking that.

Rhetorical question.

Not all the companies are so far away. You get to Genentech faster by driving yourself then taking the bus.

Not everyone can afford a car.

Normally people who don’t have a car move close to their work or take public transportation like any regular Joe or Jane.

And generally in shuttle situations the city has some sort of regulation over these shuttles and the companies who provide the shuttles pay a fee to use the city streets. And normally said shuttles don’t get a pass on breaking traffic laws without repercussion.

The reason people are pissed is that these shuttles are CONTRIBUTING to the housing crisis WHILE they are getting a free pass from breaking basic traffic laws that anyone else would be fined 300-400$ bucks if they broke AS they plow through the city streets free of charge.

Girlfriend you is thick. The main reason rents move so quickly in SF is because rent control keeps so many units off the market. And not just “poor, brown people” eking out a living in the mish collecting recyclables. There are plenty of techies who moved to SF 3 years ago who are now under market rent. So now all those people are keeping their flats long term. All of a sudden the $2500 they pay for a 2br is a bargain, when the new guy down the hall is paying $3500 for the same size unit. Do you see how that works? THAT is why rents are crazy in SF*. Anyone who rented 2+ years ago has a relative bargain compared to today’s rent. How do you expect rents to come down when so many people hoard their “good deal” flats?

* and why geniuses like me own non rent controlled apartments; it’s like printing money. thanks rent control.


Of course, that effect would be a lot less if San Franciscans would be willing to build more housing, so new residents wouldn’t have to fight so hard for a place. But for years they said “no” to housing developments all over town, without consequence. And no one cared: property owners were doing OK and were happy to see new rentals skyrocket, and rent controlled tenants were perfectly content to sit comfortably in their apartment and give a middle finger to the noobs.

And now, finally, the shit has hit the fan.

You think anyone in rent controlled apartments over the past 15 years is giving anyone the finger? People are just living their lives, the only people who notice the rent controlled apartments are friends who can’t afford to move or people trying to move into the city. Or the landlords that want our asses out. When I moved into my apartment 11 years ago it was at the top of the market cost-wise and on any other planet of rentals it would still be exceedingly high.

What is baffling is that anyone, regardless of being able to easily afford or not, is happy to pay nearly 4K for rent and utilities for 1 bedroom apartment. Often in shitty neighborhoods with homeless people pan-handling and human shit on their doorstop. Especially when you factor in the commutes.

Trying to bring this back to into perspective…why would anyone want to do that? These skyrocketing prices to rent or buy don’t make sense for ANYONE except the property owners which everyone argues are not the current crop of tech workers.

For years property owners have fought hard to prevent new housing from being built in SF, mostly to increase their property values. They were helped by a planning code that was made it ridiculously difficult to build anything, and it only got worse over time. More housing would also have made it easier for tenants to move, but rent-controlled tenants didn’t care, because they were set. Besides, real estate developers might make money off new housing, and real estate developers are RICH and EEEEEVIL, right?

So yeah, long-term SF tenants gave new residents and the next generation of San Franciscans the finger, right along with the rest of ‘em.

And no, no one is “happy” to pay $4K for a place. Just because they can doesn’t mean they like it. It _is_ insane. But it is the city you long-term residents have asked for, by refusing to let the housing supply increase.

Trust me, this housing shortage has been going on for a long time, I’ve been here a long time. No long-term residents have been opposed to more affordable housing but this luxury loft boom going on in my neighborhood alone along Market Street is insane. Heading from Hayes Valley to the Castro we have lofts going in on every other block on both sides of the street. And luxury housing brings people with cars, get ready to not be able to drive in the city, at all. Way to go, city planners!

If you guys want to pay 4K to step over shit and live in borderline dangerous neighborhoods, that’s up to you. It’s not something I’d do and if it comes to it, I’ll leave. It makes zero sense and the fact that people will pay it AND commute for hours and hours each day is almost laughable. Almost, I said.

Just to put things into perspective, I rented a 3 bedroom house for years in the Mission on 24th and San Jose. You’d know the house, huge gorgeous victorian with a gated yard, drive way, garden, massive kitchen for 1400$ dollars and that was considered EXTREMELY expensive at the time. Now it would go for 10K, I’m pretty sure. by the way, that was in 1997.

Anyway, I’ll stick it out and hope for the best for the people I care for in this city even though as someone controversial recently said it’s getting “squared” up. It’s too bad that I’ll be watching beloved businesses close because they can’t find employees who can afford to work for them and also live in the city (already an issue) because of short-sighted city planning but yeah, fuck it. Keep agreeing to pay that insane rent and everything will just be fine.

Tempted for the annoying internet sigh, but not gonna do it.

You say “it’s up to you” as if we have a choice in the matter, if we are to work in our profession around here at all. You pay what the market demands, and that’s what things get bid up to. Housing is not cheaper in the South Bay - often it’s more expensive - and it’s a miserable place to live on top of that. Tech people are now being priced out of the Mission themselves and having to fight for places in to other neighborhoods, because there’s not enough apartments to handle the growing population anywhere in the Bay Area.

This is all because no municipality in this region is willing to build more of the dense housing and walkable neighborhoods that people want to live in today. And that’s not the fault of tech workers.

That’s interesting, which up until now hasn’t really been conveyed in other “discussions” i.e. someone calling me an PBR drinking, Dolores park hoarding loser because the timing never made sense for me to buy in my duration in San Francisco. Mostly, I get fuck you if you can’t afford it get out, which is stating the obvious but no one needs to hear it from an arrogant, self-important, condescending prick, no matter what their profession. I’ll wait to hear it from my landlord, which I don’t know when or if will happen after nearly 12 years most of which I was paying above market value. This has recently changed. I always envisioned leaving San Francisco to a place that it made more sense to buy with one income, partner or not but I sort of got “trapped” here with investments into a business that I feel very strongly for it’s importance historically to San Francisco, a great network of friends, my hometown and family just over an hour away plus I still get to live in a city that I’ve loved that’s been very, very good to me. And still is, at least for the time being.

I didn’t know housing was that expensive in the south bay but I do know I wouldn’t want to live there. Downtown San Jose is getting better but without the demand it’s not going to continue to improve. Ultimately we choose what works for us but personally 4K to live in my awesome neighborhood (not the Mission, by the way) with some serious crazies, human shit all over the place wouldn’t work for me, not only because it doesn’t jibe financially but it makes absolutely zero sense to me. What I pay now, while still expensive in the grand scheme of say, I could have a mortgage in a 5 bedroom house in San Antonio, Texas like my brother pays with what I pay for my rent.

Hopefully this luxury loft/condo boom will lighten the burden on non-luxury lofts/condos around the city.

Anyway, thanks for the level headed discussion.

“Hopefully this luxury loft/condo boom will lighten the burden on non-luxury lofts/condos around the city.”

Actually, the luxury loft building boom will only raise the cost of housing for everybody. Housing doesn’t follow classic supply & demand models. Real estate economists have different models of S&D, but even then, real estate economists are almost universally clueless or shills, or both (almost all real estate economists vigorously denied the existence of the previous bubble until there was blood in the streets. They’re denying it again).

1. Luxury housing and “affordable” housing aren’t fungible. Think of it like this: if you only build Ferraris, the price of Ferraris might go down, but the cost of Ford Fiesta’s would be hardly be affected. It might even raise the cost of Fiestas, because you’ve allotted all your resources to the high end, and there aren’t enough economy cars built to meet the demand. Building only luxury housing means you now need a lot more underpaid service employees to cater to their whims, so there is additional upward pressure on lower-priced housing. So, building only luxury housing actually raises the cost of affordable housing.

2. Housing generates its own demand. As a reductio ad absurdum, consider a building one house in a desert. There is no market for it before it is built. Once you’ve built one, maybe you could sell it to Captain Beefheart (RIP), but there is no great demand for a lone house by itself in the middle of nowhere.

But say you’ve now built 10,000 homes, and have an infrastructure in place with stores and power/water/sewage grids. There will be jobs to service the community, and you now have growth. If there is a local industry apart from just the building of houses, you now have organic growth. People move in, housing prices go up, and builders seek to capitalize on this growth by building more houses to attract more people. The bigger the town gets, the more desirable it becomes to move to, and the more expensive housing becomes.

3. Building only luxury homes raises both the local average and median prices. Builders see this and build more luxury units priced even higher. Based on “comps,” some homeowners capitalize on this because they can now sell their home for much more than it was previously worth. .Flippers jump in. Local landlords see this, and raise their rents, because the new average and median are much higher. This will hold as long as the job market stays strong. Everyone denies there’s a bubble, until the bubble collapses, and the deniers say they knew there was a bubble all along (and they inevitably blame the collapse on policies seeking to ameliorate the worst consequences of the bubble on affordable housing, i.e., it’s always the poor’s fault)). When the job market weakens (eg when private equity-propped but profitless wonders like twitter and yelp finally go the way of pets.com), the process begins to reverse (until the Federal Reserve and Wall St step in to protect their asses and assets).

4. In a recession (and if you’re not in tech or real estate, it’s still a recession), and especially in the current near 0% interest rates, investors (ie, gamblers) seek the returns. When housing becomes “hot,” a bubble develops as speculators pile in, selling homes back and forth to each other. Eventually, the Ponzi game ends, with disastrous results for everyone but the speculators (who get bailed out by Wall St, which gets bailed out by the central bank it owns).

The Federal Reserve “cured” the previous bubble by blowing an even bigger one. The next few years are going to a very wild ride for all of us.

The only way to provide affordable housing is to build housing that is affordable.

But that takes the political will, which hardly exists, and political power, which affordable housing advocates don’t have.

I’m not convinced of your whole premise and I don’t always agree with your posts, but it seems obvious you’ve put some thought and time into this. In your opinion, what’s the reason that no affordable housing gets built? Local architect and planning geek @markasaurus took a stab at coming up with the barebones cost of a basic apartment in SF, and it’s depressingly far from affordable for the area median income: http://markasaurus.com/2013/10/22/why-can’t-developers-build-housing-in-san-francisco-for-the-people-who-need-it-most-instead-of-for-the-rich/

For what it’s worth, I throw myself in with the urbanist crowd; I believe strongly in the importance of having a vibrant diverse city that isn’t dependent on the private automobile, but there’s nowhere near enough public money to subsidize a meaningful fraction of the people who need it. I don’t see much workable alternative to using a combined approach of setting city policy to incentivize the market to “do the right thing”, but even then we see it’s not affordable to sell at-cost. As things currently stand, new development’s contribution to the city’s BMR fund in lieu of on-site BMR units is a significant funding source.. but we’d rather build nothing at all, it seems.

“what’s the reason that no affordable housing gets built? “

The whole pipeline – bankers/developers/realtors/landlords – make more money selling or renting high-end units than they would selling less expensive units. They’d _still_ make money selling less expensive units, just not as much. And if one suggests that rich people should accept any less than they can possibly extract, one is called a communist. It’s only acceptable to suggest that poor people should make less than they ought.

The quickest and surest way to restore housing values where they would be if they had followed the historical trend for the last decade and a half (which would make them affordable to middle class workers), is to get the speculators out.

Want to quickly see what’s propping up this Ponzi scheme? Limit house sales to owner occupants, or maybe second home-ers. Get the speculators out: no more hedge funds, private equity funds, REITs, and absentee foreign capital flight. I know this would never happen, but think about what housing prices would do.

We no longer have a productive economy. It’s a financialized, extractive economy. The economy exists to serve the banker/developer/realtor/landlord complex. Middle class debt is now our chief product.

If the houses were places to live, instead of the fuel for successive Ponzi schemes, prices would revert to their historic and affordable trend; the city would no longer need to impose the whittled-down 12% BMR fee. Other development costs would be lower, as well.

Wall St will never let this happen because of the many trillions of dollars of MBS/CDO/CDS paper based on housing. Wall St has painted us into a corner.

It takes more than that. Because right now, there’s no way to build “affordable” housing in SF.


Until you deal with the issues discussed there, it’s a non-starter. There’s just no way to do it absent huge public subsidies - more than even tax-friendly SF would be willing to take on.

Markasaurus notes that lower real estate prices would result in lower building costs. Hmm…

Building more expensive housing makes housing more expensive. It’s a feedback loop, a Ponzi scheme (I know, I’m wearing that word out, but it’s accurate).

Another factor for the high cost of development is that the builders and related PDR support businesses have left town. Building cost a lot less when builders could be based in SF, have their workshops and warehouses in SF, get their building materials and tools in SF, and pay their workers enough to live in SF.

But we turned damn near every contractor’s shop, cabinet shop, building materials supplier, and warehouse into dotcom “creative space,” condolofts for twitter techies, or towers for absentee Chinese capital flight.

Yes, building has become more expensive, in part because the builders destroyed their own local infrastructure!

I’m supposed to feel sorry for them, that their building costs have gone so high precisely because they’ve been so successful?!

And I’m not anti-builder. I was in the trades for years, and I have a lot of respect for most of them. It’s very hard work, they shoulder serious responsibilities, and they earn what they make, unlike many others in the banker/developer/realtor/landlord wealth-extraction Ponzi scheme.



The South Bay and Peninsula are not “miserable” places to live. Just stop with that. Rural Minnesota is a miserable place to live. West Baltimore is a miserable place to live. Hell, right across the Bay at 85th and Bancroft is a miserable place to live. Shallow Alto is not miserable. Neither is San Mateo or Los Gatos. In fact, the Mission is starting to look a lot like those places; just with more density.

And, Annie, your complaints here could ring as poetic justice to many. Your move to the Mission displaced others and made others feel the same uncomfort you feel now. Your presence in the Mission made the neighborhood more attractive to the same people you’re complaining about here. You are also the face of gentrification. What’s ironic is that your voice is being heard in this gentrification battle because your generation of gentrifiers are skilled with the social media platforms made by the very tech companies you think you hate. The people you displaced never had this voice.

After growing up in SF I live in Oakland now but commute to Van Ness & Market every day. I wasn’t displaced. I chose to leave and it was a great decision. People change. Cities change. Everything is always changing; generation to generation. Until the seas rise and take it all away.

I had my first apartment in 1987 in the Tenderloin and it was also pretty scary (and still is) and I know for a fact that I didn’t displaced anyone in either spot, I didn’t pay more rent than the last person and housing was abundant. We hung out in the Mission and it was terrifying but awesome. I’m so grateful for those memories and wouldn’t change them for the world. I never did anything like squat in a house, I’m a cancer and home is pretty important to me. I left for a few years, off to school and carousing in the tropics and life but came back in 1992 just in time for the recession.

So, when I moved into the Mission in 1992, it was not a desirable place to live at all. I lived on a street in between a Norteno and Serrano turf war who regularly had terrifying battles out front. No one really wanted to live in the Mission at that time, most certainly not the wealthy and it was considered of no man’s land and way too dangerous until just a few years ago. I haven’t lived in the Mission for 13 years, but I’m near and spend time there for work and to visit friends who own or manage bars, restaurants or bartend around the hood.

The word gentrify confuses me, it’s thrown around so oddly and perhaps inappropriately? I guess I could be considered a gentrifier since I was part of the paving process early on of making the Mission a more accessible, safer place to live. I’m not complaining about the people, I’m complaining about the rents and the Google busses who contribute to pushing up those rents while they have, until now, roamed freely without fee or consequence. The people are sure, “squaring up the joint” but that’s just the fact. If you lived in a place for a very long time and were used to seeing and knowing it as a vegetable garden then truck loads of sheep and cows moved in, turning your garden into farmland wouldn’t you have the right to lament for the days of fresh produce. Fresh milk is great and all, but it isn’t exactly the same as carrots, celery, chard and kale. You get used to the milk but probably wouldn’t miss the salad.


Everyone who works at Genentach can.

Thanks for making an argument FOR the buses. You think most people prefer to sit on a bus for an hour? No. That shows you how important living in a real city is.

Why don’t you move to Sunnyvale for a year and report back to us?

Newsflash, Snoot: Mountain View, Palo Alto, Cupertino, Fremont, Redwood City, Union City, Santa Clara all have lower rental vacancy rates than San Francisco. And the city of Mountain View just blocked Google from attempting to build apartments next to their own offices.

If you really think that the problem here is tech workers somehow trying to deliberately push people out of SF, I suggest you start demonstrating at Mountain View City Council meetings. Because people are going to go where the housing is, and that isn’t the peninsula. The busses are just a small bandaid on the gaping wound that is 30 years of bay area anti-development politics.

Tech is here because of Stanford, and because the anti-development policies of San Francisco created quality of life that attracts the people with Klout.

Stanford is not going away, but short sited people are arguing to kill the mojo of San Francisco by turning it into dallas.2.0.

Yes, Dallas is the only possible outcome for a city experiencing an economic boom. FFS.

In my day, the city was filled with artists and hippies and places to squat for no rent. The tech industry killed all of that. Why can’t we just go back to the good old days of the late 1980’s/early 1990’s- a time before most of you reading this blog didn’t even knew San Francisco existed. I am sick of people whining about how their favorite dive bar/taqueria closed. My favorite taqueria closed in 1993 for goodness sakes.

Giving “artists and hippies and places to squat for no rent” doesn’t move a city forward, it just makes it a shithole. Get a real job or leave. San Francisco is a desirable place to be, and desirable places are expensive. If you can’t keep up, sucks for you, but the rest of us shouldn’t have to wait.

Isn’t it typically the “artists and hippies and places to squat for no rent” that create the culture that makes a place desirable, which makes a place expensive, which drives out the artists, which then makes the place less desirable, and leads the artists to find a new place to make desirable? And the cycle of gentrification continues.

But as long as you’ve got yours I guess everything’s cool.

I don’t think its the artists and hippies that make San Francisco desirable, I would argue that being a beatiful city surrounded by water, with a great dining scene, a come as you are attitude, a moderate climate and easy access to good jobs are what make San Francisco desirable. But yeah, I guess some people are into derelict buildings where can squat for free.


It was the Punks - not the Hippies who made this town beautiful. The Skaters, the Vandals, the B Boys, the Girl bands, the Sur13s and n14s. SF had it’s day…we’re older now and there’s no going back to that. Not here. Youth is fleeting and when I was a youth, nobody liked the creepy old guy hanging anyway (Kernohan, you feel me?). Move aside - the Coder Kids are having their day.

One day even this time will be remembered fondly by someone.

Thank you.

how’s your hyper-local social app startup doing, bro, it’s been a while since I’ve heard from you

I think this was directed at me (hard to tell with the indenting of the comments. For the record I don’t work in tech, but I also don’t begrudge those that do.

Colin, how’s your FarmersOnly.com website coming along?

Those days weren’t all wine and roses. The Mission was not very safe. The economy was struggling. Rentals were expensive relative to wages. There weren’t any cyclists except super intense couriers. Arinel was there, but there was no other pizza worth a tinker’s damn. Poor Dave at Donnington could barely fill the joint. SFBG personals didn’t work as well as OKC. The want ads sucked, Craigslist had yet to be invented. You had to actually go to a bank frequently and buy checks and write checks and buy stamps and address envelops, like every fucking month. The only saving grace was Amnesty International would send you little return labels every Christmas. Beepers pretty much sucked, you had to carry either change or calling cards and use, OMG! pay phones, dirty filthy pissy pukey pay phones. At a bar you could get a decent Scotch whisky but it was hard to find decent bourbon whiskey and forget about rye. There was decent beer though, maybe not the same brands we see now, but there many microbrews, that’s they were called then. You want a cocktail? you probably got some syrupy shit shot from a gun and topped with vodak. Panhandling was extreme then. It’s bad now, but I can go out and not get bummed once on some days, then, it was a gauntlet of fucked up shitheels bumming quarters. There were hardly any trees, the freeways were all under construction trying to repair the Loma Prieta damage. Speaking of Loma Prieta, the Giants home was Candlestick and they couldn’t win the series.

I’m thinking I like San Francisco better now then ever before.

Now increase the Ellis eviction consolation prize. Everyone will be happy.

Ellis evictions are a complete goddamn red herring. The “massive surge” of Ellis evictions in 2013 was still under 200 total for a city of ~700,000 residents and ~220,000 rental units. I mean, sure, double it, triple it, whatever makes you feel better, but if you think that will actually reduce any of the upward pressure on rents you’re high.

Ellis reminds tenants that renting is not a longterm solution. A city of renters doesn’t like to face that reality.

It’s also a state law. It won’t change any time soon.

Do I think companies that use muni stops on a regular basis should pay some impact fee for use of city streets, etc? Yes.

But this thing is such a lame and bureaucratic boondoggle. SFMTA has apparently been “in talks” with tech cos’ for over a year. When a fire is lit under their ass, this is what they come up with? Some stupid let’s register so we can track these busses and some vague fees thing? What are we in Russia?

And as for tech co’s being responsible for housing costs (as some lamo keeps suggesting), that is ridiculous. What’s next, google paying an impact fee for every future Ellis eviction? Maybe google can subsidize (otherwise unaffordable) $18 yuppie sandwiches for poor people too.

Once you get that subsidized-living taste, its hard to go back. These people are looking for every angle to continue living their below market lifestyles.

Pathetic junkies…

It’s amazing to me that the people on the anti rent control side, and ‘tech industry’ at any cost, really don’t see a depression coming. They really don’t see this, as not only a speculative high end real estate bubble (who pays cash for a million dollar condo? Hedge funds and etc including foreign buyers and rich tech just speculating). …and as stock market bubble. The margin rates are above 2007 (!), all rising stocks are 100 to 300 % overvalued, and QE by the fed has put the USA govt in the possession of over 3 trillion in questionable RMBS, as well as on the hook since Obama allowed too big to jail become bank holding companies. That means, there will be no vote on a bailout. The govt HAS to cover it. The republicans and democrats made casino banks US govt insured. It was called the greenspan put, now call it the Bernanke put.

When someone once in a while puts this truth on Socket, or any other realtor blog, the 10% pull up their shades and blink, ‘Oh no, the fed would never let us down.” A sure sign that the froth is intoxicating. They are drunk as twice before.
Anybody that is not of the 10%, that thinks they can ride this out, is 2 dollar bill chasing gold prices. Hot money after stupid.
And anybody that thinks the ‘liberal’ party is not completely controlled by the FIRE sector, is …well a fucking dumb liberal.

It’s amazing to me that the people on the anti rent control side, and ‘tech industry’ at any cost, have no diatribe for your excellent post.

Also on that tip, from a SFgate blog post a few months ago “In San Francisco proper, Chinese investor property hunting climbed 84%, month-over-month from July to August 2013– it was also 456% higher than it was this January”
There is nothing signifying a bubble more than intense property speculation buying by people from the most nouveau riche country in the world.

the chinese rich are putting their money where they think it is safe. Har. Due to a huge shadow economy, the central govt in china is trying to reign in speculation. Impossible at this point. Trillions of loans by province chiefs ‘mayors’ etc…are going to tank. So goes the USA, so goes china, if china goes first then us…..and the EU is already where we will be in a year (the austerity tanked countries anyway)
we need to organize en mass for this depression. It’s gonna be ugly as hell in a country that doesn’t even have a ‘viable’ democratic real left.

It’s just a shame that these companies can’t use their huge lobbying power and influence to work for the greater good of the entire Bay Area by trying to get a real high-speed transit solution through all of the tweener cities and municipalities to San Jose rather than undermine the issue with a fleet of private limos.

You gotta crawl before you walk, honey.

Yes, and then they would build perpetual motion machines, then colonize Mars, and then snap their fingers and turn the entire Mission into a magical candy land of lollipop street signs and chocolate fire hydrants.

Actually, scratch that - they would get all of those things done before they were _ever_ able to successfully deal with the bureaucratic mess the natives have created here, and the whiny NIMBYs that would scream like colicky babies for months and months. Approval of real high-speed transit? Through the Bay Area? LOL. That’s hilarious.

While the CA high speed rail seems a bit dead in the water right now, both in the assembly and public opinion, the line from SF south isn’t planned to be ready until 2029…..we could have a crash and another boom and another crash in that amount of time. Or nuclear war…

LOL … yep, 2029. 15 years. If you want to know why tech companies decided to run their own independent shuttle systems instead of working with the local/state governments to build a public system, look at that number 15, right there.

I can’t see the Google bus plan being contingent on the high speed rail one iota. Companies were growing fast and knew that young people generally hated living in SV, where 3 of the largest most prestigious companies were. That’s all.

Yes, you know what? It is a shame that for all their power and money, Google and Yahoo and Apple et al can’t convince San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to stop being exactly who they are, re-join BART and start building high-density housing on the peninsula.

Because you know what? They can’t. Hell, Google can’t even get a 1,000-unit apartment building built on its own land in Mountain View. The tech companies are not the problem. The problem is that incumbent landowners in both the peninsula and SF have captured the regulatory and approval process, and have basically made it impossible to build anything but luxury housing (and damned little of that) in the bay area in order to keep their own property values propped up.

It’s a nice little deal: old money buys off the government, gets their setbacks and sightlines enshrined into law, and makes popcorn as new money and old activists have a cage fight over the shrinking remains of the available rental market.

The busses are a bandaid on much deeper problem. San Francisco has a vacancy rate of 2.5%. You know what it’s like on the peninsula? Mountain View: 1.6% vacancy rate. Milpitas: 2.1%. Fremont, a parking lot with a mayor: 1.7%. Union City: 1.3%. Redwood City: 2.3% San Mateo: 1.6% Meanwhile in the middle of a national goddamn depression, the tech industry are basically the only people hiring, so everyone even remotely qualified is looking to move here. Good luck holding back that tide by throwing rocks at busses.

btw kevin, I know you did say you ‘changed’ after one term of Obama, but to attack willie brown so much ( I hated him), is a bit funny when you admit to campaigning for John Kerry for 11 months. One of the most right wing democrats you can imagine. De regulated finance, supported Iraq (why he lost against bush), and had no senatorial ‘liberal’ bill record whatsoever. He also supported, as Obama did, the re writing of bankruptcy laws and as well as student loans, which were bills written by the banks. He also has supported every overthrow of democracy in latin america, ect since the 1990’s. He IS right wing. Willie Brown was an actual ‘liberal’ compared to him.

Couple of points re: my Kerry campaigning days:
1) My political sensibilities were obviously underdeveloped at age 19.
2) When I joined the campaign when they were still based from their shitty Portland St. offices in Boston, Kerry looked like he had a good shot at being the nominee based on his polls, and if you want to beat the President, you gotta work with the nominee you got (the perils of a two party system.)
3) He wasn’t my first choice, but I’m glad I spent the time working for Kerry. My only regret is he didn’t win.

Draw whatever conclusions you want from that, but I maintain that it’s lame to slam someone for giving a shit.

great reply. sorry I brought that up. My hatred of the democrats outweighs my hatred for the neo fascist republicans at this point.There is always a 20% fascist org in every democracy. The liberals actions are usually what allow it to take control.
keep up the good work

It’s just amazing how bent out of shape you people get. All I see here is smugness because now Google has to cough up some money. Where do you think that money is going to go? Is it going to make new bus stops or more room? Somehow I doubt it… it’s just going to go into the black hole, and the busses will keep cruising along just as they do now…

There is so much brain damage in this city sometimes I relish the coming of our tech overlords.

That’s the whole point. The money MTA will get will go mostly to pay for the new added layer of red tape they just created: registering the buses, adding staff to monitor the busses, etc. so.fucking. stupid. And I bet the fucktard that is head of MTA makes over $100k per year. Maybe he’ll buy one of the new Valencia st condos.

A simple google bus search finds that Ed Reiskin makes $294,000. I’m sure a Valencia condo is way too small for him.

Yeah, he’s one of the top paid city workers. Maybe he donates handsomely to homeless centers.

I believe that due to CA Prop 218, this program isn’t allowed to generate a profit for the city. Meaning, the program is only allowed to generate enough revenue to exactly offset the cost of running the program. Meaning, this money goes nowhere and does nothing.

That’s what’s infuriating! The city has been in discussions with tech co’s for over a year, and this is the best they can do. They can’t even find a simple work around so that AT LEAST the money they collect helps pay for practical things, like fixing roads, maintaining muni stops, etc. It doesn’t help that SF is as old as fuck, and a county as well as a city- and it’s insanely inefficient bureaucracies prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt. I’ve lived in other countries and trust me, our bureaucratic system would have made Stalin proud. Ever try getting a building or heaven forbid, planning approval for anything? Even uncontested by any neighbor, it’s a nightmare. And if NIMBY neighbors are getting up your ass, you’re years off from any resolution. This city continues to kick itself, and then complain that it hurts.

Oh wise and thoughtful pam, so worldwide and experienced that he has lived in several countries where every s Cities i much newer than San Francisco, - well that eliminates a lot of Europe and Latin America, and knows more about all the world than we do. Please yell more of your wisdom.

You make zero sense. Fucking idiot.

Rich, Coming from the dude who couldn’t make five sense into a nickle.

Fuck off, useless twat.

Some people curse so frequently that it is better to to leave.

Prop 218 was sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn, the same org who sponsored Prop 13. City governments were looking for new ways to generate revenue after Prop 13 and Prop218 came along and nipped that in the bud.

The fees will go to analyzing and defining up to 200 stops the shuttles may use, making sure the bus stops are the right length for the volume of buses, are at the right part of the intersection (near stop or far) to keep intersections clear, re-time signals, restripe, add signage to the up to 200 stops identified for the program, and pay for enforcement so anyone parking in a bus stop without a permit or a common carrier (Muni) receives a citation.

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Get to the clinic, fool.

Fucking idiot. My comment reflects the incompetence of this city’s gov. Learn some irony, dimwit!

You calling anyone a fucking idiot is the only irony here. Funny how often you’re stuck calling people idiots when you’re the only common thread. But it’s everyone else, right? Nobody gets you in all your self-defined brilliance. You huge dullard.

If you don’t like it than STFU

What a little child you are. You try to troll but suck at. You try to be offensive with big swear words but suck at it. Now you’re just gonna be all, “well just shut up.” Calling you a simpleton is actually offensive to those that are a bit simple. At least they know they are such.

I think you’re the thick one here. I must really get your goat, as you continue responding in your fit of anger. And of course it’s smart to personalize online comments, because you know, they represent real life.

Nah, you don’t. You’re just easy to pick on. The joke - as is in “real life”, I’m sure - is on you.

And how are you exactly contributing to this thread? Your singular entry is a personal account of how you left SF and you’re okay with it. Well, enjoy your daily commute into SF little worker bee, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass. And btw, thanks for your help in increasing property values here, for it allows people like me plenty of time on their hands to play on blogs. Cheers.

The pam brand has a reputation as a foul mouthed ignorance on this blog Either quit coming here or get a new alias cause pam is == dumb.

Equating foul mouth with ignorance is pure weaksauce. I may be offensive, I may be annoying, but I bring valid POV’s that some of you lazy-ass-take-advantage-of-rent-control recipients need to hear.

As for angry dickwads like “johnatton”, they can just go suck it. Pure rubbish, and keeps responding like a 3 year old in tantrum.

In addition to the very important gentrification issues discussed here, I think it’s worth mentioning that the Google busses are adding carbon back into the air that was already taken out by CalTrain. This excerpt from the SFMTA press release is heavily flawed for that omission: “These shuttles [eliminate] at least 45 million vehicle miles traveled and 761,000 metric tons of carbon every year from the region’s roads and air.”
Did anyone else notice this problem with the SFMTA’s numbers?

You also have to take into account that the busses run sans passengers in one direction.

Not true, at least in some cases - certain providers keep garages in both the South Bay and SF.

And as for the Caltrain argument: if you think Caltrain is prepared to handle 10,000 more passengers, you’re delusional. (Not that it would anyway - employees would just drive, because few will voluntarily take on an extra hour of commute on public transit that requires three transfers.)

Yeah, 300+ of them per day.

Hi Tuffy!

Can someone jump me out of this forum?



Yeah, those numbers are way off if they are calculating avoided GHG emissions based solely on reductions in vehicle miles traveled.

The EPA estimates that the average vehicle (getting 21mpg) emits 423 grams of CO2 per mile traveled. For a “typical” vehicle, this means it emits 5.1 metric tons of CO2 per year after driving 12,000 miles. You can find the EPA’s calculations here: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/measuring.htm. Click on the link for the first PDF to get to their equations.

So if 12,000 miles = 5.1 tons of CO2, that means avoiding 45,000,000 miles of auto travel means avoiding 19,125 tons of CO2 ((45,000,000/12,000) * 5.1). I have no idea where the other 741,875 tons of avoided CO2 emissions come from. Happy to have someone from SFMTA explain it to me because otherwise it sounds dodgy.

I never realized that I am part of why The City is going to shit. My father moved here in 1972 to work for IBM, I am techie spawn.

I look forward to telling my child that she gets to be part of a long, proud line of neighborhood destroyers.

Me too. See you in hell!

And no doubt a pompous, self-righteous, lay-about posted up on a pseudo-divebar stool complaining most weeknights about the state of affairs.

You know me pretty well, are you the lonely guy with acne that sits at the same bar staring into his beer because he has no one in his life to talk to?

No, I like women. I spend time with them regularly.

I’m deeply sympathetic to the people who are getting priced out, but when you call the city The City it makes me hate you a little.

Don’t go there - you have no right whatsoever to to dictate monikers no matter who you are descended from.

You’re absolutely correct, I don’t. But SF is one of thousands, tens of thousands of cities. Calling it The City, like it’s the only one or the best one, positively REEKS of entitlement and elitism. I say this with a smile! I love SF, I had some of the best times of my life there.

Yes, everyone knows it’s more correctly referred to as “ci-tay”

We was born here - Natives will say what we want. Frisco, the Sco the Citaaaaay whatever. Don’t try to get all Herb Cain, herb.

Growing up here I asked why people called it The City and was told it’s because between LA and Portland S.F. was the only city that stood out. When asked were in California I am from and I say The City, most know I mean S.F.

Annie Are You OK
So, Annie Are You OK
Are You OK Annie
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So, Annie Are You OK
Are You OK Annie
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So, Annie Are You OK
Are You OK Annie
You’ve Been Hit By
You’ve Been hit By
A Smooth Criminal

I just saw on the news that a Google Ferry Service has begun. I’m guessing that it’s a reaction to the anti-bus sentiment. I have a feeling not only will that program expand, but other companies may follow suit.

Sail-borders are gonna be PISSED!

BTW, whoever put together the graphic at the top of this article. Oh my god FUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUU. Somewhere between 500 and 6,000 civilians were shot to death by soldiers at Tiananmen Square. If you think for a moment that your manufactured outrage of people riding a bus to work is even slightly similar, you need to check your fucking self.

That’s some mighty fine hand wringing there, Officer Whiney.

I was at the SFMTA hearing yesterday, and what was most interesting to me is that only 35,000 people in a city of 800k+ benefit from the use of these buses. That means that we are dictating public policy to benefit a minority when the majority are affected by what’s happening as a result of these buses.

Sure, they lower carbon footprints by taking more people out of cars for commuting and reduce traffic on the highways, but they also have a number of detrimental effects to the general populace.

They block MUNI buses, which affects transportation the greater public depends on, making illegal use of public infrastructure for buses that not everyone can use.
They block bike lanes, which in some intersections is rather dangerous and sends riders into blind traffic when there is a MUNI and a tech bus on the same street.
They pollute the center city with diesel fumes.
They raise the rents along the routes they serve. Craigslist shows listings for apartments now with proximity to tech bus stops in the same way they show housing amenities like walk-in closets and stainless steel appliances.
There was a study released by the Department of Urban Planning last week that tracked 5 different Google bus stops, and the rents in the areas proximate to them for a two-year period. In tracking both one and two bedrooms, ten sets of values were collected. Eight of those ten showed increases in rent costs when the location was within .5 miles of a Google bus stop versus being outside of that .5 mile radius, one value was the same, and only one was lower, and that was 2 bedroom apartments near Geary, which is probably where families are relocating for lower rents. Rents close to the Dolores bus stop for example, went up 43 percent in 2 years time, versus 23 percent outside of the .5 radius of a Google stop. That’s a 20 percent increase in like properties, and the main difference is how far the location is from a tech bus stop. We can’t ignore that these buses are raising the rents along the routes they travel. It’s happening.

What we need to do is mitigate the effects these buses are having on the greater populace of the city. My solution, and I spoke of this at the SFMTA hearing (although I was pretty nervous and watching the clock, so I’m not sure how much of this I got across) is that we look at a central terminus for tech buses. Ideally, it would be situated close to the highway to minimize impact on city streets, and accessible by public transportation for ease of access.

In the city itself, the Transbay Terminal would be well served for this purpose. Just south of the city, the Colma BART station would also work well as it is close to the highway and has plenty of parking. Since the majority of tech workers live in the Civic Center/Mission/Castro areas and are within walking distance of a BART station, they would likely use the option to pick up their shuttles at Colma and still maintain about the same duration of commute time as they have now.

Since nothing in SF is more than seven miles from anything else, it would be relatively easy for most of tech workers to access one of these two locations, which keeps their buses out of the city proper, allows them an option that is still more attractive than commuting by car, eliminates the risk to bikers and pedestrians, keeps the diesel fumes out of the center city, alleviates the issues with MUNI buses being blocked, and perhaps most importantly, removes the very totem people are holding with disdain as the symbol of gentrification, so that maybe we can break bread and have a real discussion about income inequality, civic responsibility, landlord/tenant law reforms, and affordable housing.

The current proposal does nothing to alleviate these problems, and in fact may even exacerbate them. The SFMTA knew this was a problem back in 2011 when this study was first planned and did nothing. They just did a study to determine they needed to stall another 18 months to do another study, whilst collecting a $1 fee per stop per day just so that they can tag and identify the buses, and pay for an oversight committee. There is no net benefit to the city or the SFMTA from the proceeds of this. It is a stalling technique on the part of the SFMTA to not have to deal with this again for another 18 months. It doesn’t even get implemented until July. The bigger problem is that since they are reducing the stops from 2000 to 200 without reducing the number of buses, the solution they propose will only further saturate the stops with more buses, likely run rents up even more since the stops will now be more coveted, and make these areas even more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

The SFMTA did a study that asked if the shuttle buses didn’t exist in SF, how tech workers would choose to get to work, and 49.5 percent of respondents said they would drive alone, 10 percent would carpool, and 30 percent wouldn’t make the commute at all and would live closer to work. I would bet that my solution would bridge the gap between those who would move and those who would drive alone as no one would be more than seven miles from their stop. Would it work for absolutely every tech worker? No. Will it work for the majority of them? Most likely. Less than five percent of the population here get to ride these buses, but it’s clear that far, far more people are affected by them. I think this is a more than equitable compromise.