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View Diary: What's the matter with "The Google Bus?" (130 comments)

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  •  a complex issue (5+ / 0-)
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    ferg, Simplify, tardis10, dksbook, greengemini

    but simplistically presented.  

    I'm thinking of my daughter and her partner of many years.  She is a native of the City, born there in 1967 while I was living there, a UC Berkeley grad and a denizen of the Mission for nearly twenty years,  doing her part to make it somewhere the diarist wants to live. Starving artist/writer street cred galore.  A Kossak, as well as a special ed educator who was utterly disgusted with school district administrative politicking and bureaucracy.

    She's bootstrapped her way into free-lance work in Silicon Valley selling her writing/editing/teaching skills to geeks.  Good thing, seeing as how she is coming up on that big 5 oh in a few years.  She rides those "limos" some days because hubby works for one of the giants down there; other days they drive,  sometimes separately, down the yuppie freeway, the 280 freeway down the spine of the peninsula, splendidly isolated from much of the hoi polloi traffic and I'll bet those buses use it as well.  She's got a 15 yr old beater BMW that hubby keeps running, her first car.

    Just to put one human face on those aboard.  She earned that seat on the bus.  She's not living large,  just finally getting to live a little.  Her old Digger  anarcho-communalist builder gabacho Dad is mighty proud of her.

    I also completely see the diarist's POV, although he comes off whiny and maybe a little envious in trying to present his case.  Too bad BART never made the loop around the bottom of the Bay; that would have been the icing on the cake that is BART and the whole MUNI system.  I love SanFran too much to complain about anything there.  I'm amazed and delighted that the whole unsustainable antpile continues to function at a fever pitch while waiting for the Big One.  What's a few more buses?

    I get my urban fix every year or so with a week on San Francisco streets.  I don't bring my car.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 12:24:34 PM PDT

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    •  Thanks for sharing your daughter's (4+ / 0-)
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      melo, kimoconnor, where4art, claude

      personal story. It's good to move beyond the monolithic stereotypes, so we can get into the deeper nuances of the issue. Since the SPUR panel did not allow that kind of deeper analysis and processing of the many facets of this phenomenon, I felt like I had to take it there, just to open the actual dialog which is what is happening in this diary and on my blog.

      I probably could have waited a few days before writing my letter to SPUR, which probably would have made me sound less of what you call "whiny" but to me was more about being emotionally engaged. But I felt like the discussion needed some emotion, because everyone was treating this as a bunch of business decisions when real people are getting pushed out of the community and losing their homes, as you can read in this thread below. Can't we feel a little bit personally affected by this?

      It's not exclusively these companies' fault, but I think the bus issue presents us with a chance to talk about what's happening in the city and beyond, as far as growing wealth inequity and the effect it has on our society and communities.

      As far as envy, that's completely off the mark. If you knew me and the things I care about in life, you'd be laughing for even entertaining that thought.

      Ecology is the new Economy

      by citisven on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 05:45:23 PM PDT

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      •  Well, I don't think this diary sounds (3+ / 0-)
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        claude, citisven, shaharazade

        whiny at all, and I think you did a great job documenting this phenomenon—it fleshes out the summary of the whole situation that I got from you on the walk to the Tea Garden recently!

        I also take issue with the assertion that you're "maybe a little envious"—what? I don't see anything in this piece that supports that. As a 30-year resident of the City—but not the Mission, so I haven't been affected by the Google Bus scene the way you have—I really appreciate this first-hand account of the way that facilitating a huge influx of residents with 6-figure incomes is affecting the traditionally working-class Mission neighborhood. And of course, the drastic inflation of the cost of housing is radiating throughout the City; rents in my Inner Sunset neighborhood have risen so astronomically in the last few years that if I were to lose my rent-controlled apartment (now more than 100% under market, thanks to the Google Bus –enabled pressure on rents), I'd have to leave the City, too. This situation is just insane.

        I hope SPUR takes the time to review your presentation (more than just a "letter," in my opinion!) with the care it deserves. I think that they, of all people, would be the ones to take a serious interest in what you have to say.

        (P.S. Sorry I'm so late to this diary! I've had a helluva week, and I'm finally catching up on a few things.)

        •  Hello where4art (1+ / 0-)
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          sorry you had a rough week, I hope you're getting to enjoy a little time off this weekend. Thanks for the update from the Sunset rental market, I do think this is an issue that's important to everybody, including the folks in the tech industry. I'm not sure if anything concrete can or should be done about rising rents and income inequity beyond protecting existing rent control laws and continually raising the minimum wage, but I've lived on this planet long enough to be very skeptical whenever the well-off use trickle-down arguments to explain why this is good for everybody. And while I don't doubt the goodness of individual employees, I'm just a little bit suspicious of the big companies' corporate headquarters' concern for the commons when they're stashing away billions of $$ in Bermuda tax shelters.

          Ecology is the new Economy

          by citisven on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 02:53:02 PM PDT

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    •  like I said, complex issue (1+ / 0-)
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      I apologize if my tone was offensive; I have no doubt that you mean well.

      The buses are but a symptom,  and addressing only them is a band-aid,  when the fundamental issues and solutions will have to examine and change just how we organize society and politics.  Something as basic as , Gasp!,  urban planning could have seen this coming and been dealing with it decades ago.

      BART-around-the-Bay would have eliminated the need for the buses, especially if the other supporting PubTrans infrastructure was better supported.  The governance system doesn't function correctly,  because of the corrosive influence of money.  The right decisions don't get made a quarter century ago because of it.  And we wind up reduced to slapping Band-Aides on whatever symptom becomes too big to ignore.


      don't always believe what you think

      by claude on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 02:40:57 PM PDT

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      •  no worries, claude (0+ / 0-)

        it's kind of a heated subject which only means that people on all sides care about it and because we're all kind of stuck in a system that often makes us choose between bad and worse decisions. You're totally right about the urban planning aspect, we really missed the boat (or the train) in this country on so many levels a long time ago, and we're paying the price now by having to fight over which band aid will prevent more damage rather than operating within a design that naturally encourages basic tenets of sustainability, like access by proximity.

        I wrote about Freiburg, Germany a little while ago, where the planners made a very unpopular decision right after WW2 to rebuild the destroyed urban core in its dense medieval layout. It was during the rise of the automobile and the head of planning was accused of being backwards and old-fashioned. Today, Freiburg is one of the greenest cities in Europe, not necessarily because Freiburgers are that much smarter or more environmentally conscious than others, but because the basic design of their city is built on ecocity principles.

        So yes, if we'd had been forward-thinking enough to extend BART around the bay (connected to light rail in individual towns) but even more importantly, to not build sprawling suburbs that a) are completely unsustainable in a post-carbon world and b) young people don't want to live in anymore, we wouldn't be arguing over Google Buses now.

        However, the argument about Google Buses also gives us the opportunity to perhaps address some of the larger structural issues that while difficult shouldn't be impossible to change, if we really put our minds and money behind it. But if we're just happy applauding these buses for being the perfect solution, we won't even have a chance to ever make the kind of meaningful structural changes that could carry us more smoothly through the coming age of fewer fossil fuels.

        Ecology is the new Economy

        by citisven on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 03:52:00 PM PDT

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