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Google Transportation Politics

Google Funds San Francisco Bus Rides For Poor 362

theodp writes "The LA Times reports that Google will fund free bus passes for low- and middle-income kids in a move to quiet the controversy surrounding tech-driven gentrification in San Francisco. In a statement, Google said, 'San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don't pay more to use city bus stops. So we'll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students [an existing program] for the next two years.' SF Mayor Ed Lee said, 'I want to thank Google for this enormous gift to the SFMTA, and I look forward to continuing to work with this great San Francisco employer towards improving our City for everyone.' But not all were impressed. 'It's a last-minute PR move on their part, and they're trying to use youth unfairly to create a better brand image in the city,' said Erin McElroy of the SF Anti-Eviction Mapping Project."
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Google Funds San Francisco Bus Rides For Poor

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  • by drolli ( 522659 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @06:59AM (#46380403) Journal

    What would be unfair would be to continue to continue the division of rich, clean suburbs far outside the city, only ot be reached by environmentally unfriendly and space/road-wasting cars, and create infrastructure for the upper middle class there - and allow them to avoid contact with the less fortunate.

    To find efficient solutions (aka Busses) to transport workers in the city and thus mix income in parts of the city and even help other parts of the population to choose a efficient way of transportation and help in reducing the traffic is *not* unfair. If at all, it may be considered communist.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @07:15AM (#46380431) Homepage

    1. Welfare
    2. Gentrification

    One approach says "give the poor some stuff to help them get a leg up, live slightly better and afford them some opportunities." The other says "Give the rich some room to grown in poor/bad neighborhoods and see if things trickle down to improve the local economy."

    Well? I'm a little undecided which is best because frankly, the first option would work on me. I have been on public assistance in the past. I didn't like it and got off of it as soon as possible. On the other hand, some people are quite compfortable wallowing in that sh!t.

    Meanwhile, the things I have seen come through gentrification have been successful. I have not seen any information related to gentrification failures other than "they say don't! whites not welcome here!" and then they don't do it. So if anyone can point to "gentrification gone bad" I'd be interested in learning about it.

  • Charity vs Taxation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:38AM (#46380611)

    Why should we applaud the good prince's largesses? Yes, this is actually nice, encouraging the use of public buses and giving short change for that.
    But I find it weird that a giant company wants to substitute itself with what should the town's/muncipality's/local government's duties. And it's a PR move anyway, one that reinforces the notion that a giant private company can appriopriate public space, pay little to no tax and do whatever it wants with no accountability.

    In general, I don't get the cultural fascination that US americans have for charity, while at the same time showing extreme disdain for welfare, public services, public funding of infrastructure (except for roads, military and prisons, go figure) and even decent conditions of employment.
    E.g. waiters/waitresses are to be paid starvation wages, and rely on tips. Why do they have to beg?, is it so that customers can feel superior or something?, I have trouble understanding this.

    Google hides its profits in the Carribean and pays no taxes. What about fixing that. Hire well paid accountant/fiscalist lawyer types to try and close as many of those fucking tax loopholes as they can. Billions upon billions are missing.
    Google wants to give $6.8 million in charity money over two years, probably getting some more tax deduction in the way. Fuck them.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:39AM (#46380619) Homepage

    I am a programmer, and I find working with other programmers nearby to be very valuable. Having randoms wander into the office is not so good, but there's a good synergy to over-the-cube-wall conversation when you are coding in a team. Having worked from home for the past decade, this is the primary thing that I miss. The commute, not so much... :)

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @12:41PM (#46381821) Journal
    The point is that any city in a civilised country will have to do some kind regulation of its bus services, because otherwise all kind of shady bus companies will pop up.

    You realize that you can charter a private bus, from dozens of different companies, just about anywhere in the US, right? That you or I could hire a bus right now, to haul our 40 closest friends halfway across the country and drop us off in a cornfield in Nebraska, no questions asked?

    The only part of this making it at all an unusual situation, Silicon Valley has decided to offer them on a regular basis to tech workers as a job perk, thereby filling a glaring gap in SF's public transit system.

    Or looked at differently - When companies do this (and they do) to haul migrant workers from "stops" at every Home Depot in the area, to pick crops on a Georgia plantation, we applaud them for accommodating the needs of the poor. When Google does the same as a way to work around CalTrans' abysmal inter-city service, we give them hell. Pick a stance, folks - Accommodating and environmentally sound, or gentrifying and elitist?
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CycleMan ( 638982 ) on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:45AM (#46385771)

    The difference is owning vs renting. If you own and prices double, you can cash out if you want to. If you rent and prices double, no soup for you. Maybe you pay the extra; maybe you move and take a longer commute and find a new daycare and relocate your kids to a new school and say goodbye to the neighbors you've gotten to know and love. It can be very disruptive to community and continuity, and I understand the concern.

    50 miles south of San Francisco, there are discussions about whether the owner of a mobile home community can decide to sell the land to a big housing developer. The senior citizens who live there know that if he is able to sell, they'll have to move out of the area because there are no affordable alternatives, and good luck taking your manufactured home with you.

    California adds an interesting wrinkle with its Prop 13, a 1979 law saying that housing values for tax purposes can only rise 2% each year if you don't sell your home and property tax is capped at ~1% of housing value, so property tax bills are pretty stable compared to other places. That law was partly to keep elderly from being pushed out of their homes by skyrocketing property taxes. However, properties are reassessed at market value upon sale, so if these folks have to move, their new home may carry a hefty tax increase without necessarily being any nicer of a place to live.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton