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Supervisor David Campos on the Google Bus Fracas: "There Is Common Ground Here"
Scott Lucas | Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons | December 9, 2013
The supe strikes a judicious pose.
"I'm not surprised," said Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes the corner of 24th and Mission where a combustible Google Bus protest took place this morning. "It's San Francisco. There's always something happening."
Reached between meetings at City Hall, the progressive Supervisor, who is currently running for a seat in the Assembly, staked out a middle path between the protestors and the people they see as the enemy—tech workers. "Whatever your view is, the buses have become a symbol of gentrification," said Campos, before striking a note of conciliation. "I've done a lot of work on transportation policy, and it's good that people aren't driving. That's positive. But on the other side, there are issues that come up in obstruction, inconvenience, and fairness. We need to regulate them."
The protestors had called for the tech firms that use the shuttles to pay a penalty of $1 billion to the city's coffers. Is that something that Campos could get behind? "The MTA is putting together a proposal for the buses to be charged a fee. I think it's appropriate to charge for the benefit of using the stops, as well as additional costs from inconvenience, obstruction, and wear and tear to the streets. I don't know what that looks like exactly."
More broadly, Campos thinks that the protests reflect the growth of an underlying schism in the city between older and newer residents. It's a split that Campos understands, but is eager to bridge. "We want to reach out to these companies to say, look, you have a presence here, your workers are here. What can we do for you to become engaged and involved in the neighborhoods?"
There's a hint of an implicit threat there—what happens, exactly, if the tech workers and their firms say no? But Campos seems convinced that the gap is not as wide as partisans on either side may view it. "People come to these neighborhoods like the Mission because they share the values. They appreciate diversity, the cultural history, the arts, the food, the transit system, and the bicycle infrastructure. We have to make them understand there is a responsibility that goes along with that. There is common ground here."