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Ed Lee Says Google Bus Protests Made No Sense to Him

The former community activist doesn't understand your community activism. 

Ed Lee speaking at the Commonwealth Club in 2011. 

Ed Lee is many things. Mustache model. Mayor. Human embodiment of the color beige.

It's easy to forget that back in the day, he was actually kind of a badass, stick-it-to-the-man protestor.

So it's tricky to figure out if what mayor Lee said last night at the Commonwealth Club amidst an hour-long discussion of inequality, housing, and the tech boom was meant as scolding—or tactical advice.

According to FortuneLee said this of the Google bus protests that captured world-wide attention: "I understand why those protests were [directed] at Google buses, but they didn't make sense to me because all people were doing was trying to get to work."

So which Ed Lee is talking there? The Roaring '10s cheerleader for economic growth? Or the International Hotel revolutionary? Could it be a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B?

The mayor went on to defend on economic and revitalization grounds the controversial tax breaks that brought Twitter and other tech companies to mid-Market. "The tech companies and the businesses that came onto Market contributed to that lower unemployment," he said. "Those of you who have walked the same walk I've walked along Market Street, we all see the difference."

Lee also reiterated much of what he said in the State of the City speech about his plan to ease the housing crunch, calling for an additional 30,000 units, eviction protections, and a more streamlined permitting process. He also gave himself low marks on addressing the plight of the homeless, saying that "we weren't doing enough" in the last year. 


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