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Google Bus Opponents Argue Need for CEQA Study in San Francisco Superior Court

On Friday, tech bus opponents took their case to court, arguing that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act due to impacts including air quality and community displacement.
November 16, 2015, 8am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"At question in the trial is the need for environmental study," writes Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, transportation reporter for the San Francisco Examiner prior to the start of the one-day, Nov. 13 trial. The litigants, known as the Coalition for Fair, Legal and Environmental Transit [PDF], "argue The City needs to study the commuter shuttles’ impact on air quality, pedestrian safety and displacement of communities."

Photo of multiple shuttles using Muni zone at 8th and Market

Credit: SFMTA - Commuter Shuttles Policy and Pilot Program

“What we’re saying is the buses have real impacts on The City,” said Richard Drury, the attorney litigating against San Francisco. “The intention of CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] is not to stall and kill projects, but to ensure agencies measure all impacts.”

The City Attorney, representing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), argues that an environmental impact report (EIR) is not required for the Commuter Shuttle Pilot Program.

In a subsequent article, Rodriguez provides an in-depth look at look at how the trial played-out. While litigants addressed a host of issues, including the diesel exhaust from the buses, the use of MUNI stops as the photo above depicts, though the pilot program requires the buses to pay MTA for every time a bus uses one, the displacement issue may have been at "the heart of one of (their) gravest contentions – that commuter shuttles cause rents to spike, and potentially escalate evictions."

The outcome could potentially send the SFMTA back to the drawing board – forcing them to perform rigorous environmental study of the commuter shuttles which ferry tech workers from San Francisco to Silicon Valley.

"Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong may decide the fate of the regulations governing these buses as soon as Dec. 11," adds Rodriguez.

On Tuesday, the SMTA Board of Directors will consider making the Commuter Shuttle Pilot Program permanent.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, November 13, 2015 in San Francisco Examiner
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