The activists kept up the blockade. They had their own proposal, a Marine Disposal Alternative. The MDA was no less ambitious than the bypass. The project would stabilize the Slide by widening the mountain’s base with a manmade earthen foundation sloping from the cliff to the water.
Geologists found this idea absurd. It would be a temporary solution, at best, lasting only until the newly formed lower slope succumbed to the inevitably violent erosion. Still, Caltrans had to at least make it seem like they were considering this alternative. So in the early 1990s, the department sent an exploration team to survey the area. A group of three or four scientists maneuvered a whaling boat through the waters below the Slide, deploying a bottom-sounding device to locate its base. Like most days, the surf was ferocious. It flooded the deck. Caltrans officials overseeing the project from the shore watched in horror as the boat capsized. The scientists managed to swim to land. And that was the end of the Marine Disposal Alternative.
When your experience of a big city is a seamless parade of hip restaurants and privately funded transportation, it’s easy to overlook the things that cities need, like filled potholes and a reliable transit system. San Franciscans feel resentful about the technology industry’s lack of civic and community engagement, and the Google bus is our daily reminder.
Then there was the small matter of hitting the woman at the bus stop.
There is a close relationship between having a life that is sheltered from everyday experiences of discomfort and difficulty, and having a blatant lack of consideration for other people. It’s not an accident that the man at that bus stop didn’t notice that he had hit someone. Nor is it an accident that he didn’t bother looking around to acknowledge the person whom he had hit.
He had no interest in seeing her. He will never see her.
And this, my friends, is why these stories inevitably end with the have-nots taking to the barricades, while the haves scramble for security and wonder when and why everyone got so angry.
I’ve noticed more and more people (and I have a lot of sympathy with them) saying “if these kids want to work at Google, then they should live in Mountain View”. It’s either that, or Google (and Facebook et al) should set up headquarters (or at least large satellite offices) in San Francisco.
Within the last year Twitter’s proved you can house 1,500 odd employees here, and I’d be amazed if they don’t have contingency plans to at least double that. It’d be so much better than these “invasive species”, as Sven puts it.