Sean Parker, he of Napster, Facebook, Timberlake, and $4.5 million wedding ceremony fame, has donated $49,000 to back a voter initiative to give more of a voice to San Francisco motorists.
The bill, which will appear on the San Francisco ballot in November, bears the vague title “Restore Transportation Balance”. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, it includes provisions increasing the availability of parking, the limiting of parking fees and meters and the amounts of parking tickets, and enforcing traffic laws as they pertain to bicyclists.
The measure would also roll back Sunday parking meter fees, except that already happened. As I wrote last week, the San Francisco Mass Transportation Agency has an avowed policy position of limiting the number of cars on San Francisco streets and incentivizing the use of mass transit, shared vehicles, bicycles and other transportation efforts that alleviate environmental harm and congestion.
The initiative, found here, would push back against that position by reasserting the interests of drivers and ensuring those interests are represented in city government, as part of a broad “balanced transportation” policy. Other backers of the measure include the Coalition of San Francisco Neighborhoods, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Republican Party.
In recent years, Parker has distanced himself from his image as a bad-boy disruptor and has become a prolific campaign donor. This spring he held high profile fundraisers for California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Silicon Valley favorite Ro Khanna. Politico reported earlier today that in Q1 2014, Parker donated $350,000 to a super-PAC supporting the reelection of Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran against a Tea Party challenger, among several other donations to both GOP and Democratic Party candidates.
Additionally, Parker is the founder and executive chairman of a stealth-mode startup called Brigade Media, which is yet to release a product to meet its mission to increase citizen engagement and empowerment. Brigade raised a $9.3 million first round of funding earlier this year, and last month acquired Causes, a Facebook-based online campaign platform that Parker founded in 2007.
Clearly, Parker is a man who hopes to be among the leading lights at the crossroads of civics and technology, along with such notables as Ron Conway and Marc Benioff. A socially responsible billionaire who will mobilize his deep pockets to ward off corruption, stagnation and apathy from the hallowed halls of American politics. Which is, of course, what democracy is all about these days.
But why does he care about the MTA’s parking policies? Is this just the way billionaires vent after one-too-many tickets? And does a ballot measure for car-driver’s rights, funded by a tech billionaire and the local Republican and Libertarian parties have a prayer when facing the San Francisco voting public?
[illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pando]