Lot operators worry about SFO fee 

Parking lot operators near the airport are fighting a new fee they say threatens their businesses.

The San Francisco International Airport wants to raise revenue by charging nearby parking lot operators who drive shuttles to the airport a “privilege fee,” which is done at other airports.

Those operating lots near SFO say the fee would drive them out of business as they struggle to compete with hotels offering long-term parking and larger operators who could absorb the additional cost without passing it onto customers.

The airport had proposed an 8 percent fee on total gross revenue of off-airport parking operators, but later decreased the fee to 2.5 percent with it increasing to 5 percent July 1, 2011. The fees are expected to bring in $730,000 in additional revenue for the airport and $1.5 million the subsequent year. The San Jose airport currently charges an 8 percent fee and the Oakland airport a 4 percent fee.

“We don’t want to go under,” said Amy Chung of Anza Parking Corp. “We want to pay our fair share in supporting the airport. We are partners in business after all. But we don’t want to die.”

Robert Simms, president of Park SFO, said the fee comes at a bad time and would impact rates.

“At this time, we are gradually making some progress and getting to the point where our heads are above water and we can begin to pay our mortgage folks,” Simms said. “However, this new tax on our gross receipts represents an additional burden that would be impossible for us to bear.”

Airport Director John Martin has agreed to discuss the proposal with the parking lot operators and had a personal meeting with them Thursday morning.

“I agreed that we would not take any action until at least January,” Martin told members of the Board of Supervisors.

He said more in-depth talks with parking lot operators would begin in September with a proposal to go before the Airport Commission in January.

“Many U.S. airports charge a privilege fee. I would like to make progress toward realizing more money from off-airport parking operators,” Martin said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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