As The City’s transit agency continues to investigate ways to increase parking costs for motorists in downtown San Francisco, it’s backing off on efforts to charge its own employees to park.
In April, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees parking and Muni, approved a measure to make its employees pay for parking in agency-owned lots and garages. The proposal was projected to generate $1.3 million annually for the agency, and was originally set to be implemented by Sept. 1. The SFMTA is currently facing a $21.2 million deficit for this fiscal year.
However, the agency has yet to implement the policy — which proposed charging SFMTA employees $80 a month — and on Tuesday, the board delayed a vote on approving fines for violations of the rule.
The decision comes at the same time the agency is ramping up efforts to enforce a long-dormant ordinance regarding parking rates in downtown lots. The SFMTA would prohibit monthly parking discounts and early-bird deals, in favor of flat hourly rates. If current hourly rates were enforced, monthly parking costs for motorists could increase to $1,050 — 13 times the amount the SFMTA had proposed charging its own workers.
The board offered no insight about its decision to delay the vote, which would have amended the vehicle code to allow parking control officers to fine SFMTA employees $55 for non-compliance with the new rules.
SFMTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said the board opted to delay the decision due to concerns about low morale among agency transit operators. Ford said the board wanted to vet the issues one more time before implementing the policy, but he conceded that there was a possibility that SFMTA employees might not pay for parking on department property. He said it is a policy decision that must be decided by the board, which entered into closed session to discuss the topic on Tuesday.
Rafael Cabrera, spokesman for the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents about 2,200 Muni operators, said he had no prior knowledge about the agency’s decision to back off on charging for parking, but he called the delay “a good thing.”
The SFMTA also has begun barring the use of any parking placards not produced by the agency. In the past, workers from other city departments crafted informal permits to park at metered spots for free. Now, each city employee must pay $80 a month for an official permit. That measure is projected to garner $1.5 million annually for the agency.
The cash-strapped SFMTA is looking for ways to close its budget deficit and has considered charging its workers for parking.
1,069 Free parking spaces available for SFMTA employees
5,000 Agency employees
$80 Monthly fee proposed by agency for workers to park
$1.5 million Projected revenue generated annually by measure
$21.2 million Current SFMTA deficit