Ballot proposal would address service disparities for Muni

San Francisco’s planned investment boost for its troubled public transportation system has become embroiled in politics as transit-tax measures are being eyed for the November 2014 ballot. On Tuesday, Supervisor John Avalos, with the backing of supervisors Eric Mar, David Campos and Jane Kim, introduced a charter amendment proposal for the ballot that would set aside $70 million to address transit service disparities in low-income communities. The funding would be generated from a vehicle license-tax increase being eyed for the same ballot.

The amendment would also support the free Muni for youth program, limit fare hikes and authorize a transit impact fee on market-rate development. A smaller portion of the funding would go toward capital needs.

The introduction comes prior to the anticipated results of Mayor Ed Lee’s 2030 Transportation Task Force.

Surrounded by community groups such as POWER and the Chinatown Community Development Center, Avalos said, “Disparities are widening in the social fabric and many people are falling far behind. And more than ever city government must be responsive to these changes that promote equity.” Community groups have criticized the task force for catering to the downtown core and the technology industry.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who serves on the task force, denounced the proposed charter amendment. Wiener said it would “divert transit funding away from system reliability needs” and that the proposal is “pitting low-income people against middle-income people.”

“Our communities are intertwined when it comes to Muni,” Wiener said. “Transit serves everyone, and we all rise or fall together when it comes to transit reliability.”

It would take six votes to place the amendment on the ballot.

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