BART long-term parking plan could hinder cities

A proposal by BART to offer long-term airport parking at its Peninsula stations could cut into city revenues generated from fees on private parking companies.

Most cities with a BART station charge from 5 percent to 10 percent on gross receipts on private airport parkers — the equivalent of between $80,000 to as much as $1 million a year depending on the city. But city coffers, not to mention the parking companies themselves, could take a hit if travelers opt to take advantage of BART’s cheaper prices.

Overnight parking at a private company generally starts at about $12 a day and goes up, but under a proposal going before BART’s governing board next week, the commuter train agency would charge just $6 a day, making travelers think twice. That’s just what BART hopes, according to BART spokesman Linton Johnson, who estimates the agency stands to make as much as $570,000 a year from long-term parking.

San Bruno Finance Director Jim O’Leary said his city makes more than $450,000 a year from SkyPark, the city’s lone parking company.

While representing just more than 1 percent of the city’s $30 million annual budget, it’s money the city doesn’t want to lose, O’Leary said.

Competition for San Bruno’s only private airport parker, in the form of a new long-term parking structure at South Airport and San Bruno avenues, has already led SkyPark to request a temporary reduction in the city’s 8 percent tax on receipts.

“The City Council voted to reduce the tax to 3.5 percent from January to June 2007 and to 5 percent from July to December,” O’Leary said. After that, the tax will revert to 8 percent if no council action is taken, he said.

San Bruno isn’t alone. South San Francisco brings in more than $1 million annually from multiple private airport parking companies with its 8 percent tax on receipts. Director of Finance Jim Steele said this is an amount the city can little afford to do without.

In smaller cities such as Millbrae and Burlingame that depend less on airport parking funds, officials said that while lost funds wouldn’t be welcome, the cities could find a way to cope.

The BART board plans to take up the proposal for long-term parking on the Peninsula at its meeting on June 14.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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