Board of Supervisors to decide on SFMTA fumbled land deal

S.F. Examiner File PhotoSFMTA transportation director Ed Reiskin says there's no other option except to lease the land for the agency's use.

The Board of Supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to approve a costly lease for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s towing operation after missing a chance to purchase the property for itself.

Last week, the board’s Budget and Finance Committee put the brakes on the deal, requesting more details. But Wednesday, the committee voted to send it to the full board for a vote, albeit without a recommendation.

Supervisors have raised questions about the deal, as has Budget Analyst Harvey Rose. Supervisor John Avalos said he isn’t sure if he can support it.

“We’ll see what happens on Tuesday,” he said.

What some supervisors find troubling is that the agency had considered buying the 13-acre Daly City site before the firm Prologis swooped in and bought it, forcing The City into a costlier deal.

Prologis paid $21 million in July 2011. Now the agency is seeking approval for a 20-year lease costing $71 million. The annual base rent of $2.4 million is $690,070 more than the agency’s current rent at Pier 70, which it has to vacate because of redevelopment.

Ed Reiskin, SFMTA transportation director, said his agency has no other option.

“While we can all kind of wish in hindsight that we had struck at the right time and were able to have purchased this property, that didn’t happen,” Reiskin said. “We don’t see that opportunity on other properties now or in the near future. … I don’t come at this lightly in making this request.”

Supervisor Jane Kim said she didn’t think the deal was good, but was satisfied by the agency’s effort.

“While I still think it’s not a great lease for The City, I actually do believe there was a thoughtful process and due diligence took place, which was really my concern at the end of the day,” she said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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