City says reduced fee for parking citation payment program boosting revenues

In what The City is calling a win-win, more people have signed up for parking and Muni citation payment plans since the fees to enroll were lowered in early March, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

That’s resulted in more revenue for The City while also allowing people to settle their tickets more cheaply.

Under the SFMTA’s previous regulations, enrolling in a citation payment plan cost those who were ticketed $60. As of March 1, low-income ticket payers could enroll in the payment plan for $5 and others could enroll in a payment plan for $25.

Lowering the fee for payment plans has caused the number of people paying their tickets to quadruple, according to data shared by the SFMTA.

From March 1 to May 1 this year, SFMTA reported 441 people signed up for payment plans, while last year during the same period only 96 people enrolled. Since more people were able to pay off their tickets, revenue to the SFMTA rose as well: last year in that two month period The City raked in $64,890, while this year the agency took in $223,993 in the same two-month period from ticket payers.

The fine payment changes came at the behest of Assembly Bill 503, authored by Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), which was approved last year. They were crafted in conjunction with Treasurer Jose Cisneros, who launched an initiative called the Financial Justice Project to urge San Francisco agencies to reduce burdens on low-income citizens.

That effort seems to be working, said Amanda Fried, a spokesperson for the Treasurer and Tax Collector’s Office, as 220 of those enrolled in SFMTA’s payment plan qualify as low-income earners.

“These latest proposed reforms will make a significant difference for San Franciscans living in poverty, and help low-income people keep their cars, jobs and livelihood,” Fried said, in a statement.

And the SFMTA isn’t finished reducing fines and fees. Tuesday, the SFMTA Board of Directors will consider approval of a plan to reduce towing and boot fees. Under the new fee structure, the fee to remove a boot from a car will be $100 for those who qualify as low-income, and $505 generally.

Right now, the SFMTA offers a discount on towing fees for those who are low income and experiencing their first tow — $86, compared to the full fee of $261. The new proposal would eliminate that SFMTA fee for those who are low income, regardless of whether or not it’s their first tow. That SFMTA fee does not include the $229 payment to towing vendors.

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