County eyes drivers as deficit fix

Bay Area drivers, already battling record transportation costs, may soon have to pay more to park at San Francisco International Airport.

A new proposed parking tax would apply to all sites in unincorporated San Mateo County that charge for parking, such as restaurants, hotels and SFO. The amount of the tax has not been determined but would likely be around 8 percent to 10 percent of the total sales of each parking lot, said deputy County Counsel John Beiers.

Revenue from parking lots at the airport will be affected since the the site is an extension of the county’s unincorporated area, Beiers said. He said the tax to parking lot owners will be passed on to consumers.

The airport has 7,653 hourly parking spaces and 4,205 long-term spots, according to airport data. It currently costs $14 for long-term daily parking at SFO and $1 per 12 minutes for short-term parking. The airport last increased its parking fees in April 2007.

The increase is expected to raise an estimated $5 million annually, which would be used to offset an expected $90 million deficit the county faces during the next five years.

“We have to take actions now to find ways to close that gap,” county Supervisor Rich Gordon said. He said an auto-related tax would also help the county’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

San Bruno, South San Francisco and Burlingame impose similar parking fees.

Some of the tax revenue would be earmarked for residents of unincorporated areas, who make up 9 percent of the county’s population. Portions of it could also be spent on general services that serve the entire populace.

County officials first discussed the idea of a parking tax a few years ago, but the discussions resurfaced recently because of the pressing need to bring in more money during these challenging financial times, said Supervisor Mark Church, chair of the county committee. He said consumers will likely be hit in the wallet but that the tax would not be a significant financial burden.

The finance committee will decide Wednesday whether to recommend the ordinance to the Board of Supervisors, which would have until its Aug. 5 meeting to vote on placing the measure on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. A majority of the county’s voters would have to approve the measure for it to pass.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

By the numbers

Facts about San Mateo County’s proposed parking tax.

8 percent-10 percent: Likely amount of tax

$14: Cost at SFO long-term parking

$1 per 12 minutes: Cost at SFO short-term parking

$5 million: Estimated annual revenue from tax

50 percent plus one: Votes needed to pass tax

Aug. 5: Deadline for county to put tax on ballot

Nov. 4: Election date

Source: San Mateo County, San Francisco International Airport

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