Legal effort to strike parking initiative fails

A legal motion to remove a controversial parking initiative off the November ballot was rejected Thursday by a San Francisco Superior Court judge.

Public transit advocate Tom Radulovich, a BART board director, sued to remove Measure H — an initiative that would increase the number of parking spaces allowed per residential unit built in The City.

The lawsuit argued that a factual error on the petition that qualified the measure for the ballot invalidated every signature collected. The petition summary, prepared by the City Attorney’s Office, understated the amount of parking permitted in certain downtown zoning districts — stating that up to one space for every three units was permitted, when in downtown residential districts up to one car for each unit is permitted.

“The voters are deciding on something that reached the ballot on false pretenses,” said Michael Sweet, the lawyer handling the lawsuit.

On Thursday, the City Attorney’s Office acknowledged the error.

“Our position is that the error was immaterial,” City Attorney spokesperson Matt Dorsey said. “At the same time, we acknowledge that it is an important principle for voters to have a right to accurate information.”

Superior Court Judge Peter Busche denied the request, noting that the ballot language itself would not contain the error.

The hearing was the latest scuffle in an ongoing battle over the parking measure, which has pitted downtown business interests and public-transit supporters.

Earlier this month, Supervisor Aaron Peskin — who put a Muni charter amendment on the November ballot that includes a provision that would negate the parking measure — agreed to a compromise measure that will follow on the February 2008 ballot. In return, Measure H backers agreed to not campaign for the pro-parking initiative.

Peskin’s compromise allows for at least one parking space for each housing unit constructed in the western part of The City; it also allows developers to build parking garages in the South of Market area, west of Sixth Street.

beslinger@examiner.com

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