A Muni measure once battled by downtown interests due to provisions that supported The City’s current parking space restrictions is now headed to the November ballot without organized opposition.
Measure A would give the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency greater governing authority and additional funding. If passed, the agency would be required to develop a “Climate Action Plan” and The City would not be able to increase the current restrictions on parking spaces unless it were approved by a supermajority of the Board of Supervisors.
Supporters of the charter amendment expressed concern that it may struggle to get votes due to its ballot language.
“The ballot never uses the word Muni,” said Jim Stearns, who is heading up the campaign for Measure A. “My understanding is that people are a little confused right now about what it’s about.”
Gabriel Metcalf, the executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, a public policy group that is cosponsoring the measure, said, “once people realize Prop. A is Muni reform, everyone wants to vote for it.”
Getting the most compelling message out to voters is just the latest challenge the measure has faced.
Earlier this year, San Francisco business interests organized around Measure H, which would have increased the amount of parking spaces that could be developed downtown. In response, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, the author of the Muni charter amendment, added a provision that would have negated the parking measure.
In August, Peskin agreed to author a compromise measure that allows for some parking space increases in certain parts of The City and would follow on the February 2008 ballot. In return, Measure H backers, which include Gap founder Don Fisher, agreed not to campaign for the pro-parking initiative.
Since that agreement, the Measure H campaign has not continued its fundraising, according to newly released political contribution documents, but stopped at the $113,750 it had secured as of July 22, according to campaign finance documents filed with San Francisco’s Ethics Commission.
The Yes on A campaign continues to push for its cause, and has raised more than $140,000, Peskin said.
Developers handily give to campaign
Considering that the battle between Measure A and Measure H had been characterized as being between business interests and transit advocates, the number of developers — and the generosity of their contributions — stands out on the list of Measure A contributors.
Of the $72,000 raised as of the latest filing deadline of Sept. 22, one-third of the funding came from three donations associated with California Mortgage Realty, a San Francisco firm that owns several parcels around the Transbay Terminal. Parkmerced Investors Properties gave $15,000 to Yes on A, as well as $10,000 to the No on H campaign.
“Any enlightened developer understands the history of downtown San Francisco is predicated on sensible parking polices and sound transit practices,” Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said.
A spokesperson for California Mortgage and Realty echoed Peskin’s assertion.
“The people of CMR believe, as do many others, in a public-transit-first approach,” Ron Heckmann wrote in an e-mail. “We work in downtown San Francisco and our employees commute via a variety of means.”