Newsom: Let Muni cams tape bus lane culprits

Mayor Gavin Newsom is lobbying for the power to penalize drivers for parking violations in transit-only lanes and during street sweeping hours using videotaped evidence.

Newsom testified Tuesday before the state Senate Judiciary Committee in support of a bill that will provide for forward-facing cameras on Muni buses and on street sweepers to take video of cars that are illegally parked.

State legislation is required for The City to implement the new enforcement tool because California law only has provisions for the use of cameras to capture evidence of red-light and speed-limit violations — not for parking enforcement. In May, the Assembly unanimously passed AB 101, authored by San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, which is now in the state Senate.

Under current city law, the fine for parking in a transit-only zone is $250, according to MTA spokeswoman Maggie Lynch.

Newsom told the state Senate committee that illegally parked cars getin the way of The City’s public transportation vehicles, preventing Muni vehicles from staying on schedule.

“We’ve got to improve that reliability and make sure the streets are unclogged,” said Newsom, who noted that former Mayor Willie Brown tried to tackle the perennial problem by putting parking control officers on the buses who would jump out to ticket illegal vehicles in Muni’s path.

“There are 15 miles of transit-only lanes. The City does not have the capacity to constantly monitor all of these transportation routes,” Ma told her Sacramento colleagues.

San Francisco has transit-only lanes on many of its traffic thoroughfares, including Geary, Market, Mission, O’Farrell, Post, Potrero and Sacramento streets.

A former San Francisco supervisor, Ma also told the Senate Judiciary Committee that putting the cameras on street sweepers would allow The City to use its parking and traffic control officers for “higher priorities.”

Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable Cities, a pro-public transit nonprofit, said a study done by a staff member outlined the success of video enforcement in other cities, such as London, which saw a 92 percent reduction in citations due to its video enforcement.

The mayor also testified in Sacramento on Tuesday on behalf of two other bills authored by Ma: AB 1278, which addresses the crime of human trafficking, and AB 1062, which would establish a three-year pilot program to provide rental assistance for 1,500 CalWORKs families.

beslinger@examiner.com

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?

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