Nonprofits slapping Muni’s hand out of their pockets

Supervisor Scott Wiener is trying hard to fix Muni, but no one wants to pay for it. With $420 million in deferred maintenance and a $100 million deficit each year, the prospect of getting our public-transportation system on track is getting more remote.

One revenue stream for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is the Transit Impact Development Fee. All commercial developments larger than 3,000 square feet are assessed a fee (around $12 per square foot) that pays to offset the strain on our transportation system created by the development. Nonprofits — even big ones such as hospitals, universities and museums — have traditionally been exempt from the fee.

On Tuesday, Wiener tried to gin up some money for Muni by assessing the fee on nonprofits that build facilities larger than 25,000 square feet.

In support of Wiener’s proposal, Joel Ramos, a member of the agency’s board of directors, pleaded, “We can’t say enough about how bad our system is suffering.” He went on to say, “We can no longer continue on the status quo of exempting these large institutions that put such a strain on the system,” and “missed runs, overcrowded buses, all these things are what happen when we underfund our system.”

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd then reminded Ramos that he had just voted in favor of spending $1.6 million in Muni maintenance money on five months of free passes for low-income youths. Still, citing concerns about nonprofit schools in his district, Elsbernd voted to keep the exemption. So did every other supervisor except Wiener and Carmen Chu.

In related news, citywide enforcement of Sunday parking meters begins on Jan. 6, 2013.

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