Officials agree: Measure C fair, beneficial

City officials are optimistic that Measure C, a ballot measure that would force San Francisco International Airport to pay some of its long-term parking revenue to South City, represents a good deal for all, including the airport.

The city is looking at about $1 million a year — should the ballot measure pass next month — from the airport’s long-term lot, which opened in June 2006. The lot, which added more than 800 spots to the total, is technically located in South City.

Though attorneys for both the city and airport disagreed about whether the airport was exempt from paying taxes because it operates as a government agency, both parties agreed that 8 percent of the total revenue from that lot was a fair price to pay, Mayor Rich Garbarino said.

The airport originally paid 1 percent, or $150,000, after the City Attorney’s Office asked for a cut of revenue, Garbarino said. Measure C funds would go to city services, and would kick in at the start of 2009.

Though city finances indicate it is doing well — the city is in its fourth year of a balanced budget — officials say they need to start planning for the future and bulking up reserves.

Approval of Measure C means the city would rewrite ordinances to tax parking customers 8 percent of their fees, rather than taxing the gross income of the structure altogether.

Despite the hit the airport would take in taxes, Garbarino said he was optimistic the rates of $13 daily would not drive people away from the lot, should prices be raised after the tax goes into effect in 2009. Airport representatives were unavailable for comment on the measure.

Operators at private long-term lots, which are located in South San Francisco, San Bruno, Burlingame and Millbrae, are critical of the low airport parking fees, saying they had the benefit of not paying taxes to cities like private owners are required to.

tramroop@examiner.com

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