Peninsula, SF drivers might be hit with new fees

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, thus contributing to cracks and potholes in the road, so drivers should pay a little extra for repair work.

At least, that is the theory behind a measure on the Nov. 2 ballot that would increase by $10 the fee drivers pay when they register their automobile in San Francisco and on the Peninsula.

In fact, voters will have a chance to increase their vehicle license fee twice on one ballot as state officials are proposing a vehicle license surcharge of $18, which would help fund state parks and wildlife programs that have been affected by budget cuts.

If both fees are approved, drivers in San Francisco and San Mateo counties would have to pay a total of $28 extra when they register their vehicles each year.

The $10 that San Francisco’s Proposition AA would tack on to the fee would go toward three uses — 50 percent for street repairs and reconstruction, and 25 percent each for pedestrian-safety and public transit projects.

The same fee would be attached to San Mateo County drivers’ registration fees if Measure M is passed. In that county, $5 would go toward maintaining roads and the other $5 would be dedicated to transportation programs, particularly for seniors and disabled residents.

Most counties in the state have a similar measure on their ballots because of a bill passed allowing them to take such action. California has historically had vehicle license fees, but they were removed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was elected. However, he has endorsed the plans to reinstate them.

San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi led the effort to put Prop. AA on the ballot. He said the two polls that have asked registered voters about the measure have come back with more than 60 percent support — much higher than the 50 percent needed for it to pass.

“This is a very modest proposal and it’s going to go for critically important needs that affect everybody,” Mirkarimi said.
But not everyone agrees that now is the time to impose the new fee, or that it is needed. Douglas McNea, president of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association, said the public already pays for transportation improvements with other taxes.

“The basic message is we’re taxed enough already,” he said.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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