Plans to increase parking fees are revving up in San Francisco

Extending parking meter hours and enforcing meters on Sundays — proposals that received strong backlashes when they were first broached last year — are once again gaining support from the body that governs the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

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The agency, which oversees Muni and all ground transportation plans in The City, is facing a two-year projected budget deficit of $79.7 million. On Monday, most of the seven-person board of directors, including Chairman Tom Nolan, indicated support for using parking meter revenue to help make up that shortfall.

“Everything now has to be on the table, including parking meter extensions and weekend parking meters,” said SFMTA board member Bruce Oka. “I think Muni riders have long paid more than their share for the agency’s deficit and I think it’s time that other stakeholders pay more.”

Extending parking meter hours — to as late as midnight in some neighborhoods during the weekends — would bring in an additional $9 million annually to the SFMTA. Enforcing parking on Sunday would result in $2.8 million each year.

While the SFMTA board of directors is the sole policymaker for the agency, the members of the body said it was crucial to get political support for the parking meter plans.

Last year, former Mayor Gavin Newsom voiced opposition to extending parking meter hours, effectively killing the plans without much discussion. Support was also scant from the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said that there is political will on the board now to support extending parking meter hours, but he didn’t think the program should be enforced citywide.
 
Commercial corridors heavy with dining establishments, such as Columbus Street, would be ideal locations for the extended parking meter hours, Elsbernd said.

“I think there are enough supervisors who understand what this will mean for parking turnover: thriving businesses and meter revenue for the SFMTA,” Elsbernd said. “I think we appreciate that balance.”

But Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for Mayor Ed Lee, said the mayor “is not convinced that Sunday and night meters or fare increases are the right way to go, given their impacts to small business and Muni riders.” Lee has asked SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin to come back with other
alternatives, Falvey said.

Eric Howell, a Potrero Hill resident and vehicle owner, called the plans to extend parking meter hours a “new tax” against drivers.

“I’m against the principle of this idea,” Howell said. “They could achieve the same savings through administration cuts.”

Monday was the first time the SFMTA board weighed in on the agency’s two-year budget outlook. The board is not scheduled to approve a final budget until April 17.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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