Planting meters may save jobs

Installing parking meters in Golden Gate Park could generate an estimated $250,000 a year, Yomi Agunbiade, the head of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department told the agency’s governing board Thursday.

Having already slashed $3.4 million from its budget earlier this year — which included the elimination of several vacant gardening positions — the Recreation and Park Department was asked March 18 to cut an additional $2.85 million by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The parking-meter proposal, suggested by the Recreation and Park Commission, the department’s regulatory body, came as an alternative to slashing more positions. The commission made a similar proposal for meters in Golden Gate Park in 2003, but it was struck down by the Board of Supervisors.

“We feel that it’s the best of bad ideas,” park Commissioner Michael Sullivan said. “If it’s a choice between firing gardeners and severe program cuts, or raising revenue through innovative parking ideas, we’re going to go with the parking.”

The meters would likely be placed in the east side of the park, say park commissioners, although the cost of the meters, their time increments and their exact street locations is still undetermined, said park departmentspokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis, who added that the proposal still has a series of approval processes it must go through before it is implemented.

Fellow Recreation and Park Commissioner Jim Lazarus said the meters would cut down on commuters from the suburbs, who leave their car all day at the park for free.

“It’s a joke,” said San Francisco resident Andy Miller, 28, who parked his car in Golden Gate Park on Friday. “We’re already paying ridiculous amounts to park downtown, and now they’re talking about raising parking fines. You’re just left wondering, what’s next?”

San Francisco Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who voted against the parking meters in 2003, called the new proposal “a very anti-family move.”

“The department has plenty of other alternatives to generate revenue,” McGoldrick said.

It is unclear if the proposal will attain final approval from the Board of Supervisors or the Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors. In November, San Francisco voters passed Proposition A, a resolution that gives the MTA increased governance.

SFMTA spokesman Judson True said Golden Gate Park was not within the department’s jurisdiction, while McGoldrick said the new Prop. A rules mean the SFMTA would make the final decision on the proposal.

wreisman@examiner.com

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