Proposition E: Higher parking tax is rejected

The City’s private parking garages will not be hit with a 10 percent tax increase, voters decided Tuesday.

Proposition E, backed by Supervisor Chris Daly and the Sierra Club, was touted as a way to relieve downtown congestion by using the additional tax money to help fund the cash-strapped Muni and encourage the use of mass transit.

Last year, the 25 percent tax yielded $55.18 million, with $22.06 million benefiting the MTA. The remaining $33.12 million went to the City’s operating budget.

Currently, 20 percent of the parking tax revenues go into the coffers of the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni.

Parking garage owners and the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco joined forces in creating the group, No on Proposition E, which spent about $250,000 to oppose the measure. Opponents say the tax would hurt working people who drive into The City to earn a living.

“People say they don’t want to pay more taxes, both rich and poor,” said Marc Intermaggio, executive director of BOMA. “This would have disproportionately affected the working people.”

San Francisco’s tax is the third highest nationally, only after Pittsburgh and Chicago, which uses a sliding scale of up to 45 percent.

Opponents have also charged that the current tax has not been properly collected and that those parking garage owners who have been paying the tax will be punished by the measure.

The defeat of the proposition wasn’t a surprise to Supervisor Chris Daly, who said the tax would have been paid largely by out-of-town commuters and benefited those who ride the local transportation system.

A recent study found that nearly two-thirds of monthly parkers in city-owned garages downtown reside outside The City.

In 1970, The City passed a 25 percent parking tax, the proceeds of which went into The City’s operating fund, which pay for such services as police, fire, health services and civil service. In 1993 voters passed Proposition M, which designate that 40 percent of the tax be earmarked for Muni.

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