SFMTA backs down on rates for parking meter reservation

A controversial plan to charge festival backers, film crews and construction firms more than $20 an hour to close a metered parking space has been toned down, but the reworked plan will cost the debt-ridden San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency $500,000.

Currently, only construction and building crews pay the $4 fee to use metered spaces for all-day storage of trucks, trash containers and other equipment. Last year, the SFMTA proposed increasing that to $22.50 per meter and extending the charge to street festivals, athletic events, and film and video shoots. That is the maximum amount a meter can earn per day.

But following an outcry from an array of businesses and organizations, including The City’s Film Commission, the SFMTA shelved its initiative.

On Tuesday, it came back with a more modest proposal, which would increase fees for reserved meters to $5 a day and only affect building and construction companies.

According to SFMTA documents, the average meter brings in $4.72 to $4.86 a day in parking revenue, so the increase in reservation fees is strictly a cost-recovery initiative.

On Tuesday, the transit agency’s Policy and Governance Committee recommended approval of the reworked proposal. It still must go before the board of directors for final authorization.

Sean Keighran, the president of the Residential Builders Association of San Francisco, said the final proposal was much more equitable to his industry, which has seen a 94 percent decline in new building permits since 2007 and suffers from a 30 percent unemployment rate.

Keighran said his organization’s persistent lobbying helped persuade the SFMTA to scale back its plan.

“The increase to $22.50 per meter would have been devastating,” Keighran said.

By dropping its initial proposal, the SFMTA will lose about $500,000 in budgeted revenue for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, according to agency spokesman Paul Rose.

That loss is one contributor to the SFMTA’s projected $21.2 million budget shortfall, which must be made up in the next 4½ months.

Agency officials said they can reconcile the deficit by focusing on efforts to cite parking scofflaws and cut down on employee overtime. Although the revamped proposal appears poised for final approval, it is unlikely to end there.

The SFMTA said it will re-examine the initiative during the 2012-13 fiscal year, which starts in the middle of next year.

That prospect concerned local festival producer Steven Restivo.

“If the originally proposed increases ever go into effect, it will kill me,” said Restivo, who manages the Fillmore Jazz and Union Street festivals, among other events. “I understand The City needs money, but it’s getting to the point where I just can’t afford this anymore.”


Pay scale

$4 Current fee to reserve meter for a day
$22.50 Fee increase proposed in September
$5 Revised fee increase
$4-$6 Fee to reserve meter for a day in Sacramento
$5 Fee to reserve meter for a day in San Jose
$19.79 Fee to reserve meter for a day in Oakland

Source: SFMTA

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