A vote to charge vehicles a toll for entering and exiting Treasure Island was put on hold Tuesday after island residents protested, saying it would hurt them financially.
Residents who spoke at a hearing Tuesday said that for a community with only limited services – just a single grocery store, no pharmacy, no gas station and no public schools – adding additional barriers to entering and leaving the island would impose an unfair burden.
“A lot of people live on Treasure Island because they have no other place to be,” one woman said, tears running down her cheeks. “A lot of people are pushed here because they cannot afford anywhere else.”
“This is a vote against the working class,” said Steve Zeltzer of United Public Workers for Action. “I don’t know if we have to go to the ballot to stop this.”
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority held seven outreach events on the island between Sept. 9 and Nov. 27, but during public comment many residents said news of the proposed toll had taken them by surprise.
Paris Hayes, a 14-year resident of the island, said he went door-to-door and passed out flyers at stores. He said none of the people he spoke with were aware of the proposal.
“You don’t knock on doors. I did,” Hayes said.
“We need to continue this vote to allow more outreach to happen,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes Treasure Island.
Eric Young, a spokesperson for SFCTA, said about 100 people attended an open house SFCTA held on Sept. 27 at the Shipe Shape Community Center on the island, when there was an influx of attention following a San Francisco Examiner story.
“That generated awareness about the open house. We had great turnout there,” Young said.
Young said they also met with about 25 businesses at listening sessions targeting business owners.
Treasure Island is home to 600 households today, but that number is expected to climb to 8,000 households by 2035 with the planned construction of new housing developments. The toll, which wouldn’t start until 2021, is intended to alleviate additional congestion on the Bay Bridge and to pay for a new ferry service and AC transit line coming to the island.
The plan calls for current Treasure Island households to receive a monthly $300 stipend for five years to help offset the additional costs, which would be the cash equivalent of making two round-trip journeys to the San Francisco mainland every weekday.
But even with the stipend, many residents weren’t happy with the proposal. Several supervisors seemed to agree.
“Families and people don’t live in isolation. People come to see you, family comes to see you, friends come to see you, caregivers come on a daily basis,” said Supervisor Sandra Fewer. “These are people that would need to pay the toll – not just the families.”
“We’re kind of punishing people for having children and living on the island,” Supervisor Vallie Brown said, pointing out that there are no public schools on the island and that parents driving children to and from school would be forced to travel during peak toll hours.
Business owners said the toll would negatively affect them, too.
“I have customers saying they will not come out to Treasure Island,” said Jim Mirowski, owner of Treasure Island Wines. “I have employees saying they will not be hired by me if there’s a toll.”
The hearing Tuesday was held before members of the Board of Supervisors, who met in their capacity as the Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency Board, which must approve any new toll.
The board will take up the matter again after several newly elected supervisors take their seats in January. A meeting date has not been set.
|Details of proposed toll:|
• Weekdays, 5am to 10am, and 3pm to 7pm: $3.50
• Weekends, 8am to 8pm: $2
• Drivers coming from Oakland would receive 50% discount
• Drivers without FasTrak would pay $1 more
• Current households would receive $300/month stipend for five years
• Residents could earn free toll credit for every 10 one-way public transit trips on or off the island
• Additional subsidies available for low-income residents
Source: San Francisco County Transportation Authority