Avalos Calls for Charter Amendment to Reform MTA Board; Rally Monday

mta_board.jpgMembers of the MTA Board, who are appointed by the Mayor. Photo by Bryan Goebel.

San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos is proposing a charter amendment "that will provide greater checks and balances and independence for the MTA Board of Directors." Avalos, along with other supervisors and transit advocates, plan to announce their own MTA budget proposals (PDF) and rally on the steps of City Hall Monday:

The proposed Transit Justice Package proposes increased parking fees in certain parts of the City on Sundays and evenings, eliminating public subsidy in the City’s parking garages, rolling back some fare increases and safe guarding access for low income MUNI riders. 

Avalos and Supervisors Campos and Mirkarimi, sitting on the Budget and Finance Committee, voted again this week to reject the MTA budget, which calls for fare hikes and service reductions to deal with a $129 million deficit. Avalos sent a letter to the MTA Board late Friday explaining his proposed charter amendment:

I have asked the City Attorney to draft a Charter Amendment that would allow for a more balanced approach to appointing members of the MTA board.  The amendment provides the mayor with three appointments, the [Board of Supervisors] with three appointments and a yet to be determined independent government entity with one appointment to the MTA board. I know this may cause you some alarm, but the true nature of the proposals is to ensure that MTA has greater independence to make budgetary and policy decisions on this very important city department.

A charter amendment requires six votes of the Board of Supervisors to place on the ballot. The deadline for supervisors to introduce measures for the November ballot is Tuesday, the date of their next meeting. The rally Monday will be held at 3pm at City Hall on the Polk Street steps. We’ll be staffing and tweeting the latest news.

  • There’s no doubt that the MTA’s structure leaves a lot to be desired, but is it really wise to rush through a charter amendment right now, without really considering a full package of reforms?

    We have a tendency, particularly on the progressive side, of putting stuff like this on the ballot, running absolutely no campaign, no communication with voters and the thing goes poof. This is too important to rush , esp. based on only what’s going on “now” and not looking at the future. That’s as bad as the Mayor’s half assed planning and budgeting.

  • david vartanoff

    Indeed, tweaking the MTA–a mistake in itself IMHO, is NOT the issue. Electing Supes who actually support city services as opposed to paychecks to contributors(that includes unions!) and are not cowed by loud SOV drivers is difficult. And a Mayor who actually cares as opposed to punching a ticket fir further office equally rare. A microcosm of the entire state. Referenda carve out niche benefits but do not repair the dysfunctional elected crooks.

  • Yeah, seriously. Muni’s broke, but rearranging deck chairs isn’t what’s going to fix it. It’s the people, not the policies. We can start by electing a mayor who actually DOES green, rather than just talk about it.

  • CBrinkman

    If car drivers get one day every week when they can park for free, and it’s free after 6 or 8 pm – shouldn’t Muni be free at those times as well? Free Muni every Sunday and after 6 or 8pm. There – that’s more equitable.

  • David Schneider

    Although the figures may be changing in SFMTA budget realityland, around 4/30/09 Muni was129 million in the hole, chump change when you consider that they can bail out AIG. The kicker is that under the federal stimulus only capital expenses are funded, not operating. But there are nationwide systemic SOLUTIONS . . . have our local officials asked for them, been diligent and have been unwilling to take no for an answer?
    Pelosi could fix that with an omnibus national local public transportation funding bill; indeed if you go to SF streets blog some of our progressive citizens in the LA area have discovered that such operating funds may be available through DOT.
    Even our progressive Supes Daly, Campos, Avalos, Mirkarimi and Mar don’t seem to get that one and are perhaps somewhat anesthetized by the defacto hypercapitalists although there may be time to stand up for the people. Chiu could rethink his premature scuttling of his own motion to reject if he wants to become a people’s player. Like Campos he was educated at Harvard Law but whether Harvard Law is for the people or the ruling class is a most interesting question. You basically can forget about Elsbernd, Maxwell, Chu and Dufty and Alioto-Pier representatives of Russian Hill and Castro type greedy yuppies.

    . . . Dave Schneider

  • bmtea

    Why turn Muni into a social justice issue? I hate how any discussion about Muni automatically turns into debates about “transportation for the poor” and such. That misses the roots of Muni’s problems. I live in Avalos’ district and the main two transportation problems I see is rampant fare cheating and too many damn cars.

  • And folks, PLEASE remember that 80 million of this year’s deficit was created when Arnie S. and the Democratic Legislature wiped out the transit assistance program the state has been running for 30+ years. Over the last few years, arnie and his democratic allies have guttied $5 billion from transit statewide, because Arnie hates transit (and if Gavin wins, I’m sure he’ll continue this trend, and probably end up taxing transit to pay for more staff in Sacto).

    All of these fiddling at the margins things are well intentioned, but until you come up with some way we as a city/county can find a stable way to plug the financial hole created by a poorly run State government that loots local gov’t money AND limits the ability of local governments to raise the money on their own to implement their vision of how they want to live, we’re really missing the point.

    It’s not as much fun to talk about as things that make us have an emotional response, but that is reality. Avalos deserves praise for trying to make the best of a crummy situation, but this is really just a sidebar, not the main conversation we need to have.

    If, of course, we had a Mayor or an MTA that chose to lead and do something bold here, we wouldn’t be having any of these blog discussions. Or anyone.

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