The Board of Supervisors will try again on an MTA budget, voting 7-4 this afternoon to delay a motion to reject it. Instead, they’ll hold a special meeting Wednesday, May 27th, at noon.
The delay, requested by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, came after Supervisor Sophie Maxwell indicated a change of heart on parking. Maxwell, considered a swing vote on the rejection motion, had previously indicated she was against adding Sunday and evening parking enforcement, measures Supervisor John Avalos, some of his colleagues and transit advocates have demanded be put back in the budget to more equitably balance it between drivers and Muni riders.
“I too have come to a different feeling about parking. I mean, I was one who said I don’t know about Sundays and I don’t know about 10 [p.m.] but I am reconsidering and I think a lot of other people could too, so I think it’s something that should really be put on the table.”
Maxwell asked MTA Chief Nat Ford how soon an MTA study on parking would take. As part of a "compromise" reached with Board President David Chiu last week, Ford agreed to study increasing parking enforcement downtown from 6 to 8 p.m. Advocates, however, have proposed that Ford’s original plan to enforce parking until 10 p.m. be added back in.
“My concern is that without pressure maybe the discussion won’t happen because the parking issues are something that we need to look at and I want to look at it sooner rather than later," said Maxwell.
Ford indicated that more parking measures will be studied and brought before the MTA Board, especially in light of the fact that the agency is now facing an additional $13 million gap, due to the recent rejection of an SEIU contract and more state budget impacts.
While not giving a specific time line, Ford responded: “It will be something that we’re looking at very quickly.” He had earlier indicated additional parking measures would not be added without consultation with the MTA Board and the Mayor’s office, which is opposed to adding more parking revenue in the budget.
Maxwell’s comments came after Avalos, who told Streetsblog San Francisco he gets around mostly by car but occasionally rides Muni and his bicycle, said he believes "times have changed" on parking enforcement.
"I think that there’s a different feeling on moving forward on revenue from parking that didn’t exist before. We have the Chamber of Commerce, which is actually supportive of Sunday and evening parking metering and enforcement," Avalos said. "I would say that my opinion has evolved as well. I actually saw some of these things as the third rail, which would never fly, but the more I think about how we need to do what’s best for the environment and what’s best for riders my position has changed and I think other colleagues have as well."
Supervisors Bevan Dufty, Carmen Chu, Michela Alioto-Pier and Sean Elsbernd voted against delaying the rejection motion.
Said Dufty: "Given the lack of investment that this city has made in its own transportation infrastructure over many years and many politicians using Muni as a whipping post to gain and score political points the reality is in this country there has never been the type of investment that we’ve seen in European countries.”
Chiu, meantime, responding to a question from Elsbernd, seemed to indicate support for his colleagues trying to force more changes in the MTA budget.
Elsbernd to Chiu: “We have four members of the Board who have already articulated they’re supporting the budget. Supervisor Maxwell has indicated she is interested. This is only worth doing if you are interested in reopening this budget. You said you wanted to table the budget based on the compromise last week. Supervisor Maxwell said she’s open to changing. If you are not interested the votes will not be there, we do not need to go through this exercise of scheduling a meeting."
Chiu responded: "I will tell you at this time I still think there is a lot of room for us to talk about where we can move things forward and like Supervisor Maxwell I do think there is additional information we can get from Mr. Ford to illuminate this and hopefully get us to a budget that we do not have to reject."