After months of opposing an extension of parking meter enforcement hours, Mayor Newsom may be finally open to a limited proposal that would help reduce Muni’s staggering budget deficit. The Chronicle’s Heather Knight and The Appeal’s Chris Roberts report that Newsom is still against extending weekday metering to evenings, but has come around on the idea of Sunday enforcement, which would raise an estimated $2-3 million dollars annually. Knight writes:
The mayor is open to charging drivers to park at meters on Sundays
because he said merchants have told him it helps car turnover near
their shops rather than allowing people to park all day long for free.
That’s also what an MTA study on extended meter hours found, and what we’ve reported extensively. San Francisco lags behind many other cities in this regard. Los Angeles, Long Beach, Glendale, Pasadena, Montreal and Princeton,
New Jersey are examples of cities that have implemented parking
enforcement on Sundays.
Unfortunately, on weekday evening metering, Newsom remains spooked by Oakland’s experience.
"Just look at the East Bay and the revolt," he told Knight. A vocal group of Oakland business owners and residents protested vigorously when their city council changed meter hours last year, but the parallel is a shaky one since Oakland’s meter hour changes were far less targeted than the MTA proposal. The agency has done a considerable amount of outreach to merchants and community groups.
In response to complaints from Muni riders that they’re getting hit
harder by the MTA’s budget
deficit than drivers, Newsom repeated the same argument he made to us last year: that drivers have had a threefold increase in parking meter rates downtown over the past
five years, and there’s some "amnesia" over the issue. "I know there’s an
exuberance to keep driving up parking meter costs, but there’s another
constituency that needs to be factored in," he told the Chronicle. Nevermind, of course, that the city’s official policy is Transit First.
The total cost of riding transit has arguably increased at a far
rate than the total cost of driving in recent years. Muni riders face a
ten percent reduction in service under current budget proposals, and
have seen the price of a monthly fast pass rise by a third or more in
the past year.
Newsom made the comments to the Chronicle following an address to a regional after-school
conference at Balboa High School today. He gave similar remarks to The Appeal at the Hall of Justice. Phone calls to Newsom’s
communications director, Tony Winnicker, were not returned.
The sudden about-face on Sunday meters makes us wonder: Is the Mayor communicating with his own staff? Just yesterday we heard through sources that Chief of Staff Steve Kawa was telling MTA directors the Mayor is still flatly opposed to extending meter hours, even on Sundays. Why didn’t you say so before, Mr. Mayor? We hope you stick to your word.