Letting down their transit-riding constituents once again, the Board of Supervisors rejected a measure to increase Muni funding by ending a fee exemption for large non-profit developers, following an intense opposition campaign that sowed misconceptions about which organizations would have to pay the fee. The policy change, proposed as part of a regular update to the Transit Impact Development Fee, was opposed by all supervisors except Scott Wiener and Carmen Chu.
By ending the exemption from the TIDF currently enjoyed by large non-profit developments, including massive projects like hospitals and university campuses that generate thousands of daily trips, the proposal would raise more than $125 million in transit funding over the next 20 years. Now that funding is in doubt, and it’s not at all clear that the Board of Supervisors will have the will to enact it when the proposal comes up again next year as part of the Transportation Sustainability Project, a broader effort by the city to reform the way it funds and plans transportation improvements.
“We can no longer continue on with the status quo of exempting these large institutions that put such a strain on the system,” Joél Ramos, a member of the SF Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, told the Board of Supervisors. “Without some way to have them pay their fair share, there’s no way that we’re going to be able to accommodate the growth in our city, and accommodate more folks on transit.”
“We have $420 million in deferred vehicle maintenance,” said Wiener, who championed the measure. “Muni riders see this every day: packed trains, broken doors, buses that don’t arrive… this is Muni right now — chronically under-funded, with decades of under-investments in maintenance and infrastructure, and we’re paying the price in a very big way.”
The proposal would have applied the one-time fee to the small subset of non-profits that propose real estate developments over 25,000 feet which increase a site’s square footage. “To put that in context, the Office Max on Harrison Street is approximately 25,000 square feet,” said Wiener.