Mayor Lee Doesn’t Care For Parking Tickets, Un-“Civil” Muni Riders

Ask Mayor Ed Lee what he has to say about Muni, and he’ll talk about how its riders need to be “a lot more civil.” But if you tell him how much you hate worrying about parking tickets — wow, he really feels your pain.

That was the gist of the transportation discussion last week when Mayor Lee joined a live on-air edition of KQED Forum (liveblogged by SFist). The contrast in the mayor’s priorities was clear in his responses to questions about the need for safer streets, better transit, and parking tickets.

Photo: ## Swift/Bay Citizen##

Lee mostly stuck to his usual talking points, with a few exceptions. The excitement in the mayor’s voice reached a peak when he attacked the supposed evil that is Sunday parking metering, which he just had the SFMTA board strike down.

The estimated $11 million to be lost from Sunday meters is “hurtful revenue, not helpful revenue,” the mayor said as he expounded upon an issue he clearly cares about:

Why not just have a day where it’s less about the business of the city and more about everybody kind of relating with their families, going out there and enjoying the great things that we have built in the city, and being able to do that without the necessity of looking behind your back and seeing if somebody’s going to stab you with a $75 citation?

Never mind that Sunday meters actually made it easier to find a parking spot while enjoying the city, or that SFpark has substantially reduced the “stabbing” (or at least the cost) incurred by parking citations. In response to Lee, KQED host Michael Krasny quipped, “If you can find a parking spot.”

Lee continues to show that he’s ignoring (or is unaware of) key facts about Sunday meters that undermine his position. For one, he stated that “other jurisdictions haven’t done this,” ignoring the SFMTA’s 2009 study listing Sunday meters in Los Angeles, PasadenaMiami Beach, Portland, Chicago, Tampa, and even the Port of San Francisco.

Not that he reads SFMTA studies carefully: He still has yet to acknowledge the November report showing that Sunday meters cut in half the time drivers took to find a parking spot during business hours, and improved parking turnover for businesses by 20 percent.

The mayor continues to say removing Sunday metering is “for the larger good” as the city asks voters for transportation revenue on the ballot this November, because it will show “compassion” for drivers constantly assaulted by meter maids:

When I walk through all these different neighborhoods, and I’ve heard people complaining over and over again: You’re asking us, mayor, for $500 million of investment to Muni, and we don’t think that Muni’s doing everything it can. In fact, when we go out, we get dinged! We get dinged, not just at the parking meter, but have you had a citation, mayor? That is $75 just to have a citation for parking a minute or two over the parking meter.

Oddly, the mayor only mentioned what’s arguably the least controversial of the three proposed transportation ballot measures: two $500 million general obligation bonds. He never mentioned the half-cent sales tax or restoring the local vehicle license fee to its 2004 level of 2 percent. That last measure is the only one that specifically asks drivers to pay more.

When it comes to transit riders, Mayor Lee shows none of the same “compassion” for dealing with slow, unreliable service, or even “getting dinged” with Muni fare while enjoying the city on Sundays, for that matter. In fact, he never really acknowledged the dire need to improve Muni, instead talking up the GO bond.

The mayor did, however, have a lot to say when it came to the behavior of people who walk and take Muni.

One caller on the forum complained to Lee that “Muni service has been cut,” though she lumped it in with vague gripes about fellow bus riders. This was a chance for the mayor to reject this snobbish view of transit, and thoughtfully comment about improving the system after decades of neglect. This is where Mayor Lee could show solidarity with Muni riders, just like he feels with people who hate parking tickets. That sentiment would go over well with voters: A recent survey for Bloomberg/Boston Consulting Group [PDF] found that residents ranked transit as the city’s third most important issue, far above 12th-ranked parking or 13th-ranked ease of driving.

His perfunctory response? “I will take that comment very seriously. And if you wouldn’t mind letting me know the routes that you ride, I will see to it that I talk with Ed Reiskin at SFMTA to pay attention to that.”

In other words, Lee cannot relate to your Muni-riding experience in any concrete way.

When Krasny suggested that the mayor ride Muni, Lee said he’d “make a promise that I’ll ride [the caller’s routes] myself, so that I can get the experience you have.” The mayor then turned his comments to the city’s scourge of ill-behaved pedestrians and transit riders:

I do agree with you that this city has got to be a lot more civil in every aspect, whether it’s on the street when you’re walking, or trying to cross the street, or on a major Muni line. Civility has to be — I can’t agree with you more that if we’re going to invite more people to use the public transportation system, we’ve got to get to an acceptable standard, kind of like when you’re riding on BART. I think there’s an instant respect. There are incidences that occur, but I think that people do have to respect each other, and I’m going to make sure that happens.

So there it is: Muni riders need to get their “civility” together and act more like BART’s suburban riders. No mention of such civility from drivers, who have killed eight people this year.

When Madeleine Savit of Folks For Polk called in to rip on the mayor’s “Be Nice, Look Twice” campaign and the lack of action on street safety, Lee did speak to the need to pursue Vision Zero. He touted the city’s WalkFirst plans, although he sounded more uncertain than heartfelt about the necessity of stopping pedestrian injuries (quite unlike NYC’s mayor, Bill de Blasio).

“I think we’re increasing funding” for safety improvements, Lee said, citing the ballot measures and the pedestrian safety improvements that Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit will bring to the deadly corridor.

“I am shocked, I am so saddened by the numbers of pedestrian fatalities that we’ve seen. We’ve got to do better,” Lee said, listing street redesigns, increased enforcement, and education as the necessary measures. “Our streets haven’t been designed properly for the kind of traffic that we’re seeing right now — walkers, bikers, and heavy duty trucks.”

  • deuce_sluice

    So, how do we get rid of this guy?

  • Michael Smith

    Well, at least you can’t say he is only against improving transit. See for a rather humorous/sad comment on clean public power.

  • street_equity

    Well it didn’t take too long for the pro-bike, pro-pedestrian, pro-transit mayoral candidate to throw in the towel on those issues.

    Resign, Ed, resign.

  • Mayor Lee is a twentieth century administrator clearly unsuited in almost every respect for 21st century urban leadership. This is not necessarily his fault; he is just in the wrong time and place. He might have done very well as mayor of 1962 Mayberry RFD. (I can imagine “Be Nice, Look Twice” might have been very effective there.)

  • Gezellig

    “Be Nice, Look Twice” is hilarious–almost Onion-esque in its own wait-they-can’t-be-serious-omg-they-are special way. Its jarringly offkey, laughably self-unaware tone reminds me of the risibly earnest, naïve sincerity underlying the “Just Say No” or “Hugs Not Drugs” approach to drug policy.

    Why, we don’t need to address any of our structural/policy problems; Just Remember This One Weird Tip and problem gone!

  • murphstahoe

    Parking Meter Evasion – $75
    MUNI Fare Evasion – $300

  • coolbabybookworm

    stabbed in the back!

  • Mario Tanev

    Exactly, I don’t want to justify fare evasion, but the double-standard regarding parking meters vs fare evasion is disturbing. A lot of the same people that spout against parking meters are very gung-ho about fare enforcement.

    I think it comes from a belief that parking meters are for the common good that they somehow already paid for, and buses are for private use that somehow everyone else subsidizes. Perhaps it stems from the primitive notion that a parking space is just an empty space so it’s naturally free, whereas a bus and its driver incur an actual cost.

  • Gezellig

    While we’re at it:

    3,000 lb. auto rolling thru stop sign -> 22450(a) CVC ~ $200 +
    30 lb. bike rolling thru stop sign -> 22450(a) CVC ~ $200 +

    Cuz THAT makes sense.

  • Justin

    Your chance will be in 2015 next year, if he chooses to run for re-election

  • njudah

    What a shock- the Mayor doesn’t give a shit about transit in SF. No surprise – his elitist buddies don’t care about it either. Sadly this jackass is going to get re-elected because SF voters are mindless sheep who always re-elect incumbents no matter how much they screw things up. Until people lose their jobs for ruining transit, the idiocy of this jerk mayor and the idiots at Muni will continue.

  • murphstahoe

    He will. Defeating Mayor Lee would require a confluence of events requiring coordination from way too many warring factions for it to ever happen.

    1) Fewer than 5 candidates.
    2) No more Google Bus protests. I get the point, I disagree with a lot of the theories on how to solve the core problem, but the most damaging piece of the protests is that it will deliver 5% or more of the vote to Ed Lee from a melting pot of techies/whatever, and energize a lot of money to re-elect him.
    3) Coordinated campaign to beat up on Lee and publicize his failings.
    4) At least one very compelling candidate that the “moderates” might vote split with Lee and be “tolerable” for the left side enough that they vote for him. Coupled with 4 total candidates and getting the most prog of the progs to fill out all three lines…

    Oh who am I kidding. @njudah is right.

  • Sandi

    Well it kind of was lampooned by Bob Gunderson

  • M.

    The ads now on buses are really cryptic til you get that no one’s expected to actually read them, let alone make sense of or heed them. They consist of various versions of, ‘It’s never too late to…look both ways/slow down/put your phone away…’ or whatevs. Hello? Sometimes it really is too late.

  • M.

    Unfortunately, some of my comments didn’t make it into the KQED Q&A with Lee. Among other things, I pointed out that modern cities’ can only thrive with excellent transit and that projected growth won’t allow for one car per person and guaranteed parking. Also noted that the absence of adequate funding for Vision Zero has been obscured because existing, already-funded programs have been pulled under the Vision Zero nomenclature umbrella.

  • Kevin J

    If Mayor Ed Lee wants to experience what life is like for Muni riders he need to be late to work every other day and be forced to pay missed appointment fees.

    But we know this Muni hating sack of shit doesn’t give a fuck about anyone who doesn’t drive a car.

  • Kevin J

    I’ll justify fare evasion: when legislators and the mayor are so hateful and spiteful they purposefully fuck Muni and bike riders to subsidize driving the laws are illegitimate.

    We live in a city where police let drivers get away with killing people when the murder weapon is a car. We need to start fighting back and yesterday I defended one of our few bike lanes by holding my key out while I maneuvered around a car parked in a bike lane. Since there was so little room the key hit the car and made a couple scratches.

  • Does anyone know how car ownership and voter turnout do (or don’t) align? I could see the Ed Lee crew thinking that an off year (non-presidential) election won’t have as much progressive turnout, so they have to throw a bunch of bones to the more conservative SF crowd, if the Muni bond measure is going to pass. I may be giving them too much credit, though.

  • Michael Morris

    People can look at Muni’s budget and see that the agency spends more than it collects. We can’t see the various costs of providing street parking so easily

  • murphstahoe

    If Lee thinks that turning off the Sunday meters will have a measurable impact on the bond measures, he’s been hanging out with the Mayor of Toronto.

    “Drivers need a break one day” and if I give it to them, they’ll gladly raise their own VLF by far more than they will ever pay for Sunday meters. Makes no sense to me.

  • Greg

    FYI – outside of this echo chamber, most San Franciscans believe that Mayor Ed Lee is insanely too pro-bike at the expense Muni users and drivers, most folks believe that Lee is in the pocket of the SFBC and allowed the takeover of the SFMTA by the SFBC. The one item he advances which is “pro-car” is the Sunday meter item. He is using that to pander to the drivers to keep their support.

  • murphstahoe

    My experience being outside the various echo chambers is that 50% of San Franciscans don’t know the name of the Mayor, and 90% cannot name more than one member of the Board of Supervisors.

    This is probably why anyone got a ticket for parking on Sunday. Nobody got the memo that it changed, because the vast majority are very disconnected.

  • aslevin

    Maybe Ed Lee actually has some polling and other data suggesting that car-centric voter turnout is especially high in an off-year. Or the campaign team is going on gut feel and who bends their ear. Anyway, it’s clear that the campaign staff does *not* have a sense that the combined biking/walking/transit constituency can play a powerful role to get out the vote. Is this true already, but Lee’s campaign team don’t know it? Or are the bike/walk/transit groups underperforming in terms of showing the ability to turn out voters?

  • Perhaps we’re on the wrong track here. Perhaps Ed Lee–or the handful of very wealthy people who bought him the last election via donations to independent expenditure committees that have no contribution limits–don’t actually want the transportation measures to pass. What better way to ensure the measures fail than to embrace them weakly and then alienate every group one by one that might be inclined to support them?

    The more useful question might be why do Ron Conway, Sean Parker, Marc Benioff, Mark Pinkus and Rose Pak (not a billionaire, but extremely powerful in SF and instrumental in Lee’s election)–why does this handful of people want to keep the transportation status quo in San Francisco?

    In politics, always follow the money. In 2011, Ed Lee’s campaign spent $3.280 million dollars. Next highest spender was Leland Yee at $1.874 million. Third was Dennis Herrera at $1.865. Ed Lee spent nearly as much as numbers 2 and 3 put together. If he (or his handlers) pull off that kind of fundraising again he will be very difficult to defeat.

  • the_greasybear

    Yeah, no. You speak only for yourself, and everyone here knows it.

  • M.

    Here’s a funny/sad incident. I made a point of catching up to a parking meter enforcer and to thank him for the work he does. He looked gobsmacked and was silent for a few seconds. ‘Wow, that’s a first.’ We exchanged well-wishes and when I turned around, I saw him being verbally accosted by an irate parker.

  • andrelot

    Hope you get identified by police and served with a misdemeanor vandalism indictment, though that is unlikely to happen.

    You need anger management classes, though.

  • Chris J.

    Instead of damaging the car, you can call SF’s parking-enforcement hotline at 415-553-1200 (from ).


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