Cars-First “Restore Balance” Measure Funded by Ed Lee Backer Sean Parker

Mayor Ed Lee with Facebook-founding billionaire Sean Parker (right) and Ron Conway (center), both major campaign donors. Photo via The Bay Citizen/Center for Investigative Reporting

Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook and a major contributor to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, has spent $49,000 of his personal fortune to propel a ballot initiative that seeks to enshrine free parking as city policy, according to the SF Chronicle. Parker gave $100,000 to Lee’s mayoral campaign in 2011.

The ballot initiative, which proponents frame as an attempt to “restore balance” to city transportation policy, first surfaced in April. While the measure would be non-binding, if it passes it could further slow much-needed policies to prioritize transit and street safety in San Francisco. One stated goal of the campaign is to kill Sunday parking meters for good. The SFMTA Board of Directors, which is appointed entirely by Mayor Lee, repealed Sunday metering in April, after Lee made unfounded claims about a popular revolt against the policy.

Parker on the cover of Forbes.

Several veteran opponents of transportation reform in San Francisco are aligned with the ballot initiative. And, in addition to the backing from Parker, another $10,000 for the measure reportedly came from the San Francisco Republican Party.

Parker’s funding for the ballot initiative apparently helped pay petitioners to get out and collect the 17,500 signatures submitted last week to place the measure on the ballot. Two Streetsblog readers reported being approached in Safeway parking lots by petitioners who falsely claimed that the SFMTA had not repealed Sunday parking meters. A flyer distributed for the campaign [PDF] claims the measure calls for “restoring free parking at meters on Sundays, holidays and evenings.” Campaign proponent and previous Republican Assembly hopeful Jason Clark told SFist that the allegations were “hearsay,” but that the non-binding resolution would “ensure [SFMTA] can’t” bring back Sunday meters.

Parker has a reputation for selfish extravagance at the expense of the public realm. In February, he denied accusations that he had workers bulldoze snow from in front of his $20 million home in New York City’s Greenwich Village onto the street. The snow was reportedly cleared so a high-speed internet cable could be hooked up to the home. Last year, he was fined $2.5 million for damaging a Big Sur redwood grove that served as his wedding backdrop.

  • Yaro

    Wow. What an asshat.
    I guess he thinks this is his way of “giving back to the community”. It’s for the people, right?

  • coolbabybookworm

    I saw signature gatherers at Safeway in the Richmond, which is hilarious because it was asking people to “restore balance” in a sea of free Safeway parking, surrounded by streets that aren’t even RPP for several blocks. I guess they still need more parking by building a parking garage in the avenues? The one under the museums isn’t enough I guess…

  • murphstahoe

    “people no longer trust science, evidence, and statistics. It’s a weird phenomenon, but it is reality”

    This is an easily explained phenomenon. Science in 1900 gives you a device that will cheaply and quickly get you from point A to point B without much physical effort or the pain of caring for a horse. Science is good! Science in 2000 tells you that this device you rely on has some devastating side-effects and you probably should not use it. Science is bad!

  • murphstahoe

    It’s just as wrong to stereotype “the rich” as if they all think and act as one as it would be to stereotype “the cyclists”

  • murphstahoe

    I read some article about Tom Steyer and discovered he was the founder of Farallon. The first thing that came to mind was “Farallon? Isn’t that basically a place that writes investment bonds for Coal plants?”

    So I checked out Steyer’s wikipedia. Yep.

  • C Monroe

    I like that guy though, not Parker.

  • C Monroe

    He is the Napster scumbag that helped Mark and his four co-founders find financing. He was played by Justin Timberlake in the movie.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    1999 Proposition H “Ordinance Providing for the Extension of Caltrain to a Downtown Station”

    A world-class tragedy that the implementation of the policy by America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals is to piss away $4 billion public dollars for a worse than useless edifice that can never function as a remotely efficient train station. But the policy was sound, and had a part in effecting a turn around in city policy.

    I’m not totally naïve. The real reason policy changes is that somebody delivers a larger bag of unmarked hundreds to Willie Brown than the people who’d been who’d been doing so earlier. But it didn’t hurt.

  • voltairesmistress

    Thank you for the thoughtful reply, Jdx. The linked articles are very interesting too.

  • Lee Ross

    I hate to be so acerbic. But reading about this ballot measure propounded by these folks and their cars who think they have some unalienable right to push everyone else aside is…I won’t say what I really believe and leave it to a comment I AM BEYOND FRUSTRATION WITH THESE PEOPLE.

  • p_chazz

    Or to stereotype “the motorists”.

  • tj

    In this case Parker is completely out of touch with most of the tech community, who have vey clearly demonstrated their preference for living in a bike and pedestrian friendlier San Francisco.

  • UrbanUndead

    “terrorists” – the new “meddling kids”

  • regsf

    The only thing worse than people is people in cars.

  • quibble

    So finally we get to #CampaignFinanceReform. None of these stupid proposals would get traction were it not for some of our ‘leaders’ being well into the very deep pockets of self-serving power mongers.

  • StormMiguel

    I think “the rich” can handle it.

  • EastBayer

    Fun update about Sean Parker…apparently he’s making enormous contributions to out-of-state anti-gay Republicans. Hope the wider SF community makes the connection:

  • donsf2003

    No one here seemed to care when the Stewart billionaires shelled out half a million to protect their view with the sham prop against 8 Washington

  • donsf2003

    And why do bikers think they can push everyone aside?

  • @donsf2003 – I guess it’s because people here are interested in substantive issues rather than vapid ad hominem pattern-matching.

  • NoeValleyJim

    Uh no. Farallon capital at one point had about 10% of its investments in Oil and Gas stocks, which is less than that sector’s weight in the overall stock market and has been divesting since then. Farallon was never primarily about building Coal plants, though it has done that long with hundreds of other things. From the source listed in that Wikipedia article:

    “According to a CBC Canada report, Steyer has “instructed that his carbon-emitting investments be sold off.” If Steyer is truly divesting from fossil fuels, critics may largely suspend claims that Steyer continues to be hypocritical in his environmental activism.”

    He has also spent millions of his own money defeating an initiative that would have rolled back California’s climate change legislation. Why are you so intent on beating up on one of our allies?

  • coolbabybookworm

    not to mention the war chest of the pro-8 washington.

  • The Colonel

    What’s next for Sean Parker? Provide funding to the Islamic State? What a buffoon. This fool proves that no amount of money can buy you credibility.


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