Transit or traffic - Page 6

There's a real chance to fix Muni -- but a simplistic downtown campaign for more parking and less government is trying to derail it
Illustration by Danny Hellman

"If folks can hold out and beat down this initiative, I do think we're headed in the right direction."

Yet the Yes on A–No on H campaign is worried. Early polling showed a close race on Prop. A and a solid lead for Prop. H.

Fisher and the groups that are pushing Prop. H — the Council of District Merchants, the SF Chamber of Commerce, and the San Francisco Republican Party — chose what they knew would be a low-turnout election and are hoping that drivers' desires for more parking will beat out more complicated arguments.

"The vast majority of San Franciscans call themselves environmentalists, and they want a better transit system," Shahum said, noting that such positions should cause them to support Prop. A and reject Prop. H. "But they're at risk of being tricked by a Republican billionaire's initiative with an attractive name.... Even folks that are well educated and paying attention could be tricked by this."

For Metcalf and the folks at SPUR, who helped write Prop. A, this election wasn't supposed to be an epic battle between smart growth and car culture.

"For us, in a way, Prop. A is the more important measure," Metcalf said. "We want to focus on making Muni better instead of fighting about parking. We didn't plan it this way, but the way it worked out, San Francisco is at a fork in the road. We can reinforce our transit-oriented urbanity or we can create a mainly car-dependent city that will look more like the rest of America."