Muni looks for money -- but not downtown


The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking for new ways to bring in money, which is a fine thing. I think taxes for transportation make perfect sense. And while not everything in government gets better when you throw money at it, Muni generally does. Some of the ideas are pretty sound and take a progressive approach; it's hard to argue against a vehicle impact fee, since private cars on the road increase traffic and slow down the buses. I'm all for higher parking rates, and an off-street commercial parking fee is a great idea (even though the Guardian, which owns a building that has a small parking lot, would have to pay the fee).

But the list is missing the most obvious and the most fair element: A special tax assessment for downtown commercial property. We know, because the city has done numerous reports on this, that office developers don't pay anywhere near the real cost of providing Muni service to their buildings. We know that most of the Muni lines, and certainly the ones with the heaviest traffic, exist to take commuters downtown. We know that decent transit is critical to the success of the entire central office district.

So why is there nothing on this list to address that? Why not an annual fee per square foot of commercial office space in the area zoned C-3-0 (highrise offices)? That ought to be part of any Muni funding plan.

I tried to get the folks at Muni to respond to my question, but I haven't heard back. I'll update as soon as I do.

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