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.


I heard that Muni was shorted $100 Million for the next year and that the Board hopes to make it up with additional traffic tickets, parking meters etc.

My rather remote street was just metered. Pretty soon, there will be meters on every street and 25% of the City Budget will be from parking.

This is the outgrowth of Prop 13, and foolish thinking due to one essential fact:

Watch for Voters to address this strategy of raising parking costs will one hell of a ballot initiative making parking very cheap, and capping the number of parking meter ticket writers.

In CA what government does can be undone and easily so by initiative--when the public is pushed too far.

Government has to be careful for it may overreach on this issue. $100 million in additional parking and traffic tickets to me sounds like overreach.

Posted by Charley_sf on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

The MOU should be renegotiated with the city, SFMTA and SFSU-CSU to make sure SFSU_FOUNDATION and the U.Corp pay for their "impacts" on transit, traffic and parking in PARKMERCED!!!!

totally ignored by the SF Planning commission was the JOINT impacts of co-developments on one community.

SFSU offered a paltry 1,75mill?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

Bore us to death! The Guardian has been whining about this for 30 YEARS!

You act as though this is still 1970 and everyone commutes downtown from the neighborhoods. Most of the people who work in the "downtown" area come from out of town and don't take MUNI (since most avoid it like the plague).

Please move on.

Posted by Scott on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

of all your projects you want "downtown" to pay for.

At the end of the list you could discuss how everyone in SF will be working for the government.

Next time your kids ask for some money try this.

Say to them, "now kids, all you have to do is write a new family tax, then you kids need to get your classmates in the neighborhood to vote on it. If it passes I as your parent will have to give you that money" They then burn through that money in no time, so your kids pass another tax hike on you with the help of the other children. If it's more than you can afford just do the same to your parents. Get your aging fellow adolescents to vote that your parents give you more money, call it a "I wasn't asked to be born you owe me" tax.

It would be a learning exercise for everyone involved.

Posted by matllock on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

You want tax hikes on business. Really?

Presumably so that muni operators can continue to earn twice what a private sector bus operator gets paid. With much better health and pension benefots as well, of course.

And don't even get me started with the existing work practices.

No, Tim, not a penny more until Muni gets it's act together.

Posted by Rick on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

Public transit is a public service that should be adequately funded and overseen. The internet says that ridership is down, crowding on some lines is so bad you get passed up once or more while waiting, and the payroll rules are excessive and costing the city a lot. Cut the fat and enable the productive use of public transit and many more of us will pay.

I hate parking in SF. I would love to park my car at BART in the east bay and use all transit. BUT I CAN'T GET HOME AFTER BAR CLOSE ON BART!!!!! I've been in cities around the globe and happily shopped and paid for backpack storage for an afternoon at a bus station so I could wander unburdened by my finds. I'd love to be able to BART over, do some work, MUNI to evening destinations, maybe even stay out late at a bar IF I could take BART home. Enable quality public transit!

It isn't just limited hours on BART though. If I can't trust MUNI to pick me up in a reasonable time frame such that I have to wait 20 minutes and get cold or am late, then I am back to driving and not patronizing MUNI. I hate parking but I hate unreliability more.

How about use to tell me where and how much the parking garages are, if they have room, and as part of the parking garage ticket it is a MUNI day pass (since I still have to get home after midnight). I bet I'm not the only one that would support downtown businesses if I knew were I could plant my car and take MUNI instead. MUNI gets a boost in income from the parking garages. The parking garages get full occupancy by better publicizing their status. And local business thrive.

There is a WIN WIN here. Better transit means more money spent in SF, more money spent on MUNI, and FEWER CARS.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

Wow, Timmy boy, yet again, everyone else is wrong and you are right, how the fuck do you do it? Were you a pope in a previous life (Papal infallibility) ?

Posted by Patrick Brown on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

"...And while not everything in government gets better when you throw money at it, Muni generally does."

You lost me here. I realize SFBG is allergic to math but why don't print how much Muni funding has increased over the past 10 years with minimal population growth so everyone can get a good laugh.

Call me crazy but 70% of Muni's expenses are its rising wages and benefits (Exam today) which is driving the deficit in the middle of what people in the real world experience as a recession. Is it too much to ask Muni employees to actually show up to work or have Muni operators contribute something to their pensions before ANY taxes are raised (45% of Muni compensation is benefits well above national transportation averages)??

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

One of biggest problem in San Francisco is that we depend solely on the tourist trade
other problem is that we have biggest union city in country that leads to our problem with over paid state city employee with fat city pensions not counting a police department that clear 80kyr highest pay scale and lowest pension pay in and 10x the over time or fact that 20% are still on force 10years after there suppose retire but were still paying there pensions and $50.00 hour paycheck + paid vacation and overtime not counting exec in muni that make over 100k yr. old saying is can’t spend more them you make and tourist trade not stain-able anymore for SF with out rises taxes or cut social program or merge programs and cut cost on DPH and to cut taxes small commercial fronts and higher parking rates tickets then you give tax break to new industry One the most stupid things san Francisco every did was to stop the rent freeze. 7yr ago and mayor so-called solar jobs was biggest scam since green street cleaner’s another useless and wastefully program that city spend million on and now we just tons of money give our lazy ass police offices new sagways because there to damn lazy to walk there ass around the blocks to fight crime so we spend 16,000 each on them but we need 10 officers to stop a homeless person to give ticket for having a shopping cart or some homeless person sitting or laying on street

And san Francisco wonder why it broke like rest of Cail just file bankrupts get over with already or get off ass fix the problem

Posted by Guest racen on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

maybe we should give them golf carts next spend 20k each maybe pillow or two
how damn lazy can be we pay you 50.00 hour to catch homeless shopping carts jaywalking tickets give out $65.00 ticket that no homeless is going pay for but take's 10 officer to give 1 ticket to 1 homeless person 10x50hour for 1 ticket that never going to get paid they use the tickets to wipe there ass with and then end up costing sf courts over 8,000 per person for 65.00 ticket that homeless can't pay

we wonder why were broke ?

Posted by Guest racen on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

The easiest way to help MUNI and, even more important, get people out of cars, is to raise gasoline prices. A couple of years ago when prices reached $4-5/gallon, a lot of people made major changes in their lifestyles to either stop driving altogether or greatly reduce it. Of course public transit should be adequately funded, but that won't get enough people out of cars if there isn't a strong stick on that end. I agree with taxing downtown, but how about pushing for a greatly increased gasoline tax in Sacramento? Cities and counties in California aren't allowed to do this, unfortunately.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

want to see Muni greatly improved FIRST before they even think about giving up their cars or voting for a gas tax hike.

And thank God cities can't do that on their own. Daly and co would have done it in a heartbeat.

Posted by Tom on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 10:11 am