Low meter revenue stumps S.F. officials 

City officials are baffled by the low amount of revenue coming in from San Francisco’s more than 20,000 parking meters when an empty parking spot is nearly impossible.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is collecting no more than three hours worth of parking meter revenue per meter per day, according to a budget analyst report.

MTA is taking heat for this low collection rate. Last year, it raised fares to help close a $60 million budget shortfall and now the agency may consider parking meter and citation increases this year to help close a $15.1 million projected budget shortfall.

The 2,980 parking meters downtown are seemingly the most undercollected, according to the report. These meters charge $3.00 per hour of parking and The City is collecting an average of $2.61 per meter per day. The City could potentially collect $39 per downtown parking meter since they operate on 13-hour days.

Citywide, the MTA is collecting only 22.3 percent, or $29.6 million, of the revenue it could potentially collect, according to the report. At the request of Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, a hearing was held Wednesday on the report by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee.

"The public will speculate all over the board about what’s going on here. I don’t want to speculate. I want to see if we can nail down some understandings here. It’s beyond credulity," McGoldrick said.

MTA spokesman Judson True said further study is needed to pinpoint the exact causes, but said a number of factors are involved. Broken meters, handicap placards, yellow zones, lack of enforcement and construction impact parking-meter revenue collection, according to True.

San Francisco has four parking meter zones with different hourly rates for each zone. The zones are the downtown core, the ring around the downtown core, outlying commercial areas and Fisherman’s Wharf.

MTA is doing a slightly better job collecting from meters outside of the downtown area. For the 474 meters in Fisherman’s Wharf, The City is only collecting $5.59 per meter, per day, when the meter charges $2 an hour.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said that the number is hard to swallow. "We can drive to Fisherman’s Wharf right now. There will be a car at every single meter north of Bay Street," Peskin said.

Deputy City Controller Minique Zmuda said the Controller’s Office would be willing to conduct an audit to figure out why revenue collections are low. "We do agree that the numbers are not reasonable in terms of how much revenue per meter is actually collected," she said.

"I have other fears as to why these collection levels are so incredibly low and wouldlike to see us be as thorough as possible on this," McGoldrick said.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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