Proposals to enforce parking meters on Sundays and provide free Muni rides to youth passengers could be approved Tuesday as part of a transit budget that has had its passage delayed.Faced with a $53.2 million shortfall over the next two years, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors is poised to vote on a budget proposal that would eliminate that deficit.
To help make up that shortfall, the SFMTA, which operates Muni and oversees parking in The City, has recommended enforcing parking meters from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, an initiative that will bring in an extra $1.9 million annually to the agency. The board could also approve measures to install up to 1,000 new parking meters to The City and increase citations by $5. The ticket citation increase is to offset a new fee imposed by the state.
Religious organizations have strongly opposed the Sunday meter proposal, arguing that the enforcement would create a hardship for people of faith. Michael Pappas, executive director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, said he expects a large turnout from the organization’s members at the SFMTA board meeting Tuesday.
“We want our congregations to tell their stories,” said Pappas. “I hope that the SFMTA board doesn’t consider this a fait accompli, because this proposal would really place an unfair burden on our members.”
Ed Reiskin, director of the SFMTA, has said the plan would update The City’s antiquated parking policies.
Another budget proposal sure to generate discussion Tuesday is the measure to provide free Muni riders for youth passengers. Advocates of the plan want a program that will include all city residents under the age of 18, but a majority of the SFMTA board appears to support a reduced plan that will only extend to low-income youth.
The SFMTA has said that increasing the program to all of The City’s youth would cost an extra $6.4 million—money that would have to be steered away from maintenance projects and improvement plans for bus lines that service low-income areas.
However, Jaron Browne, an organizer with POWER, one of the many grassroots groups pushing the youth plan, said the agency is being disingenuous by claiming that the program can only be achieved through painful budget tradeoffs.
“This is an $800 million agency, and we’re micro-focusing on a tiny portion of that budget,” said Browne.
Browne said there would be plenty of money for the program if the SFMTA stopped paying $9 million in work order bills for the Police Department’s motorcycle fleet. Browne said it would still be a major accomplishment to secure free Muni rides for low-income youth.
The board was set to vote on the budget April 3. After disagreements over the free Muni youth plan, the vote was pushed back Tuesday.
The SFMTA budget must be approved and ready for review by the Board of Supervisors on May 1. Tuesday’s SFMTA board meeting is the last one scheduled before that date.