The potentially difficult task of convincing voters to increase the vehicle license fee has thrust Sunday parking meters and other transit-related debates into the forefront this year.
Mayor Ed Lee is calling for an end to Sunday enforcement while drumming up support for a transportation revenue bond and a vehicle license fee increase for the November ballot. The mayor also wants free Muni for low-income youths to be a permanent fixture. The 18-month pilot, which launched last year, cost $1.6 million.
During his State of the City address Friday, Lee said that with November revenue measures it was time to do away with Sunday meter enforcement, which began in January 2013.
"Let's tear off the Band-Aid we applied in more dire financial times that made our residents live a little more frustratingly and expensively," Lee said. "Let's stop nickel and diming people at the meter and lets work together to pass the transportation bond and vehicle license increase in 2014 instead."
But Sunday meters have been a revenue booster for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and some believe it to be smart transportation policy.
In fiscal year 2012-13, Sunday meters brought in $2.4 million and 37,000 parking citations were issued, resulting in a net of $2.92 million in fines, according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose. For the current fiscal year, which began July 1, revenue is at $1.24 million and 17,000 citations have been issued for a net of $1.07 million in revenue from fines.
Streetsblog San Francisco, which promotes alternatives to driving, is critical of the mayor's plan, writing that it "would come at incredible cost in the form of extra car traffic, while undermining the SFMTA's ability to implement rational transportation policy."
The SFMTA's Dec. 10 evaluation of Sunday meters found a number of benefits, including that "it is now easier to find parking spaces in commercial and mixed use areas on Sundays" and "people have to spend less time circling to find a parking space."
However, Lee said Friday that "Nobody likes it. Not parents, not our neighborhood businesses. Not me."
It would take a vote by the SFMTA board of directors to eliminate Sunday meters.
Lee's support for a $500 million bond for the November ballot and an increase in the vehicle license fee, from 0.65 percent to 2 percent to generate $73 million annually, was recommended by a transportation task force he assembled.
The mayor acknowledged that asking voters to approve the fee increase was an "uphill battle," especially with the existing high cost of living in The City.