City Hall Watch: SFFD expects $626K after crash-cleanup fee OK’d 

The City will start charging a fee to cover the cost of the Fire Department’s cleanup of debris and fuel after vehicle accidents.

The fee is part of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal, which closed a $483 million budget deficit and is pending approval by the Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the fee in an 11-0 vote.

The department responds to more than 4,000 accidents annually, and the new fee is expected to generate $626,000 during the current fiscal year.

The fee amount varies depending on the extent of cleanup, such as how long it takes and how many units respond. The charge would be $249 or $498, or more for instances where cleanup takes longer than an hour.

Motorists themselves won’t be charged directly, but their insurance companies will be. However, insurance companies, which have opposed the fee, said it could raise drivers’ premiums and some policies won’t cover the charge.

The fee won’t be assessed on motorists who aren’t found at fault in the accident. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd had previously raised that issue, but he was assured by the Fire Department that only those who are at fault would be charged.

“I don’t want to see somebody who got hit, their car gets totaled, have to pay this fee,” Elsbernd has said.

Newsom’s budget proposal includes a total of $15.5 million in new fees or fee increases, including a new charge for nonresidents to visit the beloved Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park.

In other action

- After an 11-0 vote, legislation was endorsed to permit the placement of banners on the upper portion of utility poles to promote city events in the North of Market/Tenderloin Community Benefit District.

- Following tradition, a vote on Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposed $6.5 billion city and county budget was postponed for one week. The board will vote on the budget Tuesday.

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