DMV fee could be boon to San Mateo County 

Sitting in a blue plastic chair at the DMV last week, trying to contain his active young son who was eager to be done with the errand, Jesus Mendoza at first just raised his eyebrows when asked if he’d be willing to pay $10 more to register his vehicle in San Mateo County.

But after asking what it would go to — things like maintaining roads, providing transportation for seniors and reducing water pollution — he shrugged.

“The streets do need to be fixed,” he said. “I don’t see a reason not to do it, if it’s eventually going to be for our benefit.”
It turns out many people in the county feel the way Mendoza does.

A survey of 1,000 registered voters in San Mateo County determined that even without knowing much about the measure, 64 percent said they’d vote yes on a measure raising the vehicle registration fee by $10, while just 32 percent said they’d vote no.

After hearing the results of that survey on Thursday night, the board of directors of the County/City Association of Governments voted 19-0 to move forward with a ballot measure that would add the $10 vehicle registration fee.

The concept will have to pass muster with more than 50 percent of county voters in November — and those voters will simultaneously be considering a state measure to add $18 to the vehicle license fee that would go toward California’s parks.

All county congestion management agencies — of which C/CAG is one — have the option of pursuing the $10 fee increase this year after the state Legislature passed a bill allowing it. The San Francisco County Transportation Agency is also currently in the process of deciding whether to pursue the fee.

The details of the registration fee are yet to be determined, but it would replace an already existing $4 fee imposed in the county, so the net difference would be a $6 increase. The board had the option of adding the $10 fee on top of the existing $4, but Richard Napier said the agency wasn’t interested in that.

“We’re not interested in having two fees,” Napier said. “We wouldn’t double dip the voters.”

Registration fees currently range from $32 to $2,064 depending on the age, value and category of vehicle.

The increased fees are expected to earn $6.7 million annually. Exactly what those funds would go toward is still being hammered out, but half would go toward cities and the other half would go toward countywide projects. The money would go toward vehicle-related costs, like fixing potholes, reducing congestion and reducing the impact of road runoff on water quality.

That’s appropriate, since it’s a fee that only applies to drivers, said Peninsula resident Carolina Roller, who was waiting for her number to be called in the Redwood City DMV last week.

“If 100 percent of it goes to car-related issues, I’d be in favor of it,” she said.

Vehicle license fee

- Established by the Legislature in 1935
- Formula based on value of vehicle when acquired
- Fee decreases with each renewal for the first 11 years
- Almost all VLF revenue goes to cities and counties

Source: DMV

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