Private lots feel SFO’s parking success 

Booming business at an on-site, long-term parking lot at San Francisco International Airport has one private lot looking for a break from the city.

Officials at SkyPark, the city’s only private lot, have asked the city for a reprieve in the taxes they pay to the city. The tax relief recommended by Mayor Larry Franzella and Councilman Jim Ruane, members of the city’s Revenue Ad Hoc Committee, would leave the city some $160,000 short this fiscal year, Finance Director Jim O’Leary said.

In October, SkyPark officials reported that they were unable to pay the full amount due to the city between July and September of 2006. Though their voter-approved tax rate is 8 percent of their sales, they were only able to pay slightly less than $55,000, representing 4 percent.

The City Council, which has the power to adjust the ordinance as it sees fit, will discuss the issue at its meeting tonight. The rate adjustment to 4 percent would only be for this calendar year.

The airport’s lot, which charges $12 daily for long-term spots, opened in June. Several other private lots in South San Francisco, Burlingame and Millbrae have found it tough to compete with SFO. SkyPark owner Joe Galligan has said that the airport, which does not have to pay hefty taxes to its home city, has complete control over the best spots for shuttle drop-off and pick-up.

With some exceptions for special discounts, SkyPark offers online daily rates of $13 for outdoor parking and $16 for indoor.

SkyPark, located at 1000 San Mateo Ave., normally pays between $100,000 and $120,000 annually in airport parking taxes and another $500,000 annually to the city of San Bruno, according to Galligan. O’Leary said that the expected parking tax was $460,000 this fiscal year.

Franzella said the council granted a SkyPark a similar reprieve in 2003 and 2004, when the travel industry saw a decline in business. The tax was 5.5 percent, Franzella said.

"They have a whole new business model at the airport," Franzella said. "It means less for us, but if it turned out that [SkyPark] went out of business, we’d be collecting zero."

E-mail Tara Ramroop at

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