SFMTA repeals paid Sunday parking meters, loses $9.8 million

Over around 100 people line up outside room 400 at City Hall to speak to the SFMTA board of directors.
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

San Francisco transit riders won some and lost some today [Tue/15] at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors meeting. The board voted to repeal Sunday parking meters, effective July 1. It also asked SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin to add 18-year-olds into the Free Muni for Youth program, which will take effect Nov. 1. 

But a proposal for free Muni for seniors and the disabled hit a snag, and the board decided it would evaluate their budget in January 2015 to identify available funding for the program. Until then, the program is in limbo.

"I think free Muni for seniors and people with disabilities is a great need, it’s a moral imperative," said Tom Nolan, chairman of the SFMTA board. "It’s not a question if these things will happen, it’s when." 

Nearly 100 of advocates for the Free Muni For Youth and Free Muni for Seniors and the Disabled programs packed into the small board chamber at City Hall Tuesday. Some came in wheelchairs, others walked in carefully with canes, and small children bounded into the chamber playfully. At least 100 more people waited outside the doors of the chamber in line to speak. All came with a purpose: to tell the SFMTA that free Muni would help them live in a city increasingly inhospitable to poor and middle class San Franciscans. 

"To some people $23 may not be much, but to (seniors), every penny counts," Pei Juan Zheng, vice president of the Community Tenants Association told the board at public comment. She spoke in Cantonese, and was later translated by a woman at her side. "I know some senior couples who can only afford one Muni pass and share it, taking turns to go on doctor’s visits."

Many public commenters reminded the board that free Muni for the disabled and seniors could be paid for by paid Sunday parking meters, which the SFMTA ultimately decided to repeal. The SFMTA's budget proposal estimates free Muni for seniors and the disabled to cost about $4 million annually. Conversely, repealing paid parking meters is estimated to cost Muni $9.8 million annually. SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the loss could actually be as high as $11 million.

The reason for repealing the paid parking meters was made clear as day: Mayor Ed Lee and the SFMTA board are tip-toeing around car-driving voters, afraid several ballot measures to fund Muni this November will tank. To that end, they're willing to appease drivers however they can.

"It’s clear we don’t have support for (paid Sunday meters)," board member Joel Ramos said after the vote. "We have failed, frankly, to convince the great majority of people. Read [San Francisco Chronicle columnists] Matier & Ross and see the sentiment out there, it's a negative one."

For his part, Mayor Lee was pleased the board enacted his repeal proposal. His statement to the press released shortly after the vote laid clear his need to appease car-driving voters.

"Repealing Sunday parking meters is about making San Francisco a little more affordable for our families and residents on Sunday, plain and simple," he wrote in his statement. "Instead of nickel and diming our residents at the meter on Sunday, let’s work together to support comprehensive transportation funding measures this year and in the future that will invest in our City’s transportation system for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and drivers alike.”

Just two weeks ago, Reiskin suggested reducing enforcement of Sunday meters, perhaps in efforts to find a compromise. He has repeatedly publicly stated his support for paid Sunday meters. Apparently he was outnumbered.

There are silver linings. In January the SFMTA board will mull a 7 percent transit service increase for 2016, additional funding for cleaning Muni's fleet, and providing free Muni for low and moderate income seniors and disabled. The wait is due to the uncertainty of June contract negotiations with Muni workers, as well as the impending Muni funding ballot measures in November. If all goes well, the board said, funding may be identified for all of those projects. Until then, the loss of paid Sunday meters means Muni is out $9.8 million a year out of its $677 million budget.

The repeal of the paid markers doesn't just hit transit riders though. Local businesses may also lose out. 

Back in our story "Muni Fare Shakedown [2/25]," Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy at the business-friendly San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, told us he is a supporter of the paid Sunday meters. "You can drive into merchant areas now where you couldn't before," he told us.

Near the end of public comment, Cynthia Crews of the League of Pissed Off Voters put the board's vote into context.

"The MTA’s purpose is to manage the effing streets, not do the mayor’s bidding," she told the board. "This is a $9 million giveaway no one is asking for but Ed Lee."

"This," she said, "sucks."

Tweets from the SFMTA board of directors meeting


of agreement with progressive policies.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 6:32 am

I've been saying that for a long time. But do you really think an elected MTA would support Sunday meters? Not in a million years. This is one of those cases where the activists have completely failed to win over the "civilians" who they claim to speak for. Even most progressives oppose it, myself included. Can you honestly say that you know of one single person supporting Sunday meters who is not already an active member of the Green Party, SFBC, or WalkSF?

If progressives want to take power in this city, we need to stick to bread-and-butter issues that resonate with the great majority of people. Strengthening tenant protections and $15 minimum wage (right now, not after some committee muddies the water for a few years), would be a great start. And yes, funding MUNI. But not on the backs of other working class people.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

political ideologs rather than people who actually understand transportation.

We need subject matter experts in roles like that, and not people who are consumed with politics.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 5:55 am

...schools, the DA office, hell the whole city for that matter. Why do we even need a mayor and BOS? Why not just have them appointed by someone who knows better than the people of SF?

No, I trust the people of SF to make the right decisions. The day-to-day operations can be run by unionized professionals. But the orders need to come from people who are in tune with the people's priorities.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:37 am

political and ideological. SFUSD is a screaming example of that and serving there is essentially seen as a way to launch a political career. The DA takes on lots of cases politically.

Many of these jobs require expert knowledge and the voters cannot reasonably be expected to assess skills they do not understand. We elect the mayor and he is the CEO of the city. He can hire experts.

Some cities elect their fire chief. WTF?

"Unionized professionals" WTF? Why would it matter if they were in a union or not? total red herring.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:54 am

@marcos - Completely insane to take Matier & Ross (or their peanut gallery) as a measure of public opinion.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 12:11 am

in my neighborhood, who are angry about paid meters on Sunday.

Why are you so blind to those who disagree with your knee-jerk anti-car rhetoric?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 5:57 am

@Guest - Oh looky, the cowardly anonymous troll is doing the first name in the header thing again. How original.

Yes, M&R printed an opinion and some unknown number of people agree with it. Gosh! So let's just assume that number is "many" and throw in the towel. Same strategy when a wingnut screams "Agenda 21" at meetings or (my personal favorite) protesting "Order #5176" and being taken seriously.

Great way to craft policy, make total sense. No need to survey the public or anything, just listen to who shrieks the loudest and call it a day.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 6:23 am

describing the people who comment at every BOS meeting?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 6:40 am

the people who show up for city meetings which are typically WAY to the left of the silent majority which M&R try hard to solicit.

I suspect Jym moves in like-minded circles and so has no nuanced appreciation of what SF residents really think.

Jym doesn't ask what we think. He tells us what we should think

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:05 am

M&R is a one-sided corporate mouthpiece. That said, from my understanding there was public comment on all sides.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:46 am

kinds of activists and agigtators who show up for city meetings when most of us have jobs to do or families to look after, because that would leads to results that you prefer, as an activist and agitator yourself.

Decisions by the silent majority scare you because they do not go the way you like. If the mayor was chosen by public meetings, Ed Lee would not be mayor. but you cannot rig a meeting the way you can rig a public meeting by flooding it with the usual suspects.

That's the problem with democracy, Greg. It doesn't give the result that the extremist minority wants.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:58 am

@Guest - I'm aware that people scream babbling nonsense at all sorts of meetings. The issue is when departments back down in the face of babbling nonsense.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:42 am

because only those with strong opinions show up. It gives you little sense of what the majority think, especially since many of those attend such meetings are from SEIU, non-profits and the various advocacy groups. That is, they are highly biased.

That is why I trust opinion polls and elections far more than I would trust any public commentary at meetings. And if SFMTA genuinely believed that ending Sunday meters was approved by the majority, then they did the right thing.

Activism, agitating and extremism is in fact highly undemocratic, because they lead to rule by a small unruly mob.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 11:10 am

That you are ashamed of being called Jym?


You'd have to be blind to not see that many, many people are angry about paying for Sunday parking.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:03 am

Many people are angry that they don't get something for nothing? They can fuck off then, because no one deserves something for nothing.

I will do my best to make sure they fuck off. And you too.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Apr. 19, 2014 @ 1:06 am

She didn't ask us what we thought

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 6:49 am

for the people.

That's why across the board all of are elected types are progressive.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 8:01 am

And i am "pissed off". I am "pissed off" at people like her who pretend to speak for us but in reality she never listens and never asks questions.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 11:53 am

It seems that a good number of people seem to view the government as a type of "business" - whose source of revenue is taxes or fees and anything the lowers tjsoe revenue is seen as a detrimental event - like bad a product launch, pricing strategy or disappointing quarter of earnings. Otherwise why would one bemoan the lowering of government fees like parking by crying out that "SF LOST 9.8 million in revenues."

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 10:45 am

interests want and need an ever-increasing flow of funds from the productive wealth-creating sector to their own pockets to fund their avarice.

It will never end until they have everything and we as a nation is bankrupt.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 11:33 am

Mayor Lee and the supervisors have been getting an earful for some time and they have obviously passed the public opinions on to the SFMTA Board that just realized they need the public trust and support for their actions, regardless of what they think they have the "legal authority" to do. Join the folks what want to Fix the MTA as we continue to push for reforms: http://fixthemta.org/

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 11:23 am
Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 11:28 am

Why is it even a comparison: Sunday Meters or transit ballot initiatives. I don't think anyone was even connecting the two issues until Lee started mentioning it. So now, I am sure we all know what will happen: the ballot measure won't pass, Muni will still be in the hole, and everyone will still think Muni wastes money.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 11:39 am

money at it. They have consumed billions and they have one of the worst farebox recovery rates in the nation.

Muni operators earn twice the going rate for private sector drivers and of course their pension and healthcare benefits are unsustainably expensive.

Fix the pay, benefits and rigid work rules before we give Muni another penny. JAnd if we cannot, privatize it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 11:52 am

Privatize it and it collapses. Good luck finding a parking spot without MUNI running....

Posted by murphtsahoe on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

run at a profit. The buses are packed, and an upmarket service could be provided, as with the google buses - maybe $5 a trip with papers, wi-fi, coffee etc.

Where muni really loses money on something like the 37 route that routinely has nobody on it. Wouldn't jitneys be better for that?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

least the last 25 years, it was suggested that these lower ridership routs be run by smaller buses. MUNI has never even bothered.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

Without a public bus system numerous companies that would step in to meet the demand. High-density makes it much easier to provide private transportation services. The routes may not be as extensive and the hours may be shorter, but since lots of people would want to take transit to their job, companies would be started to meet the demand. Uber and Lyft would likely be two of the first companies to ramp up service to make some serious money providing upscale transit services to the well-paid corporate drones who work downtown and a few of the other high-density employment centers in the Bay Area.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 6:42 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 5:54 am

Now there's a country the whole world should emulate when it comes to transit policy!

Wow. Talk about extreme.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:49 am

and thought it was a shining beacon of democracy!

They have jitneys in NYC, just so you know.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:55 am

The SFMTA is making a temporary concession on Sunday parking meter enforcement (9 million in Sunday parking revenue) so that in November they can pass 3 BILLION DOLLARS in new taxes, bonds , and increases in vehicle license fees. If the bonds don't pass you can bet that Sunday parking meter enforcement will return.

********If the MTA can giveth, the MTA can taketh away just as easily.

The SFMTA never, ever, tries to cut spending, it is always about more taxes and revenues. Does anyone wonder why SF is so expensive? It is our government that s causing it. Now they want another bond measure to fix muni, like they were supposed to do with potholes, look how well that one turned out, the streets are worse than ever...

We are encouraging city motorists to stop contributing to an anti-car Transit Agency that uses city motorists like an ATM machine.

Remember this the next time the city of San Francisco requests more bonds to improve your driving experience. VOTE NO! If you drive a car, VOTE NO on any more funds for Muni or the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA). Regardless of what they promise, the funds will be used against you to inflate parking prices, remove traffic lanes, slow traffic, and force you on to public transit vehicles that arE chronically late, overcrowded, filthy, and dangerous.

The next time you elect a Mayor, or a City Supervisor VOTE NO if they start parroting 'transit first" as an excuse to bleed your wallet. If your city Supervisor wants you to give up the safety of your family car to ride a bicycle on busy city streets then VOTE THEM OUT!

Posted by Sfparkripoff on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 6:05 pm

Unless it is for public safety.

Not a penny more in taxes until city workers are all on DC pensions plans and paying 100% of the cost of their healthcare

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

...For the greediest, laziest municipal employees in the country.

Cut the waste, THEN ask for a tax increase.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

Finally we meet (at least online). All I can say is that one has to be pretty clueless to mistake me for you or vice versa!

Posted by Greg on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 7:53 am

talking to yourself as if you were not one and the same?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 8:10 am

I've repeatedly called for a citywide VLF, while SFParkripoff opposes it. SFParkripoff wants no more money for MUNI, while it has consistently been my position that MUNI should be well-funded. Only a total idiot would confuse me for this guy.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 8:26 am

caught trolling multiple websites with different names.

The more you protest, the more evident your guilt.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 8:54 am

Why don't we charge the tech busses for using the bus spaces an amount of money that would actually make an impact, and use THAT to fund improvements of all kinds to the f'd up Muni system? And then hold Muni accountable for showing the effects of those improvements and where the money went? Get real, folks.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 22, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

Sixty six point something million dollar budget shortfall and Mayor Ed Lee cuts parking meter revenues? Then, he calls a town hall meeting asking the public to help him balance the budget.


I'm not rich or even middle class by SF standards and I'm ok with paying my fair share for metered parking. So are my friends who come in from out of town on the weekends. I'm not impressed by free metered parking. I'd be more impressed if Ed Lee could balance his budget like a decent person.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 11:47 am

I live in san jose, east san jose... so I have to drive and park up in the city.
being that currently the parking lots in my area are $15 a day for parking or on event day's $40 dollars for parking (during the work week) and parking ticket is this city are $75+ ... What are they fueling these bus'es with gold dust..

With fee's and fines... in the last 3 months i've paid almost $1000 for parking.

If they can't make do with 6 day's of parking fee's and fines maybe they should dial this bus thing back.

Posted by zbeast on May. 15, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

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