By John Geluardi
Mayor Gavin Newsom put Rescue Muni members at ease Monday night when he assured them of his opposition to Proposition H, which was sponsored by his billionaire benefactor Don Fisher.
The public announcement was a relief to pro-public transportation organizations who oppose the thousands of new private parking spaces in downtown high rises the measure would allow.
“I’m surprised people don’t know I’m against Prop H,” Newsom said. “I don’t think they want to know that.”
Misleadingly billed as a parking regulation measure for the city's residential neighborhoods, it would actually increase by five-fold the number of allowable parking spaces in downtown office buildings, opponents say. Currently, the city’s zoning ordinance allows a 10-story office building to add roughly two stories of parking. If voters approved Prop. H in November, a 20-story building would be able to add 10 stories of parking, according to the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association's ballot analysis.
Creating thousands of new parking spaces downtown would encourage more commuter traffic and deal a major setback to years of transit friendly city policies designed to reduce vehicle traffic and increase reliance on public transportation.
Prop. H would also strip power from the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors and neighborhood groups to plan parking in their communities. There would be one citywide parking ordinance that would scoff at historic amenities, unique geographic features and neighborhood sensibilities.
In fact, Prop. H would allow property owners who want to add garages onto existing homes to bulldoze irksome trees and bus shelters practically at will to make room for new driveways.
But Newsom didn’t exactly fly in the face of his wealthy, Republican benefactor. In fact, he said he will not actively campaign against Prop. H because he will be too focused on his re-election campaign (yes, the un-opposed candidate actually said that with a straight face, which should make Chicken John feel better about not getting those public campaign funds or "cluck bucks").
Oh yeah, Newsom said he will also be very busy defeating Prop. E, the measure backed by Supervisor Chris Daly that would require the mayor to make regular presentations to the Board of Supervisors.
“I’ll have to put a large amount of energy into Prop. E, which is just perverse,” Newsom said. “Someone should tell Chris Daly it will be his fault if H passes.”