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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So There, Gavin: MTA Board Member Predicts Extension of Parking Meter Hours

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge meter_fail_2.jpg
This figures to be just about as riveting as a Municipal Transportation Agency board meeting can get. On Tuesday, board members get their first chance to weigh in on MTA's controversial plan to extend parking meter hours to evenings and Sundays -- to which Mayor Gavin Newsom, who appointed each and every one of those board members, has already given the evil eye. Folks who resent paying more to park will almost surely angrily remonstrate, as will "transit-first" progressives. It'll be like shaking up an ant farm and calling it municipal government.

It's not particularly challenging to conjure up political reasons why the MTA board will shoot down the meter proposal -- it's a lot easier to get folks riled up about having to pay for services that were previously free than engage the populace in nuanced discussions about why everyone must sacrifice for the greater good. Try arguing with folks about why we deserve to pay for parking until midnight, even as a debating exercise. Now, imagine you're a political appointee tasked with deciding a policy inveighed against by these blood-and-thunder types and despised by the boss man.

And yet, one MTA board member told us he's leaning toward voting for the extended meter hours. And he thinks his colleagues will go along with him.

"Some of the drivers have said they don't like it. But I think the plan we have is fair," said Bruce Oka, a longtime city disability rights advocate and MTA commissioner since 2008. "I have read through the whole package, and, believe me, I am not happy with the entire package. [But] I believe, at this point, there will be some kind of enhanced meter enforcement. I do think we will vote for some meter enforcement."

And you could argue that this is a good thing. Because MTA has already budgeted with the assumption that $1 million is coming in via enhanced meter enforcement (we noted this earlier this month and Melissa Griffin made the point more clearly shortly thereafter). Our City Hall source told us that, if the MTA opts to punt and says hell no to any notion of enhanced meter hours -- which is what Newsom seems copacetic with -- Muni could go the route of piling on yet more service cuts or the stealth version of service cuts: slashing the materials and maintenance budget.

Meanwhile, Oka noted that "there's always the chance the board could give the thumbs-down to the whole [meter hours] proposal. I won't say that's not a possibility. ... But I think the majority of them are going to vote for what is proposed."

And if Newsom doesn't like it? "The mayor has not wanted a lot of things," Oka said curtly. "I support what the mayor wants overall." But when it comes to extending meter hours, "If we have to do it, we'll get it done."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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