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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nearly Three Hours Worth of Commentary Over Extended Meter Hours -- Did Anyone Remember to Feed the Meter?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge dog_and_parking_meter.jpg
Prior to yesterday's Municipal Transportation Agency meeting, board member Bruce Oka told us "This will be interesting." Whether he meant that in the connotation of "Prime Suspect is an interesting show" or "May you live in interesting times" is up for debate.

What isn't up for debate is that more than 50 speakers lined up to offer their thoughts to the MTA board that will eventually vote on whether or not to extend the city's parking meter hours. At three minutes apiece, that's two-and-a-half hours of commentary, minimum. The 2 p.m meeting lasted until just about 8 o'clock (at least that's when board member Dr. James McCray, Jr. gave us a call and offered the following play-by-play).

As you'd expect, lots of people are upset about potentially feeding the meter until midnight. According to McCray, those opposed made up the majority of the speakers, and objected for three reasons: Merchants felt they were not properly consulted; merchants and others doubted the methodology of the MTA recommendations; and neighborhood people groused about having to run outside and feed the meter to 9 p.m. or midnight. Those in favor of extended meter hours primarily used the "it's time for drivers to share the pain transit riders are feeling" line.

There you go. By the way, that's 150 minutes of commentary in a paragraph. In any event, MTA staff will study the matter further and come back to the board in "a month or two" according to McCray -- so meter enforcement isn't going to change overnight.

Complicating matters, however, is that the current MTA budget assumes $1 million will be derived from enhanced meter enforcement -- and the money's already been spent. What's more, faulty projections on taxi medallions and other revenue sources mean MTA's budget is already $19 million out of whack.

McCray says the MTA board is all too aware of this, and will begin looking at how to balance its next budget -- due in March -- at its Nov. 3 meeting. When asked what solutions they could begin looking at to solve these myriad problems, McCray was candid: "I have no idea."

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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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