Friday, July 01, 2011

Congestion Pricing: Whether we like it or not?

Interesting to read this on an urbanist blog:

New York city has twice thrown out plans for a congestion charge, and San Francisco is waiting until 2015 to begin its trial period. When the most enthusiastic response involves waiting four years, you know it’s not good news.

That's good news for everyone but the folks in the anti-car movement, which is led by the bike people. He apparently got the 2015 reference on the city's Congestion Pricing site, which you find via the SFCTA site. That is, Prop. K transportation sales tax revenue isn't paying to pave our streets but instead is paying for studies on Congestion Pricing---a system that will charge us for driving downtown in our own city. The anti-car bike people of course think that's a great idea. Anything that punishes people who drive motor vehicles is a good thing---and it will make money, too!

The 2015 date might be the next time the anti-car movement makes another attempt to sell San Francisco voters on the unpopular idea, but it's not a serious deadline. Not only is the idea unpopular in the city, but there's the little matter of Prop. 26, passed last year by California voters, that requires a two-thirds vote of the people to raise taxes and/or fees. Since a 2009 Chamber of Commerce poll of city voters showed 61% opposed to Congestion Pricing, getting a 2/3 vote seems very unlikely.

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At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a system that will charge us for driving downtown in our own city"

yes, that is the point.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, but the point I'm making here is that it's very unlikely to pass muster with city voters.

At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You dont need 2/3 just like you dont need to vote on parking meter raises or Muni fare hikes.

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Might be a good idea if we started voting on those issues, but Prop. 26 is going to make it hard for those progressive who think government ivolves throwing bundles of tax money off the back of the train. If you need a 2/3 vote to do anything in particular, you're at a disadvantage. Sorry, but Congestion Pricing is not on the table.

At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at the recent budget. They added "fees".

Congestion pricing = a toll. You can raise tolls on the bridges without a vote, you can raise the toll on the roads (right now the toll is zero).

Parking meters
Transit Fares
Bridge Tolls
HOT prices

all seem to be exempt from any voting rules of any kind. It will be easy to get congestion pricing bundled in.

To argue that all of those require 2/3 public vote would simply destroy the state. Especially because then you throw in stuff like university tuition, school lunch fees etc etc

Like the new rural firefighting fee, congestion pricing is not a tax.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Maybe so, but I bet it will be tested in court. But the political barrier is greater. Assuming, as per the Chamber poll, the idea continues to be unpopular in SF---and the poll was of likely voters---it would make shoving this down our throats politically perilous.

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous ride your bike said...

Right on. Thanks for posting, Rob.

This is an awesome idea. Hopefully LA will do the same. Will help increase air quality and help people lose some pounds. see

Mayor Villaraigosa pushes plan for L.A. bike lane network -

At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, this is California, everything ends up in court. And whatever the court decides will be appealed.

I just think it's logical to bundle any form of congestion pricing in the same area as tolls and such, and whatever they fall under the law (Im no lawyer).

That being said, I think congestion pricing is a bad first step for Sf. Drivers from the north and east pay bridge tolls, I think it's fair that drivers from the south pay a toll on their highway as well. Congestion pricing would double-charge bridge users.


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