Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vote no on the street bond in November

For years the city has been waging a predatory war on drivers in San Francisco. Mayor Newsom made that policy explicit several years ago: “Make it harder to drive and make it costlier, and then you use the money to fund public transit.” 

The city already extracts a lot of money from everyone who drives in San Francisco. From MTA's San Francisco Transportation Fact Sheet (go to the MTA website, scroll down and click on "reports"): from parking meters, $38,868,351; from the city's parking lots, $37,515,348; from residential parking permits, $7,905,051; and from parking tickets, $95,727,234 for a total of $180,015,984 collected in fiscal year 2009/2010.

The city also has a steady flow of Prop. K sales tax money that's supposed to be used for city streets and our transportation system: $72 million this year. 

(Alas, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority---governed by the Board of Supervisors---is throwing a lot of the Prop. K money---$123 million---into a bottomless pit called the Central Subway project, the political deal masquerading as a transportation project.)

But that's evidently not enough for a bloated city government to keep our streets paved. A story in the Chronicle warns us that City Hall is going to run a $248 million bond by the voters in November to raise more money to maintain city streets, because people in the neighborhoods are getting restless about the condition of their streets. From the Chronicle's story:

[Mayor] Lee said that in a series of recent town hall meetings he convened in neighborhoods across San Francisco, a common demand---or plea---has emerged at each: "Mayor Lee, can we just fix the potholes?"

According to the city, it costs $50 million a year to maintain city streets. Seems like the money the city already raises should more than enough to do that and still leave a lot left over for Muni.

While city voters are voting for a sensible pension system for city workers in November, they should reject this bond and insist that City Hall use the money they already raise to pave our streets.

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