City of San Francisco "Restore Transportation Balance" Parking Meter and Traffic Laws Initiative (November 2014)
|Voting on Transportation|
|Not on ballot|
If approved, this initiative would establish a declaration of policy for San Francisco's parking meters, parking garages and traffic laws. The declaration would, among other provisions, prohibit the city from:
- charging parking meter fees on Sundays;
- charging parking meter fees on holidays;
- charging parking meter fees outside the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
- putting new meters in neighborhoods without consent from the affected residents and businesses; and
- increasing parking garage, meter or ticket rates for at least five years, with increases tied to the CPI after that.
The proposal would also require the city to enforce traffic laws "equally for everyone using San Francisco's streets and sidewalks" and require representation for motorists in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).
A group called Restore Transportation Balance is behind this initiative, which would not directly enact any binding legislation or directly change any city laws. It would, however, establish transportation and parking policies for the city and county of San Francisco.
Text of measure
The ballot title for this initiative, provided by the city attorney:
Policy Regarding Transportation Priorities
The following ballot summary was prepared by the city attorney for this initiative:
The full text of the ordinance enacted by this measure is below:
With 79% of San Francisco households owning or leasing an automobile and nearly 50% of San Franciscans who work outside of their homes driving or carpooling to work, it is time for the Mayor, the Supervisors, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board to restore a balanced transportation policy for all San Franciscans.
Balanced transportation policies would better serve San Francisco motorists, pedestrians, first responders, taxi riders, Muni riders, and bicyclists, and address the unique needs of the disabled, seniors, and families with children.
The Board of Supervisors created a Transit First policy in 1973. in 1999, the SFMTA was created. Its unelected board was granted exclusive authority to dictate the City's transportation policies. Since then, the Transit First policy has morphed into one that favors only public transportation and bicycles, to the exclusion of any other mode of transportation. Nevertheless, a majority of San Franciscans want the automobile option for its convenience, personal safety, and freedom of movement.
The City has eliminated thousands of off-street and on-street parking spaces through new construction and the creation of new bike lanes. The City also removed the requirement that one parking space be crated for each new residential unit constructed. To make matters worse, the SFMTA has not constructed a single new parking garage since the 1990s. These out-of-balance policies have contributed to a severe shortage of parking spaces in the City.
By eliminating traffic lanes, the City has increased travel times for motorists, Muni riders, and first responders a like. This has contributed to greater congestion on our street, thereby increasing greenhouse-gas emissions.
The City has substantially increased parking garage fees, meter rates, parking ticket fines, and the costs of residential parking permits, while expanding the days and times when meters are enforced. Today, motorists pay a greater share of the SFMTA's budget than do Muni riders.
Motorists' share of funding the SFMTA will continue to rise if the vehicle license fee is tripled, as proposed; parking meters are expanded into residential neighborhoods; and the City follows through on its plans to introduce variable meter pricing to every neighborhood of San Francisco.
It shall be the policy of the City and County of San Francisco that:
The group called Restore Transportation Balance is behind the initiative and collected signatures during the petition drive.
The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods also endorsed the transportation policy found in the initiative.
Other supporters of the initiative include:
- Claire Zvanski - Past President, District 11 Democratic Club
- David Looman
- Jason P. Clark - Vice President, Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco
- Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (CFSN)
- West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WTPCC)
- East Mission Improvement Association (EMIA)
- Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF)
- Libertarian Party of San Francisco
- San Francisco Republican Party
- Log Cabin Republican Club of San Francisco
- Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.) — Chairman, California Senate Committee on Transportation, 1987-1998
- Hon. John L. Molinari — President, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, 1979-1982, 1984-1985
- Hon. Barbara Kaufman — President, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, 1999-2001
- Hon. Anthony P. (Tony) Hall — San Francisco Supervisor, District 7, 2001-2004
- Hon. John Bardis — San Francisco Supervisor, District 11, 1980-1981.
- Hon. Robert P. Varni — Member, San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees, 1989-2001
Arguments in favor
Supporters of the initiative argue that the city has been using "transit first" priority planning and policy to dictate city development for years and that it has produced a city in which it is very hard to drive an automobile, despite the fact that 79 percent of San Francisco households own or lease a car, and nearly 50 percent of San Francisco residents who work outside of their homes drive or carpool to work. Proponents cite the elimination of parking spots and parking garages, increased parking ticket fees, parking garage fees and parking meter rates, the expansion of parking meter zones into residential areas, the expansion of bike lanes and the elimination of car lanes as evidence that the city is developing in an unfair, anti-motorist direction.
Restore Transportation Balance spokesperson Jason Clark said, "People are getting fed up that a 'transit first' policy means making people who use a car so miserable that they have to use other, less desirable options. We're proposing a policy to change that."
The coalition behind the initiative stated, “We realize that motorists contribute a disproportionate share of the funding to the SFMTA while receiving next to nothing in return... The Transit First policy has morphed into one that favors only public transportation and bicycles to the exclusion of any other mode of transportation. Nevertheless, a majority of San Franciscans want the automobile option for its convenience, personal safety and freedom of movement.”
When the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) eliminated parking meter charges on Sundays at the behest of Mayor Ed Lee, some said it was an indication of motorist representation with regard to transportation policy. The RTB responded, “We hope to repeal Sunday parking meters forever, not just as a gimmick to encourage motorists to support higher taxes and fees this November and in future elections."
Path to the ballot
On July 7, 2014, the coalition called Restore Transportation Balance submitted 17,500 signatures to the San Francisco elections office. If the elections office certifies that at least 9,702 of the submitted signatures are valid, the measure will go before voters on November 4, 2014.
- Local transportation on the ballot
- San Francisco City and County, California ballot measures
- November 4, 2014 ballot measures in California
- San Francisco Government website, "City Attorney's ballot language for Transportation Initiative," archived June 11, 2014
- San Francisco Chronicle online, "Signatures filed for 3 S.F, ballot measures," July 7, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Restore Transportation Balance website, "Initiative text," archived July 11, 2014
- Restore Transportation Balance website, accessed July 11, 2014
- SFist, "Signature Fraud Allegations Fly Over Ballot Initiative Intended To Protect Motorists' Interests," July 9, 2014
- San Francisco Chronicle online, "Calling all cars … San Francisco motorists call for “transportation balance”," April 23, 2014
- SF Streets Blog, "Free Parking Forever: Motorhead Group Wants to “Restore Balance” in SF," April 24, 2014