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City of San Francisco "Restore Transportation Balance" Parking Meter and Traffic Laws Initiative, Proposition L (November 2014)

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A City of San Francisco "Restore Transportation Balance" Parking Meter and Traffic Laws Initiative ballot question may be on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of San Francisco, California.

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:[1]

  • 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).[2]

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.[2]

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title for this initiative, provided by the city attorney:[1]

Policy Regarding Transportation Priorities[3]

Ballot summary

The following ballot summary was prepared by the city attorney for this initiative:[1]


Full text

The full text of the ordinance enacted by this measure is below:[4]

Restoring Transportation Balance in San Francisco

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:

1. Parking meters should not operate on any City and County holiday listed, on Sundays, or outside the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Commencing July 1, 2015, fees for parking garages, meters, parking tickets, and neighborhood parking permits should be frozen for five years, allowing the City to annually adjust thereafter only for Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases.
2. The introduction of parking meters or variable meter pricing into neighborhoods where they currently do not exist should be allowed only upon petition by the majority of the affected households and merchants.
3 A portion of any additional parking or motorists' fees and new bond monies earmarked for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) should go to the construction and operation of neighborhood parking garages.
4 Any proposed re-engineering of traffic flows in the City should aim to achieve safer, smoother-flowing streets.
5 Traffic laws should be enforced equally for everyone using San Francisco's streets and sidewalks.
6 The seven-member SFMTA Board should include not only four regular riders of Muni, but a fair representation of all transportation stakeholders, including motorists. The SFMTA should create a Motorists' Citizens Advisory Committee in addition to its other advisory committees.
7 The Board of Supervisors shall make every reasonable effort to implement the components of this policy through appropriate legislative and administrative acts, including but not limited to acts relating to enacting, repealing, reconciling, amending, and/or ameliorating the components of this policy with other existing laws, regulations, and policies of the City & County of San Francisco, as well as seeking, encouraging, lobbying for, and promoting appropriate changes in the laws, regulations, and policies of other jurisdictions that may conflict with implementation of the components of this policy.[3]


Restore Transportation Balance logo


The group called Restore Transportation Balance is behind the initiative and collected signatures during the petition drive.[5]

The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods also endorsed the transportation policy found in the initiative.[5]

Other supporters of the initiative include:[5]

Official proponents:

  • 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

Community Leaders

  • 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.[6]

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."[6]

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.”[7]

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."[8]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in California

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.[5][2]

See also

External links

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Additional reading