At the end of a five-hour community meeting Saturday many agreed that extending parking meter hours and demanding accountability from the Municipal Transportation Agency offered solutions to saving Muni and improving service.
More metering, however, remained controversial.
As speakers took to the microphone during the public comment portion of the event, many blamed the crisis on MTA’s mismanagement.
“The money is here if we have the political will to go and get it,” Marc Norton, a bellman for a hotel in San Francisco said at the meeting held at the Women’s Building and attended by about 100 people.
Tom Radulovich, the executive director of Livable City and a BART director, said it was the first time he had seen more than 60 organizations and 100 people come together to discuss Muni.
Joan Wood, a member of Save Muni, which organized the event, said that Save Muni was originally formed to expose flaws within the Central Subway project. She said she hoped such meetings would continue and successfully pressure the MTA into improving service.
Marc Caswell, a program manager from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said weeknight and Sunday metering was “the number one solution,” citing that higher car turnover rates will help merchants – an idea favored by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Mayor Gavin Newsom remains opposed to extending meter hours during the week.
Halfway through the event, the attendees formed eight discussion groups ranging from improving Muni vehicles and maintenance to identifying sources of funding. Each group had five to 10 minutes to discuss their topic and form solutions.
Streetsblog SF reported on the complete list of solutions offered during the meeting.
The resource group agreed that metering was a prime solution, but Radulovich, who led the group added, “It’s hard to fix the funding problem in one five-minute session.”
“It’s part of the solution,” Radulovich said of the meter proposals. “By itself, it’s not going to solve anything.”
A 2009 MTA study found that $8.4 million in profits could be generated from meter hour extensions. It also found that while more than 60 percent of the stakeholders it surveyed favored weeknight metering, only 40 percent favored extending meter hours on Sundays.
Aware that Mission businesses have opposed meter extensions of any kind, Caswell said there needs to be more merchant outreach and education.
“If you ask businesses whether or not they favor meter hours on Sundays or weeknights, that’s like asking them if they favor paying taxes or not,” he said. “[Merchants] need to understand that business might improve for them.”
He added that a meter extension pilot program for select city corridors is something that needs to be implemented soon. MTA Board directors Malcolm A. Heinicke and Bruce Oka also support a pilot program, but have yet to select any corridors to implement the program.
SFMTA President and CEO Nathaniel Ford said during last Tuesday’s MTA Board meeting, that he would have a metering proposal for the board to look at by its March 30 meeting.
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition was among the groups present at the meeting that opposed the idea of extending meter hours.
Forrest Schmidt, who was representing the coalition, said the meter proposals will harm working class families that own cars in the Mission.
He cited a management audit of the MTA as a step towards solving the mismanagement of the agency rather than giving them revenue from meter hour extensions.
“If we get enough of the public angry, we can get the city and the MTA to change,” he added.
Most organizations at the event praised city Supervisors David Campos and Ross Mirkarimi for calling for a management audit of the MTA.
“They need to be put under the microscope,” Radulovich said of the MTA’s mismanagement.
Caswell added that this meeting was the first step toward bringing city organizations together and forming the foundations for solutions.
“We’re all here because we care about having affordable transit for everyone,” he said. “We don’t have all the solutions at this point, but neither does the MTA Board.”
Radulovich said the next step for these organizations would be to formulate long-term revenue ideas, such as the meter proposals, and push to put them on the ballot.