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In a rage that crossed economic and cultural lines, the vast majority of 131 businesses interviewed in the Mission District had this message for Mayor Gavin Newsom: Keep Sunday parking free.

“I pay enough to the city already,” said Shula Ben-Simon, the owner of Lipstick Salon Beauty Shop on Mission Street, sometimes speaking in language not fit for print. “People are not coming and now they [definitely] won’t come … Tell Gavin to come here!”

Jeff Farnsworth, the owner of Farnsworth Gallery on Valencia Street, added, “The last thing you want to do is worry about parking on Sundays.”

The proposal to extend meters citywide was conceived by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to help offset SFMTA’s $16.9 million deficit.

Newsom told reporters earlier this month that he is considering asking drivers to feed the meters on Sundays because businesses have told him that it could help with turnover. He is opposed, however, to extending parking meter hours on weekdays. An attempt in July by Oakland to extend weekday meter hours there failed after merchants revolted.

When the SFMTA conducted its “stakeholder interviews” last year, the agency concluded that businesses approved — with some modifications — of paid Sunday parking.

The SFMTA survey, however, failed to reach into the Mission District and most merchants
were surprised the mayor was considering such a proposal.

Mission Loc@l surveyed 131 businesses late last week and found 80 percent or 106 out of 131 opposed the idea, 20 were undecided and five approved of the proposal.

The survey included interviews with owners or employees of those businesses on Valencia Street from Duboce to 19th street, and on Mission Street from 19th to 26th streets—the same blocks included in the SFMTA study.

Some Mission merchants suggested that instead of charging for parking, Muni should first fix its own problems.

“Muni needs to solve their internal problems first,” said Ivan Lopez, the owner of the Artillery Apparel Gallery on Mission Street, who bikes to work but sometimes drives. “They shouldn’t disperse their problems onto everyone else.”

Salvador Iñiguez, an employee at Modern Hair Cuts on Mission Street, gave the MTA some advice.

“Why don’t they just increase the fare evasion ticket and make it $500,” said Iñiguez, who relies on Muni to get to work.

Even those who approved of the idea, expressed skepticism. “It is socially responsible to ask drivers to pay more if the added revenue actually goes towards service, but not if it goes towards mismanagement,” said Wayne Whelam, the founder of Therapy on Valencia Street.

Other merchants who were opposed said they are already struggling to get customers and Sunday meters would make luring any into their shops more difficult.

“People won’t even want to come to the Mission,” said Hector Mejiva, the manager of Libreria Cristiana Restauracion on Mission Street. “They’ll probably go to South San Francisco or Daly City.”

Check Chew Ng, the owner of A.C. Trading Co. on Mission Street, said, “On Sunday the whole family likes to come to the Mission. They go to mass, eat at a restaurant after and then shop without worrying about parking. If they get a ticket, it’ll ruin the whole day.”

Specialty stores, nightclubs and pawnshops would fare worst because most of their customers drive, merchants said.

Design of Feature Photo and Map by Rick Wallace

“It is ridiculous — they are pushing small businesses out,” said Sabis Deligiorgis, the owner of Hellenic American Greek Imports on Mission Street.

“Most of our customers who come here are driving because they are pawning big items,” said Jose Manoragon, the manager of Best Collateral on Mission Street.

Others found it unsettling that the city wants to take money from a working class neighborhood.

“These guys are worse than the communists,” said Mario Ruiz, an employee at La Internacional on Mission Street referring to the city’s plans.

“Things are already bad,” said Welmer Rivas, an associate at La Guadalupana Jewelry. “They are always taking money from the poor.”

Four of the five who said they favored extended hours were on Valencia Street.

“I think Muni is great,” said Sal Alioto, a customer service representative at Mission Bicycle Company who bikes to work. “It would be great to support it as long as they expanded meter hours in a responsible and thoughtful way – they would work pretty well.

But such remarks were rare and even those whose stores close after 6 p.m., and on Sundays opposed the idea. Some expressed distrust of all city operations.

“Everything that the municipality is doing is lies,” said Alberto Garibotto, the owner of Alberto’s Printing on Mission Street.

Anwar Hanhan, the owner of Shop & Shop Market on Mission Street, said the city should be helping small businesses instead and thinks only City Hall would benefit.

“San Francisco’s already broke — it’s only going to help the crooks who came up with the idea,” he said.

Others like Anthony Montero, the owner of Margot Castro Professional Center on Mission Street, are undecided but ambivalent.

“Unless every other place is doing it, it’s a bad idea,” he said.

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