Free Sunday meter plan challenged with environmental review


Transit advocacy groups filed an appeal today challenging a controversial vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors to end paid Sunday meters last month

The appeal contests paid Sunday meters were a benefit to many, and the decision to terminate the program was made without adequate review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

"The enforcement of parking meters on Sunday in San Francisco has been doing exactly what it was designed to do," the appeal argues, "reduce traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase parking availability, and increase revenues in the City and County of San Francisco."

The appeal was filed by transit groups Livable City, The San Francisco Transit Riders Union, and an individual, Mario Tanev. The appeal will now go to the Board of Supervisors, for a vote to approve or deny review under CEQA.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose told the Guardian, "We'll take a look at the appeal, but it wouldn't be appropriate to comment at this time." The SFMTA had only just recieved notice of the appeal. 

Proponents of paid Sunday meters also spoke at the SFMTA board meeting, shortly before the paid meters were struck down.

"Your own studies show meters are beneficial to shoppers and businesses," Tanev said during public comment. "You could have used this money to support seniors and people with disabilities who clearly need it." 

And the need from those groups was clear, as over 200 seniors and people with disabilities came to the meeting to advocate for free Muni. The SFMTA board denied the request for free Muni for seniors and disabilities just before voting to approve a budget that included rescinding the paid Sunday meters.

The Sunday meters program brought in $11 million, more than enough money to pay for all of the proposed free Muni programs, as many at the SFMTA meeting pointed out.

Shortly after the vote, SFMTA Board of Directors Chairman Tom Nolan told the Guardian he felt pushed from all sides.

"I've been on the SFMTA board for years, and I've never felt more pressure," he said. "This is the hardest budget in the eight years I've been on the board."

At the meeting, many seniors noted the rising cost of living in San Francisco, combined with declining federal assistance and retirement funds, are forcing hard choices on seniors. Many spoke of forgoing doctor's trips because they could not afford Muni, or of forgoing food in order to afford Muni trips.

"Muni is for everybody, especially those who need it most," Nolan said. "The testimony was very heartbreaking."

Embedded below is the CEQA appeal filed against the free Sunday meter decision.

CEQA Appeal - SFMTA Sunday Meter Enforcement by FitztheReporter


thought it was a good idea to charge for parking on Sundays?

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:47 pm

Because there is a CEQA exemption allowing SFMTA to raise fees and fares when it has a budget crisis. There is no exemption for the opposite, especially if it means an increase in congestion, based on SFMTA's own report.

Posted by Mario Tanev on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:22 pm

You all supported the MTA in imposing SF Park on the Northeast Mission without having to do an EIR, now you are insisting that there be an EIR for removing Sunday metering? No, this is One Big Anti-Car Cootie campaign.

Be careful what you ask for as the EIR might reveal that increasing turnover via demand pricing actually increases VMT as motorists know they can find a space which will most likely delay transit lines near where demand priced meters are sited.

Motorists are not our opponent, the MTA that operates in a corrupt and cavalier manner, are those which that cannot be trusted to invest to beef up a transit system that they've repeatedly run into the ground. The best way politically to get people out of their cars is to provide the carrot of rapid and reliable transit, not to provide the stick of penalties.

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 5:28 am

SFPark was a pilot and that's why it was exempt. SFMTA can choose to launch free Sunday meters as a pilot, and then make it permanent if the data don't show increased congestion. Good luck with that.

Posted by Mario Tanev on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:01 am

Your "be careful what you ask for" statement is bogus. It's not the people driving to a space they know is there that delays MUNI - it's the people double parking because there is no space that delays MUNI. And as far as VMT goes, if someone drives to somewhere there is no parking space, and cannot park, that increases VMT with no net benefit.

The problem with your last paragraph is simple. It is *impossible* to provide rapid and reliable transit on roads completely locked down and congested with private vehicles, barring the invention of flying buses.

This is a classic prisoners dilemma, the more who switch to MUNI because of driving hassles, the less hassle it is to drive, which reverses the gain because driving becomes more attractive. The only way to break that cycle is to add an artificial disincentive to driving. Whether or not that is a noble goal is left to the reader.

Posted by murphstahoe on May. 15, 2014 @ 8:14 am

Nobody really knows how this plays out.

If the NCD with Sunday meters is not directly on a Muni line, say on Valencia between 16/18th then double parkers will not delay transit. In that case, the perceived availability of parking due to market pricing will draw more vehicles there for the easy parking, it is similar to constructing a new parking garage in that regard. If the meters are in a NCD on a transit line street, say 16th, then double parking would delay transit.

Pricing parking for availability is a trip generator and more trips probably delay transit due to more congestion. This needs to be studied via EIR, but you all objected to that when parking was initially metered.

Transit run times are valuable public assets that should not be squandered to pursue a war on cars. The court instructed as much for the bike plan EIR and that turned out to be a wise idea.

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 8:37 am

Circling for parking on Valencia impacts the 14, 14L and 49 buses since the Valencia and Mission form a joint merchant corridor and because circling implies going in circles (turn right, turn right, turn right), which will impact Mission St even if a driver is determined to park on Valencia.

Posted by Mario Tanev on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:54 am

you cannot just punish drivers and tell them to take Muni.

you have to fix Muni first, and that does way beyond less congestion, which isn't close to being Muni's biggest problem.

Muni's biggest problems are a bloated cost structure and rigid working practices, both caused by the fact we tolerate Muni being unionized.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 11:14 am

My suggestion that MTA staff nixed was to leverage Google's gift so that Sunday meter revenues could be used to--gasp--beef up Sunday Muni service to make taking transit slightly less uncompetitive than driving and to--gasp again--show that the MTA is serious about providing robust transit service.

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 11:19 am

Muni doesn't have a money problem. SFMTA has a spending problem. They also live in a time warp. They are planning for 2030 and we are living in 2014.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

But everyone would be too scared for that, so we can carry on with the current dysfunctional system

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

The MTA has both a revenue and a spending problem.

Corruption under mayors Brown, Newsom and Lee have the MTA shunting off resources to everything BUT transit and not taking care of the expensive "toys" we purchase for them. Dollars that go to the MTA enter an unaccountable black hole.

The total amount of resources available to the MTA is not sufficient on the merits to run and operate the Muni at the level of service that would make the Muni an attractive alternative to driving.

Not one more dollar for the MTA until they get their house in order and prove to San Franciscans that their financial controls are not politically manipulable.

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

What would it take to prove it to you? Seems like your mind's already made up.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

You'd need to have spent as much time working with and around the politics, policy and economics as I have to begin to hope to balance any of that out.

I've done the work here.

Posted by marcos on May. 16, 2014 @ 5:29 am

the work you did was bad or wrong or pointless or doomed to failure.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2014 @ 6:09 am

Do you think that anyone drives on Mission Street at times where transit would be delayed if they don't absolutely have to? They'd circle on Guerrero before Mission.

And you're pulling these assertions straight out of your ass as fact without any evidence to justify it because that evidence has not been gathered. All that we're talking about here are hypotheticals and staff bloviating.

There are many possible outcomes here, outcomes that will only be known by rigorous study that has been produced to withstand judicial review. Anything sort of that involves more out-of-ass-pulling. Bring on the EIR!

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 11:22 am

But, hey, dude, since you know that you are doing what you are doing for noble reasons, anything that stands between you and your goal inherently attacks the nobility of your intent and, of course, by extension, you and everything you stand for.

If one is operating with noble intent, than there can not possibly be any potential negative side effects to your noble pursuits.

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 8:49 am

Thanks for the comment. Lets get this out of the way, 10 years in SF and I have not owned a car in 5 years. I hate muni. I never use it. Take BART to work and walk everywhere else. If I had to use MUNI everyday my brain would melt. The most horrible transit system I have ever seen in the world. I would rather drive to work and everywhere most of the time. I can walk faster than 49 buses! It is laughable. Ticket people that double park. Have bus only lanes. Move Mission buses back to Van Ness where they went much faster during the Mission construction a couple years ago. I am going to buy a car again because I am so tired of muni. Sometimes it would be nice to get to the sunset in less than 1 hour from the outer mission. Muni drives me up the wall. I rarely get on a bus without a homeless fight breaking out.

Posted by SF Dude on May. 23, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

now the budget crisis is over, then why should an EIR be relevant to remove it.

Can you understand why drivers might be angry about this end run? Or don't you care as long as you win?

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

And SF OWES us that.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

dude filed his EIR suit over the bike plan?

Being a progressive isn't about anything but getting your way. The last thing being a progressive is about is the environment.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

I'm a progressive and I'm *very* leery about this EIR suit. I don't like abuse of EIR or CEQA at all. But thanks for lumping everyone into a bucket.

That said, I do think the SFMTA screwed up by making Sunday meters free again, but of course they did: they're all subservient to Mr. Lee.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

We didn't elect the SFMTA.

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Posted by reverse phone lookup on Jul. 29, 2014 @ 1:39 am

when they trash progressives. I almost think the trolls who post these things are actually proponents of Sunday meters, because they're working hard to undermine free Sunday parking by driving a wedge between allies.

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Posted by reverse phone lookup on Jul. 24, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

Anyone can appeal to the Board of Supervisors with a CEQA issue. But the real test comes after the BOS rejects the appeal, which it always does on important City Hall projects. Then the appellants have to pee or get off the pot: either they take it to court or they go away. You might get your lawyer to do a relatively inexpensive appeal to the BOS, but taking an issue to court is a much bigger deal and a lot more expensive. We won't know how serious Mario and Co. are until the BOS rejects their appeal.

Posted by Rob Anderson on May. 19, 2014 @ 10:55 am

Official EIR:

It will be exactly like it was for decades until we started charging for Sundays in January 2013 (500 days ago).

Please Paypal the fee for doing this EIR to:

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

more CO2 from angry progressive idiots

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 7:02 pm

The new status quo is meters on Sunday. And reverting them will have an environmental impact. Sunday meters were passed using a CEQA exemption allowing SFMTA to increase fares and fees to pay its expenses. No such exemption exists to do the opposite, especially if the opposite increases congestion based on SFMTA's own report.

Posted by Mario Tanev on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:19 pm

There is no objective environmental data on the impact of various parking meter schemes on congestion, the MTA has always skirted the issue.

Posted by marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

Yup, you definitely have your technicality. There have been 71 days when meters ran on Sundays. New status quo.

You do know that this practice of using CEQA as a political weapon will eventually result in a much weaker CEQA, don't you?

The framers of the law didn't draft it as a tool to stop information gathering on Google buses or to examine what the environment was like before we had paid Sunday meters 71 times.

The EIR on the meters won't be worth the PDF it is written on.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

Is whatever progressives feel entitled to do.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:31 am

It's been used for years on our streets to put in things like the bike injunction or to prevent new transit. This is a bold statement saying "transit advocates will use it too."

I don't agree with the abuse of CEQA at all, but it's been far too one sided on the streets of San Francisco.

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Posted by reverse phone lookup on Jul. 29, 2014 @ 1:38 am

before putting a 500 million dollar transportation bond on the ballot- what a dumb move - no one I know is voting for this bond or the vehicle license fee.

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As a rightie, I vote NO on all bonds except for law enforcement.

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Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:46 pm

This is not a lawsuit. This is an appeal in front of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Posted by Mario Tanev on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:03 am

An appeal is the precursor for a lawsuit. You know full well that this Board of Toadies is not going to challenge Ed Lee's MTA and Planning Department ERO.

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 11:24 am

Except that multiple board members have come out against Ed Lee and the MTA on this. It's not clear there's a consensus on the BoS that this is a good idea. The MTA keeps passing resolutions without funding. Here's a source of funding, and they vote to get rid of it. Great job.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 2:06 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

Has one major advantage over pilot projects that are
exempt: mitigation.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 9:13 am

We need an EIR to charge for parking. Not charging is the status quo and the default.

Nobody should have to justify NOT having meters.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:12 am

Not charging is not the status quo (literally, the status quo is that meters exist on Sundays), and it shouldn't be the default. Should free rent, free produce in supermarkets also be the default? Should Muni be free by default? Our public street space is really expensive and our entire community subsidizes it.

Posted by Mario Tanev on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:56 am

The meters have only operated for a few months.

More generally, all parking is free unless it is specifically subject to meters or other restrictions.

The sole purpose of roads is to hold traffic so it is ridiculous to claim that vehicles should not be parked on the street. Effectively you are saying that a car can be on the street for free as long as it is moving, but not when it stops.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 11:16 am

"The sole purpose of roads is to hold traffic"

And that's where we disagree. Roads were built before cars and serve a variety of purposes. They are public space, plain and simple. The fact that you might want 85% of our public space dedicated to cars is an opinion, not a fact. There is nothing saying that free parking is a right, just as much as free Muni is not a right.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

That is true even if by "traffic" you mean a horse and cart.

And it is ridiculous to say that a car can use a road for free as long as it doesnt stop.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

I didn't say that, I'd happily say cars should pay to use streets too: e.g., congestion pricing.

That said: you pay for a house, a static place of residence. You don't pay every time you walk on the street. The precedence of storage vs mobility has existed for a long time, including the horse era. (In fact, pre-cars in SF, parking your horse on the street overnight was a high violation.)

But no, streets are not solely for moving traffic, I'm sorry. Look around the world and you'll see streets are gathering places, community spaces, leisure/sitting spaces, and more, and they serve a wide variety of uses. Right now 90% of our streets are dedicated to private vehicular traffic only. Someone, reducing that to 80% constitutes a "war on cars."

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

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