Free Sunday meter plan challenged with environmental review

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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