PESKIN MUNI REFORM PROPOSAL goes to November ballot

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Aaron Peskin, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, seen presiding over July 31 2007 meeting.
PHOTO BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photographer
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

SEE RELATED COPROPHAGOUS AARON PESKIN BLINDSIDES THE CITY

BY EMMETT BERG

Legislators in San Francisco today passed a package of reforms designed to empower and improve city municipal Transportation Agency service, despite a divided Board of Supervisors that voted 7 to 4 on the issue.

Now voters this fall will get to a chance to weigh for themselves the array of transit organizational changes when they are asked to ratify the changes to the city charter in November.

Opposed to the charter amendments were supervisors Ed Jew, Michela Alioto-Pier, Gerardo Sandoval and Jake McGoldrick.

They are apparently joined in opposition by Mayor Gavin Newsom, who late last week released a statement reversing his support.

The statement came following what Newsom said were late changes to the terms brokered by
supervisors, employee unions and city officials.

The fuss concerns language in the amendment that supposedly makes it harder for lawmakers to pass increases to downtown parking allotments, which have been sought by developers of high-rise condominiums and others in the business community.

Overall, the changes include transferring some of the functions now belonging to the city Department of Parking and Traffic to Muni, like parking rates and fees. It would abolish the Taxi Commission and fold those responsibilities into Muni. It would also remove from future supervisors’ agendas votes on stop signs placements, street curb matters and traffic
control measures.

Personnel changes would also take effect, such as increasing the number of employees serving at the pleasure of the executive director, and enshrining performance bonuses that could in part upend the seniority-based salary system that unionized employees now work under.

The agency will spend about $668 million providing service this fiscal year. The proposed charter amendment would increase by $26 million, or double the current yearly amount Muni takes in from parking taxes.

The proposed charter amendment is the largest transit overhaul since the approval by voters in 1999 of Proposition E, which created the San Francisco MTA.

The charter amendment would allow Muni for the first time to float revenue bonds and raise cash to meet agency-specific priorities. A half-cent portion of the city sales tax flows to Muni and could be useful for raising even more money.

Bay City News

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photographer
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and East Bay media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past three years.

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