The Muni vs. housing clash

Two recent meetings illustrate the difference between legislating based on people's needs and agency politics


OPINION Two votes at the Board of Supervisors and the Municipal Transportation Agency Dec. 4 laid out a stark contrast between two different approaches to transportation advocacy — one based on a sense of justice and the idea that public transit is an issue of equity, and another based on the self interest and transactional politics of a cash-strapped transportation agency and its dedicated allies.

After years of work, organizing transit riders and talking to policy makers from the local to the regional levels, a scrappy group of transit justice advocates, many of them young, most of them people of color, got the Municipal Transportation Agency board to approve a $1.6 million plan to fund free Muni passes for low-income youth. It sent a strong message that a new kind of transportation advocacy has arrived, one that puts race, class, and environment at the center.

Meanwhile, a separate vote was taking place at the Board of Supervisors that seemed to pit community organizations, nonprofit service providers, and affordable housing developers on opposite sides of the fence from what has become a mainstream transportation and bicycle advocacy community.

We should have been on the same side. But a last-minute maneuver by Sup. Scott Wiener to add to the MTA's strained budget (a worthy goal) by expanding the 30-year Transportation Impact Development Fee (TIDF) to include nonprofits that provide critical services in our neighborhoods backfired and sent his amendments out the door in a 9-2 vote.

Many transportation and bicycle advocates seemed incredulous that the rest of the world did not accept their arguments.

I consider many of these transportation advocates friends and acquaintances whom I have known and worked with for years. But rather than seeing themselves as part of a greater social justice movement rooted in the communities who are most affected, some of these advocates have become increasingly narrow in their scope, single-minded in their pursuit of funding for bike lanes and bulbouts, as well as rapid transit projects serving downtown commuters.

Real-world politics requires that activists, organizers, and policy advocates be flexible and willing to figure out how to work with others very unlike themselves. Recently an organization I work for was able to work in a broad coalition, convened by the mayor, to develop and campaign for a Housing Trust Fund to create a permanent source of funding for affordable housing, as a direct response to the State of California taking away the city's housing budget when it dissolved the redevelopment agencies. We walked into the room knowing that we would have to make tough decisions, and have to take those back to our allies in the progressive movement.

But we also walked in with non-negotiables. We were not going to entertain any attempt at weakening rent control by tying the Housing Trust Fund to lifting the condo conversion lottery. We would not support a set-aside without increasing city revenue to support not just our housing trust fund but also critical health and social services. We do not screw over our broader movement for pure self-interest.

We stand at a crossroads, and we could very well end up with two different transportation advocacy communities, both talking about the same thing, but with very little to say to each other. As the old mineworker's song used to say, it's time to decide: "Which side are you on?"

Fernando Martí works at the San Francisco Information Clearinghouse


Most transportation and bicycle advocacy organizations are themselves non-profits, Frenando, so if imposing the TIDF was so detrimental wouldn't they also be against it? Beyond that, if a non-profit is responsible for a large enough new development that qualifies for having significant TDIF fees applied, I would say they are probably in a secure enough position to handle the financial impact.

The reality is that any sort of large, new development will instigate the same types of traffic and congestion increases, regardless of the nature of the organization responsible. If the city doesn't have a mechanism in place to account for these impacts across the board then the planning process starts breaking down.

Posted by Prinzrob on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 7:52 am

similar sizes have similar impacts. In some cases a new development is just a like-for-like replacement of an existing facility that will then be closed, meaning that there is effectively no net impact. This is often the case, for instance, with hospital rebuilds, which are in situ.

While in other cases, where that development is entails a wide disparity of impact scenario's, because there may be either excess or inadequate infrastructure already in place.

Again, non-profits get their funding from the taxpayers, so it is legitimate to question whether raising taxes from revenue streams that are themselves from taxes is reasonable or equitable.

Finally, the meeting also carved out a significant exclusion for developments that are vehicle or transit related anyway. Clearly entities like Muni, PG&E, AT&T, ComCast, FedEx, UPS etc. need facilities to store service vehicles overnight and they were specifically excluded from any impact fees, along with business directly related to vehicles e.g. car dealerships and repair shops.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 10:35 am

So it sounds like your take is that TDIFs should reflect a development's actual expected impact, which I agree with, but I still don't see how a developer's non-profit status is relevant. The impact remains, regardless. It also sounds like you are arguing that the many possible "impact scenario's" render this type of mitigation faulty, so shouldn't you actually be arguing against ALL TDIFs?

My take is that non-profits should not get a blanket exemption, as that encourages abuse, even related to developments that are indeed having a significant impact on the surrounding streetscape which would otherwise warrant mitigation. Non-profits have just as much responsibility to the communities in which they operate as for-profit organizations. We could argue about the social merits of some organizations that are legally classified as non-profits, but even if they are doing wonderful work that doesn't negate the street-level impact their new development might have.

Please also note that most non-profits receive some level (often high) of non-taxpayer funding, made possible instead from donations and grants awarded by individuals, businesses, community organizations, corporations, etc. Besides that, funding going from one government-related pocket to another happens constantly and is not detrimental, as each entity has its own budget and its own interests.

Posted by Prinzrob on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

account the public good being served (or not).

A pure for-profit commercial venture should pay a fee that reflects it's actual impact. But if a non-profit is doing something that the City would otherwise have to do, like providing social or health care, then the impact fee makes no more sense than charging Muni an impact fee for all the real estate that they use.

If you're going to charge non-profits, then should we charge a fee to city departments as well? They certainly have a lot of buildings and some of them look very new to me, e.g. the SFMTA and DPW buildings are very nice indeed.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 6:46 am

"If you're going to charge non-profits, then should we charge a fee to city departments as well?"

That's a legitimate argument, but it is a straw man and doesn't affect this conversation about whether non-profits should pay TIDFs or not.

Again, I stand by my previously stated position that the current arrangement is ripe for abuse, and although most (not all) non-profits do provide a valuable public good they typically don't do anything related to improving the surrounding streetscape and mitigating congestion. Therefore a TIDF is still warranted. If you think that there is no value in mitigating these impacts then that is an arguable statement, but it is fallacious to state that non-profit developments simply have less impact on their environments than for-profit developments.

Posted by Prinzrob on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 7:42 am

less impact. But rather that any negative impact MAY be offset by the public good that they do, and particularly if that means that the City does not have to fund the same service directly.

In other words, the word "impact" cuts both ways i.e. it can be both positive and negative if it is furnishing a useful public service. Wheras a for-profit development achieves no real public good and so the gross impact is also the net impact.

I guess I'm really just saying that "it all depends" and I'd prefer a case-by-case assessment rather than a blanket rule. In the same way that affordable housing setasides have a negotiable element, and even (with Twitter etc.) payroll taxes can be waived, so impact fees should be individually variable, appropriate and negotiable.

One size fits all for such a variable phenomenon doesn't feel right somehow.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 8:05 am

"But if a non-profit is doing something that the City would otherwise have to do, like providing social or health care, then the impact fee makes no more sense than charging Muni an impact fee for all the real estate that they use."

Idiot. Newsom started charging Muni for the cost of City services that they allegedly consume and that cost has been passed onto riders and taxpayers.

Why give the nonprofit developers and their charges a free ride because they are politically connected and have cut increasingly crappy deals with developers while charging the rest of the non-connected non-rich full freight?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:38 am

utilize the services of another department. That is standard accounting practice in any organization and serves as a deterrant for consuming city services just because they are perceived as being free and unlimited.

For muni, the biggest element is paying for special SFPD patrols and duties, in much the same way as organizers of private events have to do that.

Non-profits don't get a "free ride" but we certainly should take into account their actual impace, both positive and negative, in determining whether a fee is appropriate. One size fits all is clearly inappropriate and that is really all the Supes decided.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

Idiot. The bulk of the Muni work order to the SFPD is not for security, it is to finance the entirety of the traffic company. There is a small work order for the phantom cops who are supposed to take transit but it is nothing close to the traffic company work order.

The corporate sector, both for and non-profit will not be happy until San Franciscans are compelled to bear in procession to our economic overlords gold bricks on red velvet pillows with golden tassels.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

public and private sector. You cannot run any kind of enterprise pretending that parts of your cost base are zero.

Muni saves money by not having their own police force. They chhose to spend that instead on SFPD services. If you want to argue that Muni should have it's own police force, like BART, then make that case. And of course Muni does have a non-armed force to catch fare-evaders.

But we can assume a dedicated police force has been evaluated and deemed more expensive and messy than simply paying for SFPD support. I've seen cops on Muni quite a lot - I guess we ride different lines?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

That is an accounting choice that was recently implemented, "coincidentally" in the amount of $26m just as the voters approved $26m for Muni.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

So it sounds like your take is that TDIFs should reflect a development's actual expected impact, which I agree with, but I still don't see how a developer's non-profit status is relevant. The impact remains, regardless. It also sounds like you are arguing that the many possible "impact scenario's" render this type of mitigation faulty, so shouldn't you actually be arguing against ALL TDIFs?

My take is that non-profits should not get a blanket exemption, as that encourages abuse, even related to developments that are indeed having a significant impact on the surrounding streetscape which would otherwise warrant mitigation. Non-profits have just as much responsibility to the communities in which they operate as for-profit organizations. We could argue about the social merits of some organizations that are legally classified as non-profits, but even if they are doing wonderful work that doesn't negate the street-level impact their new development might have.

Please also note that most non-profits receive some level (often high) of non-taxpayer funding, made possible instead from donations and grants awarded by individuals, businesses, community organizations, corporations, etc. Besides that, funding going from one government-related pocket to another happens constantly and is not detrimental, as each entity has its own budget and its own interests.

Posted by Prinzrob on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

Just because we did not get to charge business that slows down transit for their impacts the first time is no argument for giving them a free pass when they rebuild.

Otherwise, the costs are simply shifted off the firm's balance sheet and onto the backs of San Francisco taxpayers as corporate welfare.

Business lobbyist hacks will not be happy until San Franciscans are compelled to march in procession towards our economic overlords, bearing gold bricks on red velvet pillows with golden tassels.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:35 am

developments were simply like-for-like replacements, and therefore there is no new or additional impact. It seems fairly clear to most observors that an impact fee should be levied where there is some actual net impact.

A further case was made for the distinction between for-profit and non-profit development since so many (but maybe not all) of the latter have a social imperative that benefits the city far more than any negative impact.

It's a complicated issue and not simple in the way you describe.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:59 am

It seems that those who have economic claims on discretionary public sector decision making seek to rig those decisions so as to relieve themselves of as many costs as possible by shifting them onto the backs of San Francisco's taxpayers and are doing quite well at this project.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

it's "rigged" or "fraud" or was "bought"? Of course . .

Has it ever occured to you that maybe the decision-makers have that job and not you precisely because they see the bigger pragmatic picture while you just have an ideological axe to grind?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

Are you suggesting that all of that money is spent on politics with no intent to secure a desired outcome?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

Transportation and bicycle advocacy organizations are not direct-service providers and therefore don't require facilities to carry out their work. Social service and affordable housing nonprofits by contrast do -- for example, clinics, outreach centers, food banks, training centers, childcare facilities, one-stops, meeting halls, legal aid offices, etc etc. Direct service work has a real bricks and mortar presence that is different from simple "advocacy". It is those kinds of physical spaces owned/operated/leased by nonprofits that provide services to poor, working class and special needs populations in our communities that were proposed to be suddenly hit with per-square-foot transit fees. The transportation and bicycle advocates by contrast would have incurred no impact whatsoever from the transit fee proposal. While they may have thought they were well intentioned in their quest for more funding to MUNI, they clearly had no sense of the nonprofit community they would be skewering in the process.

Posted by biker on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

Right on. Increasing MTA funding through new fees on nonprofits is a huge conversation -- not one for backrooms or for one narrow interest group to decide. The conversation should have been open, on the table, and inclusive of all the stakeholders from the get-go. If the Supervisor really wants to solve the transit funding problem, he needs to help convene not divide and conquer.

Posted by Susan Crank on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 8:26 am

otherwise cost the city's taxpayers a lot of money to provide. The most obvious example is some of the hospitals that are run as non-profits to enable more affordable healthcare to the city's residents. But for those, SFGH would be even more overloaded, and/or the health of our citizenry would be compromized.

Likewise, non-profits furnish vital services to the homeless, the aged, the mentally ill, and so on.

That's why many deem it appropriate to exclude non-profits from a tax which quite clearly is directed at speculative property development and not the rollout of human services.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 8:48 am

Outsourcing the provision of social services from the government to private nonprofit corporations decreases accountability with no demonstrable cost savings.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

employyes being uncompetitive in terms of pay and benefits with the private sector. If I can hire a private bus driver for 30K pa (which I can) then why would I pay a Muni operator twice that?

You can make the same case for any other public service with the possible exception of public safety and homeland defence.

You had your shot at public everything in the 1960's and 1970's, where the government took on all kinds of duties they were ill-suited for. (The situation was even worse in Europe, where governments found themselves running steel companies, airlines, phone companies, car manufacturing and a whole host of other non-governmental services.

Reagan, Thatcher et al changed all that and I doubt that we're going back, and certainly not while the public sector is over-unionized and uncompetitive.

Private entities can be held just as accountable, either through the courts or via oversight committes such as we see with utilities.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

Next year we have an incredible opportunity to learn from these two votes, as the city embarks on a discussion of its new “Transportation Sustainability Program.” What follows are some suggestions for where to begin:

1. For starters, we could talk about the proper criteria for charging fees on nonprofits, for example a limit based on size of development (as Sup. Weiner suggested at the last minute), or perhaps a criteria based on the kind of service (safety net service providers or affordable housing), or the economic and racial disparities of the population being served, or whether the project or service receives city funding.

2. We could discuss the cockamamie idea that somehow it’s OK for the city to budget money for social services, health care, and affordable housing and then turn around and shift millions of those dollars over to MTA, and the similarly questionable that it’s OK to for the city to fund the MTA and then shift millions of the MTA’s dollars over to the Police Department and other agencies for “work orders.”

3. We could talk about the $9 million dollars wasted on “Proof of Payment” enforcement for a paltry $1 million in recouped fares.

4. We could take this opportunity to reopen a discussion about a Central City transit assessment to fund Muni’s chronic operations and maintenance woes.

5. We could discuss the balance between funding rail and BRT trunk lines that serve mainly downtown employers, and funding the complex web of bus lines that serve the city’s diverse working class communities.

6. We could talk about linking the construction of any parking spaces at all to funding for transportation impacts, rather than social and health service nonprofits, or talk about a vehicle license fee, or other ways of linking car use in a Transit First City to funding transit alternatives.

7. And we should really talk about how we, as a city, work collectively to achieve the lofty foals of the city’s various plans, from its Transit First City policy to its new Housing Trust Fund to its Health Master Plan (which promotes new decentralized community-based clinics that might fall under Sup. Weiner’s nonprofit fees), and how we work together without falling into a competition over resources and pitting community advocates against each other.

Posted by Fernando Marti on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

If SFMTA didn't make payments to SFPD for work done, then Muni would have to hire it's own police force, like BART has. So, either way, they have to pay for security. Transit should be fully costed out, even if we choose to then subsidize some of that cost.

The "proof of payment" enforcement does pay for itself, not because it collects a million in fines, but because it deters fare evasion, which saves much more. The investment is made to persuade people that skipping that fare is too risky. Who would pay if they knew there was no enforecement?

Oh, and bikes aren't public transit at all. It's the ultimate in private transit since even a car can carry multiple persons - a bike is individual. So transit and bike advocacy groups laren't a unified whole - in fact, they often conflict which was the basis of the demands for EIR's on new bike lanes that went to court.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 6:52 am


1. the crowding and congestion impacts on Muni are the same for luxury housing as they are for nonprofit housing and must be accounted for accordingly. There is no free lunch when it comes to socializing the financing of transit. If nonprofits cannot afford these fees, which are "practicable" which means they cover 2/3 max of impacts leaving existing San Franciscans to suffer the burdens of the breach, then nonprofits cannot afford to build in San Francisco. If you expect for taxpayers to subsidize both nonprofit housing and the impacts of that housing when our infrastructure is crumbling, you'd best think again.

2. The MTA is run as a cash cow not as a cash sink. Money flows from the MTA to other non-social services as part of the municipal corruption that in part underpins the financing of the CCHO constituent developers. You all are not permitted to question these allocations so don't even tease us as you would

3. How about eliminating farebox recovery as a means of financing the Muni so as to--wait for it--build a coalition that expands way past your comfort zone and includes the big chunk of San Franciscans who are not living in destitute poverty and are thus deemed "rich" by the poverty nonprofiteers and who have no place in what is left of your political coalition? This would abrogate the tacit agreement that the nonprofits have with the mayor to not challenge any grand alignments, only to seek tweaks on their terms so it aint gonna happen.

4. A downtown district would require a vote of downtown property owners to tax themselves and that is not going to happen. We (Peskin, Mirkarimi) also looked into a fee to charge businesses located at the end of radial lines for the extra service that delivers workers and customers to their doors, but even before a subsequent initiative put an end to legislative fees, the CA nixed the notion.

5. This matter was under discussion during the TEP 2005-08 and there were few voices in the room aside from me who though that Muni should serve the transit dependent with the same resources as the transit choice riders, that getting to school, the market and doctor should be as important as getting to work. The latter won out as was intended per the gentrification program that the nonprofits have signed onto and the TEP reflects that priority.

6. These discussions have been on and off for the better part of a decade. Problem being, that the nonprofit housing developers like the for profit developers developed a major case of ADD once they got their inclusionary set aside (since partially squandered for guarantees of hard cash and developer bonanza) and envelope upzoning respectively and moved on to what was next. Comprehensive planning is impossible when the stakeholders are dependent on city resources and look no further than filling their coffers for the next year or so and stand down once sated.

7. It is unethical for those dependent upon city resources for their sustenance to have any role to play in deciding policy priorities and how money is spent. You cannot serve two masters, both the corrupt Mayor's office and San Franciscans.

Finally, transit in San Francisco is under disinvestment and the regional situation is even worse. It is wrong to perpetuate the myth that slightly more intense transit in SF can serve as the predicate for so-called transit oriented upzoning if the regional network is incapable of holding up its end of the bargain. I'll not hold my breath for the CCHO to bite the hand that feeds it and demand comprehensive reality based planning that is not in service of developers first.

Activist centered politics has failed us. It is time to move towards San Franciscan centered politics. The only live question is whether the nonprofits be with San Franciscans or with developers, activists and the corrupt Mayor?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 9:39 am

gave Lee a 60-40 victory at the polls over those who advocate the very same policies as you suggest would be preferable.

And that is the dilemma that all "progressives" face. Their polcies, whether "transit first" or anything else, just don't resonate with the people. You're asking the people to vote against their own interests, instead of first asking the people what those interests are.

Activism is about trying to impose on the majority what they don't want, just because you personally think it would be better.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:15 am

None of these policies were on the table during the 2011 mayor's race, not from Avalos and certainly not from Lee.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:25 am

critical mass nor universal appeal. They are, at best, fringe policies and as such would be better represented by Avalos than Lee. It's not unreasonable to look at the Lee-Avalos 60/40 result and say that moderate interests prevailed over progressive interests.

That pesky silent majority again.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:50 am

You are free to submit a voter initiative on these policies if none of the candidates are proposing them.

But in practice, I suspect there was a candidate proposing something more like this - the Green Party candidate, perhaps? How many votes did she get? 1,000?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:00 am

These issues have been put before the voters and generally pass easily.

The original Transit First policy from the 1980s. Prop B in the late 80s to set up the SFTA, Transit First in the Charter of 1996, Prop E in 99 to try to get Muni running, Prop A in 2007 to direct more parking to Muni, and Prop K sales tax to keep the SFTA moving.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:09 am

haven't been tried. Than you complain that they always win and we already have them. Which is it?

As noped, "Transit First" is a fuzzy feelgood notion that doesn't translate into the real world. It's little more than a cliche.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:28 am

These ideas win repeated elections after which resources are mustered to deny the outcome of those elections and to continue the regime of extractive municipal corruption.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

minds of either the electorate and/or those in power. If the idea really held traction, it could not be over-ridden so effortlessly.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

Effortlessly? Running circles around San Franciscans don't come cheap, both in terms of time and of money.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

And unions pump money into their pet causes.

You have had plenty of chances to gain power, but you either fluffed them, or briefly got power and then messed up.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

that it follows that they are also pro-renters, anti-business, pro-tax, anti-discrimiantion, pro-whales, anti-nuclear and so on. In other words, you assume that we all follow the same "cookie cutter" approach to politics, where we are conveniently labelled either liberal or conservative, and our votes on every issue can be predicted.

The truth is much different and far more complex. Many of us hold a unique mixture of both conservative and liberal views. Many of us might be Democrat on social issues but Republican on economic issues.

The Impact Fee issue was interesting because it split what you regard as a cohesive liberal community, and showed that in fact it isn't cohesive at all, but rather a mishmash of often competing, conflicting and contradictory interests. So, in my case anyway, I support the general idea of an Impact Fee where there is a demonstrable increase in infrastructure required AND where the developer is a for-profit business that isn't involved in the vehicle trade. But not otherwise. The meeting broadly followed that precept.

As an aside, it would be hlpful if you didn't feel the need to include the PC phrase "people of color" as if race should be a factor in high-level political debates. We've moved well beyond that kind of race-based thinking now.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 8:34 am

More BS from Non Profit Inc., greedily lapping up tax dollars and yet not wanting to be part of the city as a whole, and never producing the housing they claim they produce.

SIt down, STFU and take your medicine, you greedy tax funded pig.

Posted by This is BS on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 10:17 am

utilizing of tax revenues to provide services to the poor and needy?

Whatever next? Supporting Israel? Arguing against gay marriage? Romney for President?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 10:27 am

I'm a longtime activist, but when Wiener introduced his amendment, it sounded like a good idea to me. He highlighted organizations like SFMOMA, which is a large nonprofit building a huge new structure. Large institutions like SFMOMA aren't what I think of when I think of organizations that "provide critical services to our neighborhoods." And large structures like museums have an unquestionable impact on our transit infrastructure once they open. I also understood from press coverage of the amendment that small nonprofits would be exempt. These arguments convinced me to support Wiener's amendment. But if I'm mistaken, or only seeing part of the picture, I'd like to understand what I'm missing and what impacts I'm not recognizing.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 10:30 am

Using a non-profit legal structure is often a strategic decision. Most large non-profits get funding from wealthy individuals, tax-free foundations, and governments. And most large non-profits reflect the values and biases of these large donors.

This idea that non-profits are mere incarnations of Mother Teresas is false. The Mother Teresas of the world don't use or need formalistic legal structures such as "non-profits" to fulfill their life's charitable work. Just as charities will still exist even when there are no longer tax write-offs for millionaire charitiable contributions, so will charties still exist even if they have to pay for the transportation and other negative community impacts from their large development projects.

The donors benefiting from large non-profits are the same people who are the biggest landlords and business executives sending jobs overseas. They can easily pay for the transportation impacts caused by their developments.

I love it when progressives become the spokespeople for the monied and powerful, who hide behind the "non-profit" label to pursue their personal ambitions that often negatively impact the rest of us.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 11:30 am

fact that people who visit SFMOMA are "richer" than average shouldn't enter into it. This is an impact fee and should relate to the impact, if any, that a facility incurs.

Since most people walk to SFMOMA from an existing hotel or bus/train stop, there may be minimal impact in that case.

And of course your example is rather cherry-picked - most non-profits are publicly funded and provide public services. We should be careful if we find these fees are being paid with tax dollars that we already collect!

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

This is the big reason why noting really gets done in the city, I didn't think MUNI was going to end up being a about justice and fairness. Keep thinking it if a transit system, get people on the bus.

Posted by Garrett on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

Bigger factors are the high pay scales for low-level operators, the scandalously high health and pension benefits they get, and the rigid working practices.

Fix those before asking us for more revenues. You don't usually invest more in people who have let you down in the past, but rather in proven winners.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

This is why San Francisco is become a city of wealthy folks, who would want to deal with housing in the city or ride a bus. You solve housing by building housing, yes you have to use private money most of the time, you have developers who build the housing. Guess that is why they call them developers, you aren't going to get twitter to build it. MUNI is a transit agency, they move people around, yes they should worry about riders, I support low fares for students. There main business is transit, buses, cable cars, trolleys and getting to point A to Z in a timely manner.

Posted by Garrett on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

makes almost no use of high-rise apartment buildings, unlike almost everywhere else in the US. High-rise is the cheapest way to construct mass housing, and is transit-friendly.

Anyway, impact fees mostly hit commercial buildings. The argument here, however, is that they should not hit entities that are not in the business of mkaking money, but rather are in the business of providinghuman services that otherwise the City would have to provide, or do without.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

If you don't think SF has high-rise housing compared to the other 99 cities that are near it, perhaps you should visit SF one day. A plane ride to SFO would be best since then you would plainly see the absurdity and falseness of your statement.

If the other 99 cities that are right next door to SF would have even 50% of the housing density of SF there would be no housing "shortage" and rents would drop dramatically. Even matching SF density along the 101, 280, 80 and 580 freeway corridors would create hundreds of thousands of housing units, relieving the acute pressure on SF home prices and rents.

Of course Mayor Lee likely would be opposed to neighboring towns building up housing density since this would undercut his well-planned strategy of encouraging tens of thousands of high paying jobs in the city so that the newly arrived workers will evict current residents, drive up rents, and convert rental apartments to TICs and condos. Mayor Lee went to Boalt Law. He's much smarter than the rest of us. He understands that rich people are a lot better for his political fortune, and are much better for the financial fortunes of his developer, landlord, and property speculator supporters.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

In practice that means no more than 3-4 floors, rather than the 30-40 you typically see in NYC, LA, Chicago and so on. There are some opportunities to vary that zoning near major transit routes, and I've noticed a few 6-floor buildings going up. By of course by definition that wouldn't have any "impact" in the context of this fee.

You could build 100 40-floor apartment buildings in the under-utilized SE part of the city, and house maybe 50,000 people there right off the bat. But of course the deciders on that all own RE and don't want to see new supply. Hell, even the Hestor's, Welch's and Redmond's of this world all have a vested personal interest in high RE prices.

I do agree with you that we should be aggressively building outside of SF. But as you note, the Bay area is balkanized and instead of decisions being made together and for the good of the BA as a whole, we're a bunch of weird, parochial fiefdoms playing begger-thy-neighbor.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

What a crock. First off, Prop C will create less affordable housing than the status quo ante. But Prop C throws a lifeline to all of the affordable housing developers to keep their staff paid while shifting the burden from developers onto the backs of the taxpayers. The only thing that developers offered was to not campaign against C. That is the politics of the heroin addict negotiating away whatever is needed for a fix.

Winners: developers, losers: San Franciscans.

Residents of nonprofit housing are going to need to pay their fair share as they consume their share of City services otherwise the burden is going to fall square on the working San Franciscans fortunate enough to not be in need of nonprofit services.

The problems facing Muni are orders of magnitude more expensive than the $1.6m for low income youth win.

And Steven is correct that the San Francisco Bourgeoiscycle Coalition and allies can be bought off with a parklet and see market based pricing of everything bad as a liberal policy dream.

Compromise is necessary, but in both cases, mere crumbs are accepted in exchange for serious damage to big picture sustainability. A lot more work is going to have to be done if we're to see measurable difference.

So long as the nonprofits remain creatures of the corrupt status quo and so long as that status quo sees Muni, Rec and Park and DPW as patronage sources that happen to sometimes supply public services and defends that status quo vigorously, nothing is going to change.

$1.6m for free Muni is nice, but at that rate, it is going to take generations to see incremental change.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

the city's archaic school bussing program because, absent that, most SF kids could simply walk to work. It's an irrelevancy.

I like the Central Subway investment which shows that even an organization as hopelessly flawed as Muni is can at leasts till think big. But for all the glamor of that., Muni remains unusable for a significant number of SF'ers who find buses too slow, uncomfortable, crowded, filthy and dangerous to use.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

Just as many small businesses pay taxes despite not making profits, there are large businesses making profits not paying taxes. Among the city's largest employers, for example, UCSF (2nd,) Sutter-CPMC (4th) and Kaiser (9th) annually make profits but pay NO taxes. Assessing tax-exempt enterprises for a fraction of the costs they and their, especially non-resident, employees otherwise incur for the city, its taxpaying businesses and residents just makes sense. A TIDF is one step in the right direction.

Posted by lurker on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

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