What's wrong with taxing car owners?


It's almost as if we need a full-time blogger to monitor the backwards ideas coming from the Chron's C.W. Nevius. Today's case in point: Nevius thinks the idea of charging for Sunday parking is "the dumbest idea since the imitation crab meat cocktail." 

His brilliant investigative observation:

For all the talk about the fees on Sunday turning over parking spaces, you never read very far into one of these parking enforcement stories before you get to the bottom line — an estimated $2.8 million a year in this case if the Sunday-charge system was implemented citywide.

That's exactly right, Chuck: This is a way to bring in money for Muni. And I don't get what's wrong with that. People who drive cars (and I admit, I'm one of them) have an outsized impact on the city; they take up a huge amount of space (San Francisco devotes more urban land to streets than parks), they pollute the air, they increase the nation's reliance on fossil fuels and they contribute to global warming. And they don't pay anywhere near enough taxes and fees to mitigate the impacts of their behavior.

I'm all for higher gas taxes, for example; taxes should not just be a source of revenue but should, when possible, be targeted to discourage socially detrimental behavoir. And charging people a little money to drive their cars to Sunday brunch instead of walking or taking public transit isn't a terribly radical, unusual or disturbing idea. (In fact, we ought to charge the churches for the right to turn the streets into private parking lots on Sunday mornings).

Nevius complains that car drivers aren't bad:

But c'mon. These aren't evil people. They aren't trying to scam the city, pee on the street, or break car windows and steal backpacks. We could fine the aggressive panhandler and the petty break-in artists, but they don't have any money.

And I agree: They aren't bad. But the same way taxes on cigarettes both defray the social cost of tobacco use and discourage the dangerous and noxious habit, a modest little fee for parking your car helps pay for public transit and might just encourage a few people not to drive their cars. That's something everyone in the city should support.


That's the only day Nevius comes to SF -- it'd be totally unfair to charge him to park here!

Posted by Ryan on Apr. 27, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

As usual, you are great at attacking other's ideas, not so good at comming up with your own, oh wait!


I stand corrected (count them, 3 times)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 27, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

We should heavly tax newspapers for their contuined use of the natural resource of paper.

Now I know you will as a entity whole heartly support this idea :-)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 27, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

A lot of us don't WANT TO TAKE PUBLIC TRANSIT. Get it? Don't WANT to.

It's slow, dirty, dangerous, and the local "youth" are so colorful! I don't choose to spend 2 hours on MUNI to run a couple of errands. Nor do I care to sit around psychotics and people who smell.

Posted by GuestScott on Apr. 28, 2010 @ 8:52 am

This is a great example of the selfishness that is destroying our planet. Driving is the most environmentally destructive thing that average people do, but Scott thinks that his dislike of public transit is more important than than the immense harms caused by driving. While I agree that public transit could and should be a lot better, it never will be if drivers like Scott have their way, because it will never be properly funded.

Scott, consider this: Except for the small minority of people on Earth who drive (about 8%), no one WANTS to suffer from your driving: oil spills, destruction of natural lands and waters, noise, air pollution including global warming, etc. You have no right to cause so much harm to the planet and to others merely because you don't want to take public transit. There is no excuse for allowing private motor vehicles in urban areas. Support adequate funding for public transit and your complaints can be addressed.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on May. 02, 2010 @ 9:54 am

It's not just "dislike". Some of us work extremely hard to live in this expensive city and have little enough free time as it is, let alone spending two hours a day on Muni vs. 20 minutes a day driving.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2010 @ 10:19 am

Hyperbole much? If you can drive to a destination in 10 minutes, there is no way it will take an hour for the same trip using muni. The beach to caltrain is about 53 or 54 minutes on the 'N'- can you drive that in 10 minutes? No. You can't.

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2010 @ 11:38 am

I think we should increase taxes/fees on the newsracks in the City. They are a blight, are often in disrepair, often rusty and/or covered in grafitti, take up sidewalk space, and contribute to the trash on my street.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2010 @ 8:53 am

newspapers and news racks, when given the chance by Pete Wilson to pay their fair share in the early 90's the Guardian went into hysterics over it, that aspect of the tax law was repealed. These days the Guardian progressives try and point out that Wilson was a good republican for increasing taxes.

Posted by glen matlock on Apr. 28, 2010 @ 11:06 am

Really? Who decides what type of behavior is "socially detrimental?" The Guardian? Using that judgment we can soon expect Tim and Steven to advocate for a tax on donors to te Republican party.

When are bicycle owners going to agree to be taxed $10 a year for using the roads in this city? Is that really too much to ask considering they use the roads (and all too often - the sidewalks?)

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 28, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

I actually think the newsrack tax idea is a good one. On some intersections in my neighborhood, I have several newsracks for the same publication on just about every one of the 4 corners. This should apply to all publications: SF Weeky, SFBG, Chronicle, and all those annoying pedestals housing real estate publications.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

The City of SF needs to be encouraging consumption in our local commercial corridors. This means encouraging people from around the city to come and enjoy lunch in the Marina, for instance. Or shop on Union Street. Charging people for parking on Sunday is an additional tax that curbs consumption, and discourages individuals from coming into these neighborhoods. Not because they don't want to pay the $3.00 per hour to park, but because they don't want to risk receiving an absurdly over-priced parking ticket. The meter maids in these areas practice "predatory" ticketing to boost city revenues. Who wants to come to Rose's for lunch and return to a $63.00 ticket for being late on a meter? No one. Give the Sunday parkers a break- drivers are severely fleeced enough- let them have Sunday to spend their $63.00 at Jest Jewels and do the local businesses in these neighborhoods a favor.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

A study done when gasoline was $1/gallon showed that with all the true costs of driving factored in -- maintaining control over oil sources, including fighting oil wars, deaths and illnesses from pollution, cleaning up pollution, etc. -- gasoline should cost at least $15/gallon. So when people complain about paying minimal amounts for parking, well that's just petty BS. If driving were not so heavily subsidized, gas would be about $20/gallon now. So yeah, charging parking fees for Sunday is a good first step. But the ultimate goal should be complete elimination of private motor vehicles from San Francisco and all other urban areas, and one thing needed for that to happen is major funding for public transit in order to build an adequate system like that of New York city or cities in Europe, where you don't need a car to get to places in reasonable amounts of time. HINT: we need either a complete subway system or at least physically dedicated bus lanes where the traffic signals are gauged so that buses don't have to stop.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on May. 02, 2010 @ 10:17 am