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CA Guv Hopeful: Let’s Not Extend Parking Meter Hours in a Recession

12:10 PM EDT on October 2, 2009

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has snagged some high-profile support for his nascent California gubernatorial bid, but he may have some trouble with the transit-riding, congestion-weary constituency. My colleagues Matthew Roth and Bryan Goebel have the story over at Streetsblog San Fran:

gavin_newsom_thumbs_up.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (Photo: Gawker)

Mayor Gavin Newsom has been quietly pressuring MTA Chief Nat Ford todelay or prevent proposals to extend parking meter hours on weeknightsand Sundays, despite a looming mid-year MTA budget deficit and studiesthat show it's good policy, Streetsblog has learned. ...

"The Mayor thinks it's the wrong time to make these moves," said NathanBallard, Newsom's communications director. "Right now, with the economywhere it is, the burden on ordinary people for city services is alreadystretched to the max, and so he hasn't seen anything that convinces himotherwise. He's open to arguments, but he's still where he was."

The "we can't change policy in a bad economy" argument is familiar to Capitol Hill transportation watchers, who saw the Obama administration use the recession to rule out a gas tax hike or per-mile vehicle fee earlier this year.

But in Newsom's case, as Matt and Bryan point out, San Francisco is lagging behind its fellow major cities when it comes to charging for parking. In Los Angeles, where voters will soon be looking at Newsom's credentials, meters remain on until 2 a.m. New York City keeps meters on until midnight, and Washington D.C.'s stay on until 10 p.m.

And with the city transit authority facing possible fare hikes or service cuts in the wake of a budget deficit, it's tough to see how not extending parking meter hours doesn't hit non-car-owning voters where it hurts.

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