Former S.F. Mayor Frank Jordan Blasts Plan To Extend Parking Meter Hours

Frank Jordan
Back in the mid-1990s, then-San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan proposed raising prices and enforcement hours on some downtown meters to increase turnover and make finding a spot less of an epic quest. He was met with a torrent of angry feedback from businesses, neighborhood groups, and the general public and backed off.

But if you're expecting Jordan to embrace the Municipal Transportation Agency's current proposal to extend meter hours into the evenings and on Sundays -- you thought wrong. Jordan unloaded on the plan with both barrels noting, "I'm personally surprised the public doesn't revolt over something like this."

Jordan, mayor from 1992 to '96, fought plenty of pitched battles with the MTA regarding what he saw as coddled union employees bleeding funds from the city. Rather than pull what he refers to as a clandestine tax on the general public via extended meter hours, Jordan says MTA should cut millions of dollars of fat out of its budget by ceasing wasteful labor practices.

The former mayor rattled off a litany of rules regarding driver absenteeism or overtime he'd like to see go the way of the dodo ("Oh, I could talk to you for hours about Muni."). The argument that transit riders are already paying more to receive less and now automobile drivers should "share the pain" is a false dichotomy, Jordan says.

"Of course it shouldn't always be [public transit] ridership who pays," he says. "If you pay more and get less, nobody is happy. But we know how unions don't like to give up anything. It has to be that the union gives up something, too."

MTA's current proposed measures won't be popular, predicts Jordan. Those who push for extended meter hours do so at their own political peril.

"I do not think anyone is going to go for parking meters until midnight," he says. "The public is hit hard enough now. And they should not be charged on Sundays for the same reason. There's gotta be some break. [You can't] always take things away from people without giving something back."

Finally, Jordan notes that, "in my day" you could put nickels and dimes into San Francisco meters. You can still do this, by the way. But a nickel only gets you 75 seconds -- just enough time to look for one more nickel.

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