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No new parking lots for gas-guzzling Hummers

Peskin, labor leaders rally in opposition to Prop H,
support for Prop A

Board President Aaron Peskin led a rally yesterday outside a Gap store at Powell and Market Streets in opposition to Gap founder Don Fisher's Proposition H.
Photo(s) by John Han

By John Han

October 19, 2007

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the San Francisco Labor Council, labor groups, and global warming activists rallied outside of the Gap in downtown San Francisco Thursday to support Proposition A, a transit reform bill aimed at reducing San Francisco's carbon footprint.

The bill, authored by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by motor vehicles in San Francisco.

The groups also urged voters to oppose Proposition H - a parking bill that's backed by Gap founder billionaire Republican Don Fisher.

Don Fisher look-a-like Bert Hill drove a Hummer to the front of the Gap store at Powell and Market St. to illustrate a point against Prop H. "A Hummer would be able to park anywhere in the city very easily. It's considered to be a 'low-emissions vehicle' under this new law."

Critics of Prop H say that the sixty-one page initiative is filled with small print loopholes that would benefit business interests, but would do little to satisfy needs of the public transit system.

They allege Prop H provides unlimited parking for "low-emissions vehicles," but say "low-emission," as defined by the bill, includes Hummers, Escalades, and other gas-guzzling vehicles.

Proponents of Proposition A, on the other hand, say their plan would reduce global warming by supporting new hybrid and alternative fuel buses in San Francisco in an effort to reduce the city's air pollution.

It would increase Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) funding in the first year without having to raise fares or taxes.

Supporters add that $26 million dollars would be added to funds, allowing the MTA to keep 80 percent of already existing parking revenues.

One of the plan's goals would be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by motor vehicles in the city to 80 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2012.

Tom Radulovich, BART Director and Director of Livable City, said he supports Prop A. He said the plan contains"essential reforms to get Muni working." He said that more public transportation and less driving is better for San Franciscans.

"Muni is very dependant on city streets," Radulovich said. "If they're able to better prioritize transit over commuter traffic then Muni's able to run better. But if we have a lot more commuter traffic, Muni's just going to slow down and become less reliable."

Tom Radulovich (right), BART Director and Director of Livable City, with San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson.

Proposition H may do just that.

The San Francisco Planning Department has estimated Prop H could put as many as 20,000 new cars on the city's streets over the next twenty years. Some say that that would no doubt lead to increased traffic congestion, air pollution, and global warming.

Proponents of the measure, however, say more cars are expected in San Francisco despite the measure, and point toa lack of adequate street parking to justify the proposal to build more parking spaces.

City law currently says that San Francisco must allow developers to build one parking space for every four dwelling units. Prop H attempts to triple the allotment to "three spaces for every four dwelling units," the ordinance suggests.

Peskin criticized the measure. Peskin described Fisher as "someone who does not believe in global warming."

"I think he believes that everybody should be able to drive their Hummer to work," he said. "But the reality is if you want to have a great twenty-first century city, we have to have a world- class transportation system, and not clog our streets with cars."

SEIU Local 1021 members attended the rally.

"There's been some misconceptions also out there about the labor movement," said Tim Paulson, San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director.

"The San Francisco Labor Council, including SEIU, overwhelmingly endorsed a yes on A, and no on H."

The comments were made in reference to a recent editorial published in the San Francisco Chronicle last Sunday claiming the SEIU didn't endorse Prop A.

"This is a united community. This is a huge, real effort to reform Muni that all partners are in on," Paulson added.

Supporters of Prop A include Mayor Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the San Francisco LGBT Community.





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