(Editor's note: Chris Crow is a candidate for city council.)
The Mayor recently highlighted in his "State of the City" address that San Leandro will be facing a million dollar deficit in fiscal year 2012-13. There may be a way to raise the revenues to cover it and help cushion future cuts that will need to be made still.
Right now there is an off-airport parking facility whose premise straddles the San Leandro/Oakland border near the Oakland International Airport named Park’N’Fly. The facility pays an 18.5% parking tax on half of its lot but not on the other half because San Leandro does not have a parking tax ordinance.
Indeed, San Leandro wholly houses one of Oakland International Airport’s largest off-airport parking facilities, on Doolittle Ave., named Expresso Parking. This facility sits just outside the Oakland border and enjoys a significantly better 3-day parking rate than other businesses yards away from them. It also sits on one of the largest industrial parcels in San Leandro on that stretch of street near the Airport.
Expresso is operated by a large parking company corporation headquartered in New York with parking facilities all over the country, and on a lot of them, if not most of them, the company pays a parking tax or fee to the city.
It is estimated by my research that Expresso and Park’N’Fly bring in a combined $300,000 to $500,000 per month in untaxed revenue. An 18.5% parking tax/fee could generate $650,000 to $1,100,000 in new revenues for San Leandro annually.
The City of Oakland and other large cities employ a parking tax to encourage multi-modal transportation and to be compensated for the loss of potential property tax revenue and employment opportunities from an improved piece of property, say a hi-tech campus, or large manufacturing plant.
The parking tax in Oakland doesn’t account for a huge portion of their general fund, but it does help them pay for police and fire services and other services in town. I propose San Leandro can achieve a similar effect if it closed this loophole, and implemented a parking tax or fee.
Parking taxes and fees aren’t new and have been in large cities with a lot of commercial parking lots where it made more obvious sense. Recently though the idea has re-emerged in several cities around the Bay Area. Pleasant Hill is trying to enforce parking fees and San Jose is considering a parking tax to encourage multi-modal transportation to its proposed BART extension.
San Leandro has the unique situation where it provides benefit for airport parking facilities given our location, but collects no parking tax.
There could be future considerations of such a new policy, but it could bring some immediate relief to pending cut backs in city services.
The city could exempt any city owned garage with a new parking tax/fee or it could choose to charge an additional fee for the monthly company parking reserved stalls. This could minimize citizen impact or could offer additional revenue for a relatively low increase in cost compared to the rate.
In some cities hospitals charge a $1 or $2 for parking and that rate doesn’t increase if they are paying a tax/fee. They just pay the tax out of the revenue they receive. I only mention this because the new Kaiser may offer an additional revenue opportunity as well if they charge for parking at their facility.
Any future parking garage at the Marina, if they operated commercially and charged for parking would be another area for additional revenue.
BART of course also charges for parking, and will in the future if they build their new garage in San Leandro. In some cities they pay a tax and in others they don’t. As I mentioned though the city could write the ordinance to exempt certain types of parking facilities if it wished.
As a helpful effect the tax or fee itself may encourage more multi-modal transportation for San Leandro citizens, and closing this loophole would mostly effect people coming into San Leandro to park and go to the airport. This move would also be in line with the city’s General Plan idea of industrial sanctuary, discouraging any other possible parking facilities from using prime industrial real estate.
I frame this as a loophole closing because in fact there may be a way for the council to implement a fee on their own without a citywide vote because the specific nature of the opportunity and the fact it doesn’t effect a significant portion of the community.
Maybe they have to put it as a ballot measure? Some cities have administrative fees and others have taxes, so it really just depends.
A parking tax or fee makes sense for San Leandro and maximizes our advantage of having real estate near an international airport. If implemented soon enough the additional revenue could soften the blow of any coming deficit or fix it all together.
I have provided some maps above to that show the areas near the airport that I am discussing.
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