Treasure Island tolls opposed by TI residents and businesses go to Board of Supervisors Tuesday

Lame duck Board of Supervisors to decide Treasure Island’s fate

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by Steve Zeltzer

Treasure Island residents should not be forced to bear the heavy financial burden of paying tolls in both directions, to leave and return to their homes. With a potential third toll for the Bay Bridge itself, this could end up costing as much as $13 per day per vehicle!

A proposal to start charging tolls to enter and leave Treasure Island will be considered by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, sitting as the Treasure Island Mobility Management Authority (TIMMA), on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Residents and businesses, who nearly unanimously oppose the plan they claim will price out low-income residents and choke off the businesses’ lifeline, have organized an ad hoc coalition and will attend the 11 a.m. hearing to make their concerns known. The meeting will be held in the Supervisors’ Chambers, Room 250, City Hall.

Many questions about the plan and the planning process remain:

  • The proposed tolls, currently scheduled to start in 2021, mostly tax current residents and businesses for transportation improvements they won’t see for 10 years or more, and does so in a way that ensures they won’t be around to see the benefits they’ve paid for.
  • The toll plan is a regressive tax that will be a burden for low-income and middle-income resident families, one that will price them off the island, gentrifying it and turning it into a wealthy, gated bedroom community.
  • TI residents feel the toll proposal discriminates against them and violates their equal rights as residents of San Francisco. TI is the only neighborhood that would have to pay to go to other neighborhoods in the City and the only one to be charged separately for their public transit options.
  • The tolls threaten to clear businesses off the island, especially destination ones like the restaurants and wineries. They will have a harder time attracting customers who are adverse to paying more tolls. Vendors, already reluctant to come to TI, will be further put off by tolls, and some have said they will not service TI businesses if they face tolls.

“The tolls are eviction by other means,” said Paris Hayes, a 15-year resident of Treasure Island. “The affordable housing being built is a great idea, but when you add the costs of tolls and parking, no low-income families will be able to stay here.”

“The tolls are eviction by other means,” said Paris Hayes, a 15-year resident of Treasure Island.

Business owners echo these fears and foresee a similar demise. The City and the developers didn’t make a real effort to reach out to businesses until the beginning of November. At the called meetings Nov. 2 and 5, a schedule was presented with a final vote about tolls to be held Dec. 11. The business owners’ response was to immediately and unanimously oppose the proposal as an existential threat.

When the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) board held one of its few on-island meetings Nov. 14, it faced its largest turnout ever. Every one of the residents and business people who spoke at the hearing voiced complete opposition to the tolls, so much so that the president of the TIDA board noted that her staff and TIMMA should address our concerns before moving forward.

TIDA Director Bob Beck said he would draft a memo with the City Attorney’s Office about the possibility of alternative funding sources. We have not heard anything on those issues since then, and yet the proposal is now up for a final vote.

At the TIMMA board’s last meeting Nov. 27, even Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the island, questioned why the plan was moving ahead considering its many uncertainties, ill-defined assumptions and lack of community input.

So the residents and businesses will be asking the Supervisors to postpone the vote on tolls until next year so these matters can be resolved. They will also present a petition opposing the toll proposal signed by more than 1,000 San Francisco residents.

“Given all the project’s missed deadlines, and how many warnings of further delays are coming out, we can’t see why this has to be decided right now,” said Jim Mirowski, owner of Treasure Island Wines. One of the oldest businesses on the island, it was established in 2007.

“Given all the project’s missed deadlines, and how many warnings of further delays are coming out, we can’t see why this has to be decided right now,” said Jim Mirowski, owner of Treasure Island Wines.

“Whose interests does it serve to have a board with so many lame ducks rushing to this decision when the newly elected Supervisors, who will be around to be accountable for its consequences, get sworn in in three weeks. Where are we, Wisconsin?”

Sign the petition supporting Treasure Island residents and businesses

The petition opposing the toll proposal, signed by more than 1,000 San Francisco residents, can be found at https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-vehicle-toll-for-TI-residents.

Steve Zeltzer and the Labor Video Project can be reached at lvpsf@igc.org. Listen to his WorkWeek Radio show every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. on KPFA.

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