We already told you about a proposed fee of up to $500 to be applied drivers at fault in accidents for the fire department to clean up their post-crash messes, and last Thursday, the Board of Supes Budget Committee gave that fee the thumbs up.

Next stop: the full board of Supes, to make its first vote on the proposal.

Opponents (many from the insurance industry, we should note) argue that since taxes already support the SFFD, this is a double-dipping of sorts.

Since the SFFD responds to over 4,000 accidents annually, levying a charge ranging between $249 and $498 or more could net the city $626,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.

The bill would most likely be sent to the at-fault driver's insurance company, although the driver may still have to pay out-of-pocket and insurance companies are already set to raise drivers' rates.

What do you think -- is this kicking a driver when they're down, or just consequences for vehicular error?

the author

Always in motion. April Siese writes about music, takes photos at shows, and even helps put them on behind the scenes as a stagehand. She's written everything from hard news to beauty features, as well as fiction and poetry. She most definitely likes pie.

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  • Xenu

    Wait… they don’t have to pay now? And yet the city charges for cleanup after events? WTF?!

  • fsharp

    I’m all for personal responsibility but I don’t see how administering and defending this program will cost less than the fees can possibly collect.

    How many of these 4k accidents a year are hit and run? How many involve drivers without insurance or any other means to pay? How many San Franciscans will sue the city? It just doesn’t add up. I just don’t believe city hall can do this cheap enough to make it work. Maybe at $1k per accident but not $250-$500.

  • Greg Dewar

    This is one of a series of examples showing the current board majority’s lack of experience or knowledge of municipal finance.

    Right now we’re in the grip of this mentality of “o hai! I see cigarrette butts on the ground! then let’s tax cigs more to pay for cleanup. o hai! Alcohol has been known to cause problems, let’s tax all drinks to pay for stuff..” and so on.

    This either indicates that the board has no faith in its own ability to raise general taxes or whatever and allocate the money to services needed, or that they just don’t understand that people already pay a lot of taxes for these basic functions of government. The idea that we have money and time for showboaty projects, while we have to borrow money to simply keep the streets intact and safe for all is another example of how no one (the Mayor or the Board) really understand municipal finance.

  • bloomsm

    Basically the city is turning to a pay to play model. What happens if you can’t afford to pay for these services? Does SFFD let you sit there on the road and bleed the next time you have an accident? (“Oh, sorry. You’re on our do-not-respond list. Here’s a bandaid.”).

    Greg is right. The City lacks the fiscal discipline to cut services. Instead, it chooses a catch-as-can series of fee increases (parking meters, citations, dog licenses). These are actually devastating for the poorest among us, as these fees are essentially flat taxes (i.e., everyone pays the same amount).

    We are basically dealing with the consequences of a feel-good Board that doesn’t have the cojones to tell people “we’re broke. some of you will now do without.” Instead, we nickel and dime people and call it “progressivism”.