SF Claims 49ers Behind $569,000 in Fees

To drive in San Francisco is to get nailed with a parking fee, and many Bay Area motorist has a ticket or two outstanding at any given time. Some might even have a hefty little sum in unpaid tickets going. But few have as hefty a sum as the San Francisco 49ers, whom City Hall says still owes a $569,041 tab in unpaid parking fees.

John Cote has been following the saga in the San Francisco Chronicle, as a San Francisco city audit concluded that the 49ers had underpaid them for parking fees at the city-owned stadium.

The 49ers charge fans directly for parking, either as part of season ticket holders' payments or as a cash payment for single-game ticket holders. Season ticket holders will pay the fee and, inevitably, not show up to use the spaces every single game. The 49ers can then sell off the unused season ticket holder parking spaces to single-game ticket holders who just showed up, thereby collecting a fee on that parking space twice.

The City and County of San Francisco, whom the Chronicle also reports today is hard up and desperate for cash anywhere they can find it, contends that this constitutes double-dipping. They say because of this practice, the 49ers have been undercharged for parking fees by that $569,041 sum named above.

"It's not a gift to the 49ers. They sold parking," deputy director of the Recreation and Park Department Rich Hillis told the Chronicle. "They don't refund the money; they keep it. Whether people show up or not, they have to pay the appropriate tax and the appropriate lease payment."

The City also contends that the 49ers overcharged them on Candlestick maintenance fees. The City is responsible keeping the plumbing and escalators at the 'Stick clean and functional, which they are terrible at doing. So the 49ers took matters into their own hands, making some repairs themselves and then billing San Francisco.  San Francisco now argues this money was spent in profligate fashion, because the jobs were not put out to competitive bids.

City and County of San Francisco, this is no way to talk the team out of bolting to Santa Clara.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who might also have a hefty little sum in unpaid parking tickets going.

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