I note that the county has commissioned an environmental review for a proposed new hotel on the grounds of the San Francisco International Airport. I suppose a poke in the eye of those of us living in the northern reaches of San Mateo County will be the next act by this troublesome duo of agencies.
Since the hotel is proposed to be on county land, and the hotel will be owned by the airport, an agency of the city and county of San Francisco, the city governments of mid and northern San Mateo County can kiss away from $1 million to $2 million annually.
Hundreds of thousands of San Mateo County residents suffer daily from both arrival and departure noise from the steadily increasing number of flights to SFO. As part of that scenario is the similarly increasing number of private cars, buses, limos and shuttles that are a constant presence on Highway 101 and the feeder streets in our neighborhoods.
OK, most of us tacitly agreed to these conditions, as we moved to this area after the airport was already there. But we always had the offset to the constant bother with the knowledge that cities had the economic benefit of hotel taxes which translate to better local services, along with the many jobs attached to this segment.
A potential argument could possibly be made if the existing hotels which service the airport were running at or near 100 percent occupancy. That is not, nor has it been, the case in many years. And those occupancy rates will undoubtedly suffer disproportionately if, as planned, the airport’s AirTrain light rail system runs to this new facility.
The economic benefits from a new hotel will accrue to the airport, and the hotel taxes will go to the county, at the direct expense of our local communities. This is the county that has just had an added infusion of some $60 million annually as result of a still controversial sales tax increase passed countywide.
The net result is that the airport and by extension the city and county of San Francisco will derive profits at a loss to the existing hotels and the up to $2 million annually that went to local cities will also flow southward into county offices in Redwood City. While some of those funds may drift back to our area, this still stacks up to be a substantial net loss.
Gene Mullin is a former member of the California Assembly, the former mayor of South San Francisco and a former teacher.