Court upholds San Bruno airport parking taxBy Staff writer
A business license tax imposed by the city of San Bruno on airport parking lots was upheld by a state appeals court Friday.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the tax passed by city voters in 1999 does not interfere with the right to travel or with interstate commerce.
The tax amounts to 8 percent of business receipts. It was challenged by Airport Parking Services Inc., also known as SkyPark, which operates a San Bruno parking facility for travelers using nearby San Francisco International Airport.
SkyPark contended the tax penalized the exercise of the right to travel because it was aimed specifically at air travelers.
But the appeals court noted that some air travelers use other transportation means, such rides from friends, buses, taxis or parking lots outside of San Bruno. In addition, the SkyPark lot is used by some people who are not air travelers, the court said.
"Thus, the tax is not imposed on all travelers and has minimal impact on federal citizens' interstate travel," wrote Justice James Lambden wrote.
The court also said there is a rational basis for the tax: to help pay for increased traffic, road maintenance and police and fire services associated with private airport parking facilities.
The panel upheld a similar ruling issued by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp in 2001.
The tax was instituted after the San Bruno City Council directed city staff in 1999 to evaluate options for increasing revenue because it was growing more slowly than expenses.
A city-sponsored study reported that unlike a number of California cities that had airports nearby or within city limits, San Bruno had no license tax on airport facilities.
The City Council then submitted the tax measure to the voters, who approved it in November 1999. The tax went into effect in 2000.
Copyright ©2003 San Mateo County Times. Published 05/24/2003.