Pay to park

Are residents angry at bureaucratic bungling — or just with the loss of free street parking?


The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has hailed the success of its SFpark program — which uses high-tech meters and demand-variable pricing to manage on-street parking — noting that expired meter citations are down and meter revenue is up. The resulting 11 percent net increase in revenue  is all going to improve Muni. So transit improves, drivers get more spots and fewer tickets — everybody wins.

[CLARIFICATION (2/1): The new meters had an 11 percent net revenue increase compared to the old meters, but overall net revenues from citations and meters was still down by 3 percent.]

But the SFMTA has run into a hornet's nest of opposition with its latest proposal to expand SFpark into the Northeast Mission District, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, and Mission Bay, largely because the plan involves placing meters on streets where parking is now free. And even those who don't object to paying for parking say the SFMTA has bungled this process.

The problem isn't just what critics say are arrogance and dubious outreach efforts by agency officials. It may be that the SFMTA pursued too many goals at once, mixing them in ways that muddled the message. Or it may just be that charging for parking will always anger drivers, no matter how it's proposed.

The agency wants to discourage driving — particularly cruising for parking, hence SFpark's "Circle Less, Live More" slogan — to speed up Muni and reduce traffic congestion. But that also means charging for street parking so cars won't just sit in those spaces, and that involves a complicated balancing act in mixed use neighborhoods.

Residents, many employers, and commuters want all-day street parking, preferably free and easy. But most business owners want enough parking turnover so their customers can find a spot. City policies call for prioritizing residents' needs, and the SFMTA needs money to fund and expand Muni service.

Meeting all of those needs isn't easy. But over the last couple of months, the SFMTA's effort to expand its successful and popular SFpark program have managed to turn thousands of residents angrily against that program, the agency, and the proposition that people shouldn't expect free parking.



Architect John Lum and artist-designer Miranda Caroligne didn't know each other a couple months ago, but now they're helping to lead a movement that is uniting neighborhood groups in the Mission, Dogpatch, and Potrero Hill against the parking meter proposals.

"You have an agency that is not listening at all to the community. That's fascism!" declares Lum. He's actually an amiable and soft-spoken young guy who employs 10 people at his architecture firm near 17th and Capp streets, but this issue really gets his blood boiling.

And Lum isn't alone, as the Jan. 13 public meeting before an SFMTA hearing officer showed. Not only did everyone who streamed to the microphone voice opposition to the proposals, but they usually did so in angry and accusatory ways, saying it would destroy businesses, punish the poor, and result in conditions that are simply unworkable and intolerable. And they said the SFMTA simply doesn't care.

"If you're a PDR business," Caroligne said, referring to the Production, Distribution, and Repair businesses whose last bastion is some of the targeted areas, "you're never going to get people to work at a place that doesn't have parking...This proposal will push them out."


You raise a good point, and it does appear that SFMTA was cherry-picking data. Here's what I relied on for what I wrote:
The figures I quoted compared the old meters and the new, but the data you cite is also correct. I will add a correction to my lead noting that the percentage referred to the difference between old and new meters. But it is also true that revenue from citations has been falling for awhile and the new meters have began to offset that trend.

Posted by steven on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

A very important consideration: If residential areas get parking meters, then residents without driveways or garages will be forced to drive to work to avoid parking tickets.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 03, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

All bungling aside, nobody is really paying attention to the fact that people actually LIVE in these neighborhoods, and that they don't have garages, or endless quarters, or people they can hire to move their cars every hour while they work. If the meters charged $2.00 per hour, 9:00am to 6:00pm, they would be paying nearly $110 per week, moving their vehicles every hour, or being forced to park in farther neighborhoods such as mine (26th and Folsom) where I already spend up to an hour searching for parking, and sometimes have to park five to fix blocks from home, which forces me to walk through a housing project in the middle of the night in front of which I have already been robbed TWICE.

This whole thing is just ridiculous. Are they trying to make it impossible to live here? I understand they the city needs money, but they can't keep taking it from places that impact us so negatively. I mean, Mark Zuckerburg is only paying something like $2 million in taxes, when he should be paying $6 billion. I make $13 dollars per hour working 35 hours per week.

Screw this I'm moving to LA. At least you're allowed to have a decent, uninhibited life there if you're not RICH.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 11:14 am

Hey, is anyone here experienced in writing petition letters? If you are, I would like to suggest that you start (or help me start) a petition on The organization has been very effective in the past, most notably in helping to get BofA to drop their proposed $5/month banking fee a months ago.

Posted by on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

Obviously I'm referring to a petition that would stop meters from going in...

Posted by on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

The tyranny of private automobile ownership is coming to an end. Deal with it.

Posted by guest on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

So it works out for everyone.

Your sense of entitlement to live in your created Utopia, and other people get to finance it. A win win for all.

Everyone should aspire to live to the standards those that decide whats best for us. It is confusing to know who knows best? Please explain why your entitlement is superior to all others.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

Therefore we're ALL entitled to enjoy the fruits of other people paying for their use. Just like we're entitled to the enjoyment of the fruits of the use of our airspace, airwaves and other public spaces as well.

Everyone doesn't have to "aspire to live to the standards set for us." Everyone has NO CHOICE, when they're utilizing the public space, to adhere to those standards. And if they chose not to adhere to those standards - then there will be consequences.

Posted by guest on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

Don't you deep thinking stoner's listen to Red Barchetta anymore?

The use of public space by unpopular users is bad, the use of public space by popular users is an entitlement.

Time to fence off all parks, sidewalks, parklets, plaza's, intersections, and anywhere else where the citizens may congregate, and then impose some sort of fee. Human being and all their antics are a blight.

It's interesting how establishment and authoritarian the third generation of 60's hippies have become. If the population is too stupid to obey the dictates of those who decree what is a matter of "NO CHOICE," the population need to be coerced into it for their own good.

The new left really is happy face fascism, bonged out authoritarianism.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

Sign the petition to our city leaders to stop this ill conceived plan

Posted by Guest on Feb. 14, 2012 @ 2:32 am

Charging for parking in a public space will always be met with disagreements and opposition. No one likes to pay more, especially on a space that they have been parking for free for a long time. To rub salt to the wound, the SFMTA goes around proclaiming its success in increasing their own revenue. How can you expect residents to be happy about that?

Posted by Melanie on Apr. 08, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

I am totally agreed with all the facts given in this post. The most amazing fact that I like the most in this post is the use of high-tech meters and demand-variable pricing to manage on-street parking. Also, I think that residents would angry if they have to pay the parking fee to park their cars.

Posted by cheap tires on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 3:16 am