Driving us crazy

Street Fight: Are some progressives screwed-up on parking?


STREET FIGHT Parking reform is one of the most radically important elements of making San Francisco a more livable and equitable city.

In this geographically constrained city, parking consumes millions of square feet of space that could be used for housing, especially affordable housing in secondary units. Curbside parking in the public right of way impedes plans to make Muni more reliable for hundreds of thousands of transit riders. Parking in new housing and commercial developments generates more car trips on our already congested and polluted streets, slowing Muni further while bullying bicyclists and menacing pedestrians.

Fundamentally, parking is a privatization of the commons, whereby driveway curb cuts and on-street parking hog the public right-of-way in the name of private car storage. The greater public good — such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing public safety through bike lanes, wider sidewalks, public green spaces, and transit-first policies — is subsumed to narrow private interests. These are among the many reasons why, for over a decade, parking reform has been a key part of progressive transportation policy.

Yet lately, it has been disappointing to watch progressives, especially on the Board of Supervisors, retreat from that stance. In Potrero Hill and North Mission, a vitriolic reaction has slowed rollout of nationally acclaimed SF Park, which raises revenue for Muni and is a proven sustainable transportation tool. Yet there are murmurings that some progressive supervisors might seek an intervention and placate motorists who believe the public right-of-way is theirs.

On Polk Street, some loud merchants and residents went ballistic when the city and bicycle advocates proposed removing curbside parking to accommodate bicycles. The city, weary of Tea Party-like mobs, ran the other way, tail-between-legs. Progressive supervisors seem to have gone along with the cave-in.

Along Geary, planning for a desperately needed bus rapid transit project drags on. And on. And on. And on. The lollygagging includes bending over backward to placate some drivers who might be slightly inconvenienced by improvements for 50,000 daily bus riders.

One thing that is remarkably disturbing about this backpedaling is that, in an ostensibly progressive city by many measures (civil rights, tolerance, environmentalism), the counterattack is steeped in conservative ideology. That is, conservatives believe that government should require ample and cheap parking, whether in new housing or on the street. This conservative ideology, shared by many car drivers and merchants — and even by some self-professed progressives — is steeped in the idea people still need cars. This despite the evidence that cars are extremely destructive to our environment, socially inequitable, and only seem essential because of poor planning decisions, not human nature.

Progressive backpedaling has become more confusing with the recent debate over 8 Washington, defeated at the polls Nov. 5, and on the same day of a convoluted Board of Supervisors hearing on a proposed car-free housing development at 1050 Valencia. Both of these projects highlight the muddled inconsistency emerging among progressive supervisors.


"Nothing in San Francisco can change one bit because that might inconvenience me or block my views or cause a shadow to fall near me. I am entitled to San Francisco and no one else can have it."

This, in a nutshell, is the "Progressive" argument here. And it stinks.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:43 am

If public policy changed arbitrarily and raised your cost structure by 15% you'd be screaming bloody murder. Corporations scream bloody murder that public policy must change so that their cost structure decreases by 15% and are catered to. That is the definition of a neoliberal regime.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:38 pm


All sorts of transportation related expenses have been rising over the last few years from BART and MUNI fares to bridge tolls. Why should on street parking (which is using public right of way to store your private property) be any different?

Posted by gneiss on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

My Fast Pass gets more expensive all the time. I remember when it cost $11, I bet you don't.

I have never complained a bit when prices went up. If I couldn't afford it, I just bicycled or walked everywhere instead.

You car drivers are one entitled whiny bunch.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

frozen in time, just because you say so?

Americans are very adaptable and flexible, often moving many times to further themselves. I see no problem with mobility and advancement.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:49 am

There is already Muni and Paratransit for the Senior and Disabled community. But if you need more Blue parking spaces, I am 100% with you. What percentage of The Cities parking spaces should be painted blue? 10%? 20%? 100%?

I support you in whatever is needed.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

That's nearly 1 out of 10 in this city - we do not need more disabled spots we need greater enforcement of laws governing fraudulent use of these passes.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

The MTA can't or won't police placard abuse, so in order to stop placard abuse, they're going to have placards provide access to the space but charge the disabled for the privilege.

Disabled parking permits and service animals are two of the entitlements for the disadvantaged most abused by the able bodied. Punishing the legitimately disabled for the abuse of others is truly despicable.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

I would think that more than 1 in 10 people have mobility issues.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:27 pm

The number of disabled parking passes in San Francisco FAR exceeds the percentage of disabled passes in other municipalities. The disabled community is up-in-arms about this too because REAL disabled people are finding it impossible to park when they need to park. This is an indefensible issue Greg - you make yourself look like a bigger asshole than normal by squeaking about the right of able-bodied people to use disabled parking permits.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

So mobility issues do not count as disabled? Add disabled people to the long list of people you detest- Blacks, Gays, Asians, and the poor. People with mobility issues will be surprised to discover that they're not "REAL" disabled people. Fortunately, the state of California doesn't go by the definitions of Lucretia.

Per California DMV rules:
"In order for you to be eligible for a DP placard or plate, your doctor must certify that you have one of the following conditions:
Heart or circulatory disease
Lung disease
***A diagnosed disease that significantly limits your movement ability***
Specific visual problems"

Are you trying to tell me that 1 in 10 people don't have one of these conditions?

Heart disease alone would probably account for 1 in 10. I think a lot of people who *are* qualified don't take advantage of it.

What we need is not more restrictions, but more disabled parking spaces and more education to let more people know that they can qualify. Of course the city will never do that. Ed Lee needs to generate more revenue.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:15 am

Isn't this the same person [Lucretia], who was cheerleading for an elderly couple and their disabled daughter to get kicked out on the curb a couple weeks ago? She probably thinks people with heart problems and mobility issues are all faking it. She's probably thinking "screw you and your mobility issues! Get off your lazy butt and walk!"

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:35 am

I don't know what your definition is of "mobility issues" but a disease is quite different. Ridiculous argument over semantics.

Greg - why do you hate Asians so badly again? Please school me on the "yellow peril."

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:33 am

A transit policy that favors young, fit, healthy cyclists over old, sick people who need buses and cars isn't one that I would be willing to support.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:02 am

Why are you constantly hating on the young? They haven't done anything to create these car-centric mess we are in.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:38 am

SF is a fairly well off, young white male professional.

The people driving often live further out, where there is less transit and cycling isn't practical. They are typically poorer.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:47 am

Spandex in Aspen.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:07 am

You are an affluent professional white male IT worker who helped to gentrify the Mission and displace Hispanics by buying a condo there.

You ride a bike and the Hispanic guy you displaced probably drives a pickup truck to his construction job.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:20 am

The only Latinos who have lived in this house to my knowledge were half of the flippers, attorneys who invested in the top unit of our home along with the gay white male attorney who flipped our unit from ownership to condo.

The previous owner was an elderly white woman who sold out and moved to a retirement home and who, for all we know, was a member of the family the original owner of the unit. I believe she was born in 1898 and died at > 100 in LA.

I rarely wear spandex to bicycle, just jeans, maybe shorts, t-shirt and hoodie. And I've never been to Aspen.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:07 am

If you hadn't bought the condo, it could have been rented out to poor people. Shame on you!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:32 am

No, it was condo converted so rent control will never apply.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:49 am

You could have rented it out at a low price to the needy! For shame!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:27 am

I'm not that kind of "the most vulnerable" are "the most important" progressive, sorry to burst your bubble.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:33 am

even though you are an affluent white male IT worker with a condo.

You seem desperate to convinced us that you are somehow "oppressed" and therefore "deserve" somehow to live in SF.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:51 am


Every white male IT workers who buys a home in the mission is contributing to the gentrification of the Mission, which in turn makes less flats available for affordable housing and drives up rents in general.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:43 am

Does that somehow make speculation of property in a minority neighborhood acceptable?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 11:52 am

We got evicted and got a chunk of public dollars for housing relocation. We don't need no stinking right to live here.

And I'm not going to stand for being treated as a second class road used under threat of violence.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

Again, why mention that the flipper that you bought your condo from is gay? Exactly why does that make any difference?

Do you think that somehow makes flipping, speculating and gentrifying OK. As long as it's a gay guy doing it?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

Hasbeens in Spaztex

Posted by pete moss on Nov. 16, 2013 @ 5:29 pm


You should apologize to the family of Mr. Lai for your insensitivity.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

I think sustainability will come, too little, too late, since cultural shift from automobile dependence will be a gradual, and not an immediate relinquishment. All I imagine that can be done, immediately, is to erect parking meters where every conceivable parking opportunity exists and aggressively pursue scofflaws.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:14 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

when people don't agree with you, they need to be coerced because you know best.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

I'd imagine that the MTA and State and probably have standards for urban disabled parking accommodation density.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

new parking meters in the Mission.

So yeah, looks like progressives are in-fighting again. Tell me something I don't know.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

Parking spaces along with sidewalks and parks ARE the commons in an urban environment.

Anyone can set up a spontaneous parklet in an unmetered parking space whenever they want to and do whatever they want to.

Putting toll booths on the commons is the neoliberal response to the undisciplined and unruly.

Since when did progressives start supporting market-based solutions to allocating scarce resources?

When removing parking is done to cater to neoliberal developers who foisted the bogus TOD on us, it doubles the neoliberal discipline.

The first thing that curbside parking should be removed for is transit such as on Potrero, Van Ness and Geary BRT.

The North Mission is an established residential neighborhood with some mixed used character that should be treated the same as existing San Francisco residential neighborhoods as far as parking policy goes with consideration for mixed use.

When there is no rapid and reliable transit on the horizon, you can't expect for people to take a hit in anticipation of transit that is not even on the drawing board yet.

We are not the blue sky for Gabriel Metcalfe's wet dreams.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

@marcos - I don't see where you get "market-based solutions" from meters. Even with cost hikes that get wingnuts screaming about Agenda 21 and Order #5176, the pricing is a massive subsidy that doesn't come anywhere near the market value of the parking, and of course the things that are parking are propped up by oil and road subsidies. There's no market involved in any step of this.

Posted by Jym Dyer on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

Check transit farebox recovery rates - typically only 50% or so.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

What is the farebox recovery rate on a freeway?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

that is due to taxes, fees, licenses, registrations, government-mandated insurance and a massive tax on gas.

We subsidize your ass big-time.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:19 am

My heart bleeds for you. But gasoline taxes don't even come close to paying for the cost of the freeways, not to mention all the other ways automobiles are subsidized. Automobiles are heavily subsidized out of the general fund, which everyone pays into.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:48 am

Now you appear to admit that they are but think they should be even more expensive so we can shovel more cash at the overpaid public sector workers who don't fix our streets?

Good luck with that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:06 am

I never said cars are cheap. I have said that cars are mostly driven by the wealthy elite, especially in San Francisco.

Yes, cars should cost more to operate, they are too heavily subsidized by the taxpayer, to the detriment of everyone.

Carbon taxes are coming soon, so I will get my way before you do.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:33 am

ridiculous tot ry and claim that they are only for the rich.

In fact, a poor person living in Pacifica has far more need of a car than a rich person living in Telegraph Hill, and is more likely to drive further.

Roads may be subsidized, and for good societal reasons. Cars are not.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 8:44 am

How is the subsidization of a road not equivalent to the subsidization of cars? Unless we are going to start doing all-terrain stuff, a car requires a road to operate. That requirement is for multiple 12 foot wide lanes.

And if a rich person living in Telegraph Hill is in less need of a car than someone in Pacifica, all the more justification for turning over the commons currently used for parking in San Francisco to things like wider sidewalks, transit lanes, bike lanes, etc...

And consider - perhaps the poor person living in Pacifica (I've been to Pacifica and I'm not sure I agree with this characterization) would prefer to live in San Francisco. But he isn't enabled to make this decision. The choice is - do you want to live in Pacifica, own a car, and be able to park for nothing in San Francisco, or should we be converting hundreds of thousands of parking spaces in San Francisco and acres of roadway into housing so you don't have to have a car and can live in San Francisco. That choice was made by the government - have a nice drive sir.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:02 am

They are used for public transit, cabs, emergency vehicles, trucks and so on.

In fact, the interstate system was built mostly for the rapid and efficient movement of goods and materials, given that trains couldn't do that except in limited ways.

The problem was that populations then moved to those freeways and that led to commuting by car and congestion.

Nonetheless, you cannot levy the entire cost of roads onto just one segment of road user. That is disingenuous.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 9:13 am

I find it interesting that you are defending parking spaces in the North Mission by referring to public transit, cabs, emergency vehicles, and the interstate system.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:51 am

I wasn't talking about parking meters in the Mission - that was Marcos. However, I agree with him that they are an assault on working class people who bought or rented homes there in the belief that they could park affordably near their homes, and should not have that taken away from them without compensation.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

Compensation in the form of a rapid, reliable and regional transit system.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

compensation. While street parking is technically not deeded to a home, it is most certainly a factor in buying or renting a home. So if the city takes awat street parking, either altogether or by metering it, I'd like to see some financial compensation to the residents who are affected.

This "just take out the parking" refrain that the morons over at streetsblog think will cure cancer and lead to world peace has to be slapped down.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

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