Namely, will the folks who don't want to pay for what they're now getting for free have more sway than those who see extended meter hours as smart parking policy, the route to less stressful city driving, and a big revenue generator for San Francisco? Mayor Gavin Newsom has already planted his flag in the former camp -- and he's the guy who appointed all the MTA board members who will eventually give this plan the thumbs-up or thumbs down. Make of that what you will.
In any event, MTA Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose presented the extended meter plan as the right policy, and something her office would push regardless of the resultant cavalcade of revenue for the cash-starved agency (hey, that's what she said). In a nutshell, rather than arbitrarily jack up the hours on each and every meter - which is what city officials did across the Bay in Oakland, with disastrous results - MTA's proposals on which meters' hours should be extended are based on two things: How crowded is the area and how late are the local businesses open? The city's current 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday policy is based on a business model harking from the days when Harriet Nelson might drive down to the Raley's to pick up ingredients for a casserole. Regardless of one's feelings about casserole, much has changed since that era.
Businesses in various parts of the city are open to varying hours, continued Bose. And a number of other major cities have responded more rapidly than San Francisco and augmented their meter enforcement hours. With the ultimate goal being to induce parking turnover, MTA produced the aforementioned multi-hued map. While the graphic will soon be available on the Internet, in the meantime, here's a rough description of the preliminary proposals.
Here's the map:Extended Hours Map 10-13-09.pdf
If this sounds complicated - it is. MTA CEO Nat Ford stressed that implementation of this plan - if ever - is a ways off. The only certainty on his timeline is that it will be presented to the MTA Board on Oct. 20 and feedback is sought from the city's elected officials, business community, and everyone else. In short, much outreach will be made before meter hours begin to be dabbled with.
For those bewildered by the notion of paying more for the privilege of parking one's auto, here are MTA's selling points: With more turnover, they figure parking will be more plentiful - a potential boon for businesses. With fewer people double-parking and driving repeatedly around the block, driving should be safer and more efficient. This was done in other cites and the world did not end.