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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Meter Is Running: Municipal Transportation Agency Outlines Plan to Extend Parking Meter Hours -- Which Could Raise $9M for City

Posted By on Tue, Oct 13, 2009 at 12:59 PM

click to enlarge dog_and_parking_meter.jpg
Earlier today, the Municipal Transportation Agency unveiled the results of a study regarding its tentative plan to extend parking meter hours to weekday evenings and on Sunday. There's no shortage of details -- reporters were even handed a city map with "pink" and "teal" parking zones -- but whether this plan moves forward or goes down like a wooden nickel depends largely on just one thing.

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.

  • Enforcement until 11 p.m.: The Port of San Francisco-operated meters along the Embarcadero will continue to be monitored at this hours, as they already are.
  • 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: A cluster of parking meters along Third Street in Bayview would now be enforced on Sundays. Incidentally, Sunday enforcement across the board would begin at 11 a.m. to "give people a chance to sleep in," said Bose. Also, two-hour parking meters would extend to four-hour meters after 6 p.m. on weekdays and all day Sunday.
  • 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday: These extended hours reflect nightlife in the following areas: Portions of the Western Financial District and North Beach extending from Market between Kearney and the Embarcadero; portions of the Inner and Outer Richmond, near U.C. San Francisco and along the commercial district of Irving street in the Inner Sunset, and other stretches along Noriega, Taraval, Ocean Avenue, Holloway, The Outer Mission and Excelsior and Leland Street in Visitacion Valley.
  • 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: Large portions of SoMa, Large portion of the Financial District, smatterings of the Marina, Geary corridor past Van Ness, along the Fillmore, Along Divisadero, Along Geary and Clement in the Outer Richmond, portions of the Outer Mission along 24th Street and Cortland, San Bruno between Silver and Mansell, and along the Ninth and Irving area.
  • 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: All along the Inner Mission; along Upper Market and portions of the Castro, Between Van Ness and Montgomery on the Geary corridor, throughout Chinatown and in much of North Beach. Basically, these are the places where you feel truly blessed to have found a parking spot; MTA hopes increased turnover will make finding a spot there less of a feat.

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.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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