Supervisor's Report

Beware of parking meters in our residential neighborhoods

Meters aren’t for commercial districts only anymore Photo: Panchenks / flickr

Everyone in San Francisco is keenly aware of our city’s parking meters and the inherent need to constantly feed them or suffer the fate of sky-high tickets courtesy of our Department of Parking and Traffic.

Most of us also expect parking meters in common-sense locations, such as merchant corridors, major thoroughfares, and at our most visited destinations citywide. I, along with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), agree that parking meters in these locations serve to help our small business community, fund a portion of SFMTA’s budget, and move further toward establishing San Francisco as a transit-first city. However, the SFMTA is currently moving forward proposed plans to expand parking meters into our neighborhoods and residential areas – it is already in the process with five neighborhoods in the southeast sector of San Francisco, including SOMA, Mission Bay, and Potrero Hill.

On top of their now established Sunday parking meter plan, which I continue to fight against in City Hall, these actions are starting to seriously impact the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

I recently met with many of our District 2 leaders, including the presidents of each of our neighborhood organizations, and among their top concerns were rumors about parking meters potentially moving into our neighborhoods. Areas that were discussed included residential areas surrounding the world-famous “crooked” portion of Lombard Street, Union, Chestnut, Sacramento, the Marina, and even portions of Presidio and Laurel Heights.

As early as February 2012, the SFMTA was nearly ready to implement its parking meter expansion program beginning in San Francisco’s southeastern neighborhoods. However, due to public outcry, the SFMTA agreed to delay the proposed plans in order to gather additional data and more input from the affected neighborhoods. In November 2012, the SFMTA provided an update to its “Neighborhood Parking Planning” schedule, and community outreach to the northeast Mission is currently underway, with outreach to Potrero Hill in March 2013, Dogpatch in spring 2013, and western SOMA in spring/summer 2013.

I strongly oppose the expansion of parking meters into our neighborhoods, and even though the initial proposed neighborhoods are not in District 2, I feel it is critical in my role as supervisor to be on the forefront of decisions that could ultimately affect our district before the potential problems begin to occur.

Therefore, on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, at the Board of Supervisors meeting, I introduced a hearing request to demand the SFMTA clearly articulate its parking meter expansion plans and programs into San Francisco’s neighborhoods. The neighborhoods in the southeast currently affected were outraged at the limited notice and public input given by the SFMTA before being told about the incoming parking meters, and I don’t want us to get caught by surprise in District 2. Specifically, I asked SFMTA to provide the policy rationale behind its decisions, statistics driving the parking meter expansion, the revenues the SFMTA anticipates from these new meters, and a specific update on future SFMTA plans and projects that include parking meter expansions into our neighborhoods. I believe that the policy discussion regarding SFMTA’s proposed parking meter expansion plans should start here in City Hall, and that this hearing will build and improve upon the public dialogue about SFMTA’s proposed plans.

I fully understand that SFMTA’s parking policies are designed to encourage travel by public transit and sustainable modes of transportation, and I support the majority of them. I further understand that SFMTA’s management of the City’s parking situation is done in good faith and has intentions of doing what is best for the transit priorities of our city. However, I have always believed that a “transit first” policy should not also punish those of us who drive. Even situations and plans handled in good faith often can have unintended consequences, and in this instance I fear that SFMTA’s plans may have negative consequences for our neighborhoods and residents across San Francisco.

In my May 2012 Marina Times column, I expressed sentiments that the SFMTA should reconsider its plans to increase revenue through Sunday parking on the backs of residents until it can get its own overtime costs and financial house in order. Those sentiments still hold true. City residents should not be asked to bolster SFMTA’s expenses by feeding parking meters in residential areas. Sunday parking meters are already a bad idea – let’s not follow suit with potentially one more.

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Supervisor Mark E. Farrell is the District 2 supervisor and can be reached at 415-554-7752 or [email protected].