Not only do they have to deal with The City’s high cost of living and its struggling public school system, families in San Francisco are now contending with another headache: finding parking for their child care providers.
Under The City’s residential parking program, locals can pay $98 a year for unlimited street parking in their neighborhood, while other motorists must move their car every two hours or risk a citation.
Designed to deter out-of-town commuters from swooping up all of the residential parking spots, the program has also forced full-time nannies to either move their car periodically or rack up hundreds of dollars in fines.
To address this, the Golden Gate Mothers Group, an organization of more than 4,000 San Francisco moms, wants the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to give nannies an exemption from the residential parking program’s rules.
Some workers, such as firefighters, teachers and health care providers, receive such exemptions and are eligible for the residential parking permits. Child care providers qualified in the past as health care workers, but the SFMTA recently and without explanation disallowed nannies from being eligible, said Roxanne Stachon, a Russian Hill resident and mother of two children under 3 years old.
Stachon, a member of the Golden Gate Mothers Group, said the new policy poses a safety issue for parents, since nannies are forced to leave the children alone every two hours while they look for parking.
Rhina Granados, who has worked for Stachon for three years, said she leaves the children unattended — in a safe place — for as long as 20 minutes at a time while she scrambles to find parking. She said it’s not unusual for her to rack up two to three tickets a week, at the cost of $55 each.
“I need my car, just in case of an emergency,” said Granados, who travels to The City every day from Vallejo. “It would be so much easier if I didn’t have to move it every two hours.”
Bond Yee, the SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets director, said giving nannies exemptions from the program might expose the agency to fraud, plus it could encourage increased traffic in the neighborhood while going against The City’s transit-first policy.
Stachon responded that the SFMTA could check on each nanny’s credentials by reviewing birth certificates or receiving confirmation notes from pediatricians. Each household can have up to four parking permits provided there are that many eligible drivers living there. One solution could be designating one of those four for the nanny, Stachon said.
Rebecca Speer, a Marina resident and mother of a 4-year-old child, said the high cost of living in San Francisco forces parents to rely on nannies.
“The reality is, to stay in The City, both parents must work, so we’re a very caregiver-dependent city,” Speer said.
The SFMTA’s Policy and Governance Committee heard the issue Tuesday. Upon hearing the women’s case, committee chair Cameron Beach said, “There is probably a solution out there.” The SFMTA’s board of directors will weigh in on the proposal next month.
Breaking down residential parking
27 Neighborhoods in The City with residential parking program
80,000 Residential parking permits
441,541 Total parking spaces (paid and unpaid) in San Francisco
$98 Cost to purchase a residential parking permit
4 Permits allowed for each household