Neighborhood’s role as parking lot over?

The Belle Air neighborhood, which has served as a makeshift parking lot and napping spot for drivers of limousines and shuttles bound for San Francisco International Airport, may finally be rid of the vehicles that have plagued the area for years.

The airport is expanding its current waiting site for limousines and airport shuttles to park free of charge, a project that is expected to be completed by the end of the month, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said. McCarron was unsure how much the project would cost or how many new vehicles would be accommodated in the expanded space.

This project comes on the heels of a plea from residents at last month’s San Francisco Airport Commission meeting, seeking commissioners’ help in freeing their neighborhood of limousines and shuttles.

Drivers have flocked to the Belle Air streets between chauffeuring assignments to avoid fees for operating on airport property. Residents have said drivers favor parking in the eastern San Bruno neighborhood, which abuts southbound U.S. Highway 101 and is next to a freeway onramp. They also claim that the black-suited interlopers have been napping — and sometimes urinating — in their neighborhood.

The San Bruno police log shows complaint calls over the last several weeks reporting drivers spotted by residents in the Belle Air neighborhood. But for years, the police have told residents that their hands were tied: The drivers were not breaking the law by parking on the street for an extended period of time.

San Bruno police Chief Neil Telford had said the department looked into options such as amending the local vehicle code to give officers more power in the matter and conducting more research into how other cities handled the overflow of limos and shuttles.

Belle Air resident Lena Tofani said the expansion of free parking on airport property for these cars is a welcome change, if it is indeed free of charge. She said she has photographic evidence of the drivers loitering, sleeping in their cars and urinating in bushes, noting these problems have continued since she moved to her current home on Pine Street in 1998.

Tofani and a number of other Belle Air residents have relied on community group ACORN, which, since last year, has been working with residents on the limousine issue.

“It’s a great step in the right direction,” Tofani said.

tramroop@examiner.com

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