Opponents ask for space on S.F. parking issue

A controversial parking initiative slated for the November ballot may be left by the wayside, as a proposed deal between opposing forces could leave the measure with little financial and political support.

Weekend negotiations between downtown business-interest groups, transit advocates and Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin produced a possible compromise that would derail a November measure to increase The City’s parking supply and, at the same time, fuel support for a separate Muni reform initiative.

While it’s too late to make changes to either initiative, both of which will appear on the November ballot, transit advocates have asked backers of the parking initiative to withdraw support from the measure. In exchange, they will support a third initiative on the February ballot that would help increase parking throughout The City, but with greater restrictions than the current measure.

“This is predicated on them no longer running a campaign,” Peskin said. “It’s ‘yes’ on Muni reform, ‘no’ on adding 100,000 cars to a city that already has half a million, and ‘yes’ to a sensible parking policy in February.”

The neighborhood parking initiative, backed by downtown businesses, would loosen parking restrictions and allow developers to build parking garages with little planning oversight. Transit advocates claim the measure would reverse decades of transit-first planning guidelines.

If backers agree to withdraw support of the November parking measure, Peskin said he is ready to introduce a measure for the February ballot as early as today.

However, Jim Ross, a consultant for the parking initiative, said Sunday that the campaign for the November parking initiative is still moving forward. “That may change next week,” he said. “But as far as I know, there’s no compromise or deal.”

Peskin’s Sensible Parking Initiative for the February ballot would allow developers to build one parking space for each new unit in the Marina, Sunset, Richmond and Outer Mission neighborhoods. Specific neighborhood plans designed around public transit, such as the Balboa Park plan, could apply for an exemption from the one-to-one requirement.

The February measure would retain the current parking restrictions downtown, while allowing developers to build one or more parking garages with a total of 1,500 new parking spaces in the South of Market neighborhood, according to Peskin, specifically the area bordered by Townsend Street in the southeast, 10th Street in the southwest, Howard Street in the northwest, and Sixth Street in the northeast.

“What this compromise would do is allow us to make real progress on Muni and add a moderate amount of parking in appropriate places,” said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research association, a local think tank.

arocha@examiner.com

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