The Cornerstone Church at 3459 17th St. in San Francisco's Mission District. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

Parking for ‘God’ may soon be legal in San Francisco

It has been ordained — church parking in San Francisco may be here to stay.

But the vehicle parking won’t be the same as it has been. Instead of The City allowing parking just for churchgoers on Sundays, parking on the streets by Dolores Park may soon be open to all drivers the entire weekend.

For decades, churchgoers have parked their vehicles along medians on Dolores Street in the Mission, but in recent times that practice has come under fire from neighbors.

It’s not just double-parking, but also parking in the middle of the street. For decades, San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Parking and Traffic, now rolled into the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, turned the other cheek when it came to this churchgoing parking practice.

Now, the issue may soon finally be settled. A meeting of the Median Parking Advisory Committee may make a final recommendation on the issue at their meeting tonight.

“We asked them to recommend anything they want,” said John Knox White, an SFMTA planner, to the San Francisco Examiner. The SFMTA promised to take the committee’s recommendation into serious consideration, Knox White said.

“We’ll take that recommendation and within 90 days get back to them,” he said.

That recommendation then may go before the SFMTA Board of Directors, Knox White said, though it’s unclear whether the matter may require their approval.

The decision may be a major compromise between faith and secular groups, sources tell the Examiner.

“Everyone won a little, everyone lost a little,” said Gus Preston, from the group Friends of Dolores Park. He’s on the committee, and told the Examiner that though all the details have not yet been hammered out, the group is at a consensus that the parking should be open to all.

Preston lived in the neighborhood 20 years, and said he personally was not in favor of Church-goers being given preferential treatment by government.

Many community members agree. In a survey conducted by the SFMTA and circulated widely last week, 68 percent of respondents supported removing the median parking. Of those surveyed, 45 percent support formalizing the practice of median parking.

Still, many churchgoers plead their case, citing declining church attendance as a sign of the need for parking.

“My husband and I are Reality SF church goers who had to move from the city to the East Bay because of rent prices,” wrote one person surveyed, “So, my husband and I commute every Sunday to church from West Berkeley. Without this street parking, we would have to pay so much more.”

Knox White said the committee, and those submitting comments to the committee, had “strong opinions on different side of each other,” but found common ground.

“That’s something [SFMTA] be been over the years working to do,” he said. “It’s heartening to see it bearing fruit.”

The Median Parking Advisory Committee meeting will be 1-3 p.m. today at the SFMTA, located at One South Van Ness, in the Civic Center Conference Room, third floor.

This article contains a correction from its print edition: Prior to 1999, the Department of Parking and Traffic, not Muni, was responsible for issuing traffic tickets. The Examiner regrets the error.

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