Parking in The City costs a pretty penny

Parking-garage rates in San Francisco are nearly double the national average, according to a new survey.

Along with soaring gas prices and rising bridge tolls, commuters opting to drive into The City are paying some of the highest parking prices in the nation, according to real estate broker Colliers International.

On average, downtown parkers pay $350 per month. That compares with a nationwide average of $153.79, the survey found.

Only the downtown areas of New York City and Boston cost more for parking, the survey said.

And it’s not that The City’s parking garages are suddenly charging more.

“Actually, [the cost] has been flat this year,” said John Brown, corporate manager of the city-run Fifth and Mission Parking Garage. “[The City] didn’t touch it because of the economy in general, because business tends to drop off.”

In fact, San Francisco’s downtown parking rates are the same as they were in 2002, since the dot-com downturn, said Ross Moore, senior vice president of Colliers International.

But with gas prices hovering at record levels and with new plans to increase parking-meter rates during peak hours, the lingering parking costs are hitting commuters’ pocketbooks now more than ever, Moore said.

“When a man’s down, what do they say about kicking him?” he said.

City officials aren’t surprised by the cost. Though local transit agencies say gas costs are leadingto increased ridership, The City’s parking demand remains high, according to Judson True, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. About 35,000 cars stream into San Francisco every day, he said.

“We are a transit-first city, so we encourage alternative ways to reach the downtown corridor,” True said. “But the demand for parking remains strong because San Francisco has a vibrant retail and business core.”

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