Parking meter changes may be coming to San Francisco

Drivers face the possibility of thousands more parking meters being installed throughout The City.

More than 5,400 new parking meters could be added to city streets and enforcement could be extended to Sundays in five neighborhoods under separate proposals being considered by the cash-strapped San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The new parking meters would be added to neighborhoods such as South of Market, Civic Center, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Mission district and lower Potrero Hill. Many new meters would feature aspects of the SFMTA’s SFpark program — new technology aimed at reducing congestion and improving parking occupancy rates in The City.

Pay rates at many of the new metered spaces would vary based on demand, and would feature extended time limits. Also, those meters would have sensors to detect occupancy rates and could accept credit cards. All told, the SFMTA is proposing 5,405 new meters, bringing San Francisco’s total to more than 30,000. The neighborhoods potentially facing the biggest meter expansion are SoMa, which could see as many as 2,560 new meters, and lower Potrero Hill, which could receive an additional 1,540.

After implementation and enforcement expenses, the meters are expected to generate $1.2 million annually for the SFMTA, which is facing a $39.3 million shortfall for next fiscal year. Pending approval from the transit agency’s board of directors, which will vote on the proposal next month, the first meters would be installed this fall.

The five neighborhoods slated for Sunday meter enforcement — West Portal, the Marina, Hayes Valley, Inner Richmond and a portion of the Financial District — could become part of a 90-day pilot program starting June 1. A separate neighborhood — Fisherman’s Wharf — could be part of another 90-day pilot program, this one to extend meter enforcement until 9 p.m. weekdays and midnight on weekends.

Like the plan to increase the number of parking meters, the Sunday and evening enforcement pilot programs would feature elements of the SFMTA’s SFpark program.

Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the SFMTA, has the authority to approve the pilot project for the Sunday and evening meter enforcement, but the board of directors must approve any measure to expand the program.

The SFMTA projected that extended meter enforcement in areas throughout The City would bring in $9 million annually. Sonali Bose, the transit agency’s chief financial officer, said at the SFMTA’s board meeting Tuesday that there has been resistance to Sunday and evening meter enforcement from various merchant groups.

Russell Pritchard, president of the Hayes Valley Merchants Association, said his organization initially opposed the Sunday enforcement plan, but after hearing about the program’s benefits from SFMTA representatives, the group is split more evenly on the matter.

The twin meter proposals follow the SFMTA’s first “parking space census.” The study found more than 441,000 total parking spaces in The City, and Mayor Gavin Newsom said that information will allow the SFMTA to roll out its SFpark programs in new neighborhoods.


New funding helps avoid fare hike

A proposal to increase Fast Pass fares for Muni’s cable car and express-bus routes has been shelved, and planned service reductions are expected to be scaled back or delayed, due to $36 million in state funding for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

In February, the SFMTA, which operates Muni, approved a 10 percent reduction in service and a $10 increase to the aforementioned Fast Pass fares as a way to make up a then-$12.2 million midyear deficit.

With the state transit funding, the agency’s board of directors said Tuesday it would abandon plans for the fare increases and defray or delay the 10 percent service reduction, which was scheduled for May 1.

Even with the additional state funding, the SFMTA still faces a $39.3 million deficit for next fiscal year, which begins July 1. To help make up that shortfall, the transit agency is considering annual Fast Pass fare increases based on inflation (starting in 2011), adding 5,400 new parking spaces and reducing work orders (reimbursement payouts to other city departments.)

The SFMTA board must submit a balanced budget by May 1.

— Will Reisman


Parking in The City

25,000 Existing parking meters

5,405 Proposed new parking meters

441,541 Total parking spaces

$1.6M Additional annual revenue new meters would generate

$39.3M SFMTA deficit for next fiscal year

Neighborhoods slated for Sunday meter enforcement pilot program (West Portal, Hayes Valley, Financial District, Marina, Inner Richmond)

$9M Projected annual revenue from full rollout of extended meter enforcement

Source: SFMTA

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