Parking plan may help residents left circling by out-of-town vehicles

Gil Riego Jr./Special to the S.F. ExaminerCurb appeal: A driver steps into a car on St. Mary’s Avenue

Jane and James Dubuque would love to drive to a local restaurant for a meal every now and then, but the prospect is just too frightening for the retired Glen Park couple.

Their reluctance isn’t related to some anxiety disorder or aversion to overpriced cuisines. It’s because they’re convinced that if they leave their neighborhood, they’ll never find another nearby parking spot.

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Like many families in The City, the Dubuques are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to parking.

They live on St. Mary’s Avenue, a small street near the Glen Park BART station that sits just outside of a residential parking permit zone. Expanding the zone to their street would require the support of 51 percent of area households, but the Dubuques have been unable to persuade their neighbors to sign a petition because several of them have garages beneath their homes.

Due to the proximity of St. Mary’s Avenue to the BART station, the Dubuques say, their block frequently fills up with out-of-town motorists who park all day and take public transportation downtown. And because street sweeping only occurs every two weeks, some cars stay for lengthy periods of time, depriving neighbors of a place to park. While cars are technically supposed to move every 72 hours, Jane Dubuque said enforcement is often spotty in the area.

“A lot of the times we don’t do the things we really want to do, because we’re always thinking about parking,” Jane Dubuque  said. “If we want to go to the store, or go out for the evening, we know that when we come back, our spot will be gone.”

The Dubuques have lived at their home for 26 years, but Jane Dubuque said the parking problem has gotten noticeable worse over the years.

“It’s a dilemma every day for us,” she said. “There clearly needs to be changes to this system.”

For the Dubuques, those changes may soon be arriving. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates traffic in The City, is working on a comprehensive overhaul of the residential parking program.

Instead of the patchwork of parking zones that currently dot The City, the agency will establish and administer a more streamlined system, with zones based on demand and availability. Agency officials say the new system could be in place within two years.

SFMTA Spokesman Paul Rose said the current petition-based process doesn’t always align with his agency’s broader parking and transportation goals.

“This is one reason why we are working with the public to reform this residential parking tool that was established in the ’70s,” he said.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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