S.F. parking debate in overdrive

Revising city standards that will allow for the creation of new parking spaces has City Hall working overtime, as the issue now includes one city ordinance, two November ballot initiatives and a possible February 2008 ballot initiative.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin introduced a parking ordinance Tuesday that is part of a compromise between downtown business-interest groups and transit advocates. The ordinance increases parking in some city neighborhoods and is part of a compromise meant to ensure that there is little financial and political support for the Parking for Neighborhoods Initiative, which has been placed on the November ballot.

The parking initiative increases the current stock of downtown parking spaces by allowing developers to build parking garages and with little planning oversight. Opponents say it flies in the face of San Francisco’s transit-first policy and undoes decades of city planning.

The compromise was meant also to solidify support for a November ballot initiative designed to fix Muni, which includes a provision that would negate the Parking for Neighborhoods Initiative. The face-off between the initiatives has set the stage for aggressive and expensive campaigns and has led to talks about a compromise.

The ordinance, however, is not enough to pull the plug on the political campaign for the Parking for Neighborhoods Initiative, according to campaign manager Jim Ross. Ross said that they will not stop the campaign until Peskin puts the compromise measure on the February ballot.

On Tuesday, Peskin obtained three signatures on a ballot measure, which basically mirrors the ordinance, from members of the Board of Supervisors, which, along with his own, is enough to put it on the February 2008 ballot.

But Peskin has yet to file the measure for the February ballot with the Department of Elections and has not committed to doing so at this point. Peskin said the solution to the current parking debate should occur at the legislative level, which allows for public hearings as well as expert studies and analysis, as opposed to policy making at the ballot box, which has little public involvement.

“I think it’s important that people know that sensible solutions can be achieved and that what’s currently been put before the voters by a handful of downtown titans isn’t that solution,” Peskin said.

The parking ordinance introduced Tuesday would allow at least one parking space for each housing unit constructed in the western part of The City, which includes such neighborhoods as the Sunset, Marina, Pacific Heights and the Richmond.

It would also allow developers to build parking garages to allow for no more than 2,500 cars in part of the South of Market area bounded by Howard, Sixth, Towsend, Division and Ninth streets. The ordinance is to undergo public hearings by the Planning Commission as well as by the Board of Supervisors.

jsabatini@examiner.com


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