An initiative to increase the number of parking spaces in San Francisco has public-transit advocates furious, while supporters say it will help drivers and small-business owners as parking becomes more of a hassle.
Supporters claim the initiative, sponsored by the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations, prepares The City for an expected influx of vehicles during the next five years. Opponents, however, say it would reverse 30 years of successful public-transit planning and squeeze out areas dedicated to pedestrians, bicyclists and buses.
Specifically, the 61-page ordinance, formally called the “Parking for Neighborhoods Initiative,” would allow developers to build a minimum of three parking spaces for every four units in downtown San Francisco. Currently, developers are allowed to build one parking space for every four units.
The initiative would also require developers to build one parking space for each unit throughout the rest of The City and allow property owners to build parking spaces — even if bus stops, bicycle lanes or trees are in the way. Additionally, the measure requires a minimum number of spaces for low-emission and hybrid vehicles.
The measure would reverse a long-standing trend in San Francisco toward decreasing the amount of parking spaces. Both public-transit advocates and car-friendly backers say they have been battling for their respective interests for decades.
“We’ve added millions of square feet of office buildings and tens of thousands of jobs in downtown and have done so by increasing transit ridership,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City.
In the last few years, Radulovich said downtown San Francisco has thrived as a mecca for retail without a significant amount of new space for parking. The Westfield Shopping Center, for example, opened without additional parking and still attracts thousands of shoppers each day.
Supporters of the initiative, however, say it will actually assist in the effort by getting cars off the streets and into parking structures. Jim Ross, a political consultant for the campaign, said the measure is an attempt to face the reality that more vehicles will be in San Francisco over the next few years.
“We can’t force a carless culture when the average household in San Francisco owns almost two cars,” he said.
The initiative is likely heading to the ballot in November. Ross said the measure needs a little more than 10,300 signatures to make it on the ballot, and supporters have already collected more than 12,000.
Making a case for parking
A new initiative altering the San Francisco Planning Code with regards to parking in The City is headed for the November ballot. Here are some of its proposals:
» Divides The City into four planning “quadrants” that correspond with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s “superdistricts.”
» Allows developers to build three parking spaces for every four units in downtown.
» Requires developers to build one parking space for every residential unit throughout The City.
» Allows property owners to build at least one parking space regardless of bus stops, bicycle lanes or trees that may be in the way.
» Expands the distance in which “off-site” parking can be built for a unit from 600 feet to 1,000 feet away.
» Requires a certain number of parking spaces for structures with 25 or more units to be dedicated for low-emission or hybrid vehicles.
– Source: Parking for Neighborhoods Initiative
Do you think The City needs more parking?
Share your comments below.