Whether it’s Captain & Tennille’s song “Muskrat Love,” or the “yabba dabba doo” of talking Fred Flintstone dolls, some creations of the 1970s belong in the 1970s.
Soon The City may add its parking permit rules to that list.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency ended the first public comment period on its “Residential Parking Permit Evaluation & Reform Project” this week, and planners are now looking to revisit permitted parking across San Francisco.
The City’s residential parking program was first drafted in 1976.
It’s seen some minor amendments, like in 2002 when parking permits were limited to four per household. But this could be the first major overhaul to the program, SFMTA planners said.
Right now, the SFMTA issues parking permits in 29 “permit areas” across The City, and 87,000 permits were issued in fiscal year 2014-15.
There are 78,000 parking spaces in The City’s permit program, which comprises 28 percent of parking spaces in San Francisco.
But The City’s transportation landscape, and use of curb spaces, has changed considerably since those rules were first enacted, said Hank Wilson, an SFMTA planner.
“As the program has grown and The City has changed, the policy may need to change,” he told the San Francisco Examiner.
At City College of San Francisco on Tuesday night, Wilson and other SFMTA planners heard from neighbors who offered insight into how parking shapes their neighborhoods.
Patty DeVlieg of the Excelsior District Improvement Association told the Examiner, “The program does need an overhaul.”
“Our problem is at night,” she said of the Excelsior. “People park all over the sidewalk.”
Other neighbors shared DeVlieg’s concerns. One Excelsior homeowner, Ida, said cars parking on the sidewalk force her to walk in the street to get home.
“They need enforcement,” she said of the sidewalk parkers.
Wilson said nighttime parking concerns are among many the SFMTA has heard. Printing out permits online, changing the amount motorcycles and scooters are charged, or potentially allowing greener vehicles to pay less than the $111 annual fee are among other ideas from neighbors.
“One thing we’ve heard from the outside is to try to do more tailoring for neighborhood use,” he said, which might mean rules can stretch or change between various neighborhoods like North Beach and the Excelsior.
“Right now it’s sort of a one-size-fits-all policy,” Wilson said.
The need for curb space has spiked over the years, too. Car sharing, taxis, bikeshare, commuter shuttles, tour buses and even the moped-sharing company Scoot are all among new services competing for curbs.
“The streets haven’t gotten any bigger, the curbs haven’t gotten any longer, but there’s more activity now,” Wilson said.
Even less futuristic technologies are influencing parking differently now than in the 1970s.
“Since 1976, Muni Metro was created,” Wilson said, referencing the transit agency’s light rail vehicles. “I know that sounds like a long time ago, but that’s how long ago this has been around.”
Commuters drive to some train stops, he said, impacting parking in neighborhoods they run through.
The next round of public comment on residential parking is tentatively slated for April, when SFMTA staff will propose potential new ideas for permit parking to San Franciscans. The SFMTA Board of Directors could vote on proposals as early as fall.
Rules that could, perhaps, remain for another 40 years.
To tell the SFMTA what you think about residential permit parking, visit the program’s website here.