Street sweeping tickets paused in SF amid coronavirus

Supervisor pushes SFMTA to also stop enforcing parking meters

Examiner file photo

Examiner file photo

San Francisco will not issue street sweeping tickets through the end of March after ordering residents to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mayor London Breed announced the decision Tuesday while also urging residents to move their cars if at all possible.

“It is crucial that we still clean our streets to prevent trash buildup and local flooding,” Breed wrote on Twitter.

All street sweeping tickets from Tuesday will also be waived, but need to be contested, officials said.

The announcement comes after Supervisor Matt Haney publicly pressured the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to freeze street sweeping tickets on behalf of his constituents in the Tenderloin.

The neighborhood is hit particularly hard by street sweeping tickets since its streets are cleaned so often, Haney said.

With the shelter-in-place order barring residents from leaving their homes for non-essential purposes, Haney said “how can they move their cars?”

“Residents should be able to focus on following the health orders and sheltering in place, not running around moving their cars or paying huge fines,” Haney said, adding that the relief “should be extended to meters as well.”

Despite his plea, the SFMTA plans to continue enforcing parking meters to ensure that spaces are available for people who need them for “critical trips.”

“If people are driving and parking for critical trips, they have an expectation they’ll be able to find parking, and meters help ensure spaces are available,” SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato said. “Meters are being enforced because they are near important services where turnover is important to ensure people can get to those businesses.”

But the SFMTA has taken other steps to respond to the shelter-in-place order including by not enforcing peak hour tow-away or ticketing people parked longer than 72 hours.

The agency has also suspended collections of late fees, SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin announced Monday.

The agency will still ticket drivers who exhibit dangerous behaviors or park in ways that block free movement. For instance, SFMTA plans to ticket drivers who block bike lanes or double park.

But some took issue with the agency still handing out tickets for any parking during the crisis.

When SFMTA argued it is still enforcing meters to maintain access to hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores, Bayview resident Theo Ellington shot back.

“We live nowhere near a hospital, pharmacy or grocery store,” Ellington said on Twitter. “If you are going to enforce ANY form of parking, you should be focusing on those areas.”

Ellington was ticketed $79 Tuesday for a street sweeping violation.

He told the Examiner that for a lot of people in his community, the economic impact of the coronavirus can be “financially devastating.”

A parking ticket “could be the difference of being short on rent, having groceries for their kids,” or fulfilling a needed prescription, Ellington said.

Haney also noted that parking in San Francisco isn’t a problem right now, as there are a “ton” of spaces.

“It looks like Christmas Day in San Francisco with regards to street parking,” Haney said. “If people are leaving their cars at a metered spot that’s probably because they’re staying inside, which is what we want them to do.”

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