Transit to consider legalizing controversial ‘Parking for God’ on Dolores Street

A quasilegal practice of churchgoers parking on Dolores Street’s median — what some have decried as “parking for God” — may finally become legal.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors on Tuesday will consider whether to approve a pilot program to formalize median parking on Dolores Street.

Another similar proposal concerning Guerrero Street will be decided at a later date, according to SFMTA planner John Knox White.

For decades, weekend churchgoers illegally parked their vehicles along medians on Dolores Street, blocking the middle of the street. But the vehicles were not regularly ticketed, causing neighbors to complain that city officials were turning the other cheek.

In a make-peace move, the SFMTA convened a group of stakeholders, including secular neighbors and church officials, in a Dolores/Guerrero Median Parking Advisory Committee. The committee was tasked with creating and voting on a community proposal, but did not vote with a five-person majority on that proposal at their final meeting, according to Knox White.

Without a community mandate, SFMTA staff sent along a proposal that streamlines and formalizes what already occurs: street parking.

The staff proposal would create a 12-month pilot proposal to “clarify” what times are allowed for the median street parking, and constrict it so parked cars don’t block emergency vehicles.

Still, Knox White said, the proposal contains alternatives the SFMTA board could choose to enact instead, including the complete prohibition of all median parking on Dolores Street.

“I suspect we’d lean toward a pilot” because of the board’s history of approving pilots, Tom Nolan, chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors, told the San Francisco Examiner on Thursday.

Rabbi Ted Riter of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, which is on Dolores and 16th streets, said he was relieved to hear parking may be preserved for those attending religious services.

Without it, he said, “We would not be able to serve our community. It’s as simple as that.”

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