Parking is in short supply in San Francisco. Nobody really disagrees with that statement. To do so would be to ignore the near impossibility of driving into many neighborhoods, day or night, and finding a spot to leave the car. There’s no parking, and everyone knows it.
The parking debate in The City instead has centered on another question — that is, whether adding more spots would help The City or hurt it. Most city politicians and planners, who prefer visions of a car-free city, generally believe the latter — that increasing parking would encourage more car trips within The City, increase congestion and generally violate The City’s transit-first principles.
Many, many actual residents disagree, believing that — no matter what the social engineers at City Hall tell you — adding more parking spaces would make The City a far more livable place. Perhaps they spent one too many Wednesday nights hoping to catch a movie or a bite to eat and finding themselves circling the theater or restaurant for 45 minutes in ever-widening concentric circles. Maybe they were seniors who drove to a neighborhood commercial corridor only to drive home in frustration after finding nowhere to park. Or maybe they regularly visit a relative in a part of town that it takes two bus trips and 90 minutes to get to, and Muni is just not always an option for them.
Whoever they are, it’s likely some of them are your friends and neighbors, because more than 10,000 of them signed a petition to get Proposition H on next month’s municipal ballot.
Prop. H is a major amendment to the planning code that would increase the number of parking spaces in The City through a variety of means, including significantly increasing the number of spaces allowed for downtown developments, allowing owners of some residential buildings to build new parking spaces in garages and establishing a funding mechanism for new public parking facilities in neighborhoods.
The Examiner was skeptical of Prop. H when it first qualified for the ballot in late July, but recent months — and hearing from many residents and merchants fed up with city parking policies — have changed our thinking. The sweeping nature of the initiative may make it unclear how far-reaching some of the consequences will be, but ultimately Prop. H shifts the balance in city parking policy away from a social-engineering philosophy driven by an anti-car and anti-business Board of Supervisors, and back toward a more market-based model that is more reflective of neighborhood businesses and many residents.
Since arriving on the ballot, Prop. H has become involved in a complicated City Hall compromise between transit types and businesses, which is supposed to lead to another measure on the February ballot loosening some parking restrictions. Deal making aside, voters have a chance to send a message to City Hall without waiting for February. Vote yes on Prop. H, and let the politicians know you’re tired of being told you’re a second-class citizen if you drive a car in San Francisco.