Twitter conference blocks off scores of parking spaces for no apparent reason

: sfgate – excerpt

There’s an oft-repeated claim these days that San Francisco is up for sale to the highest bidder. We’d say that seems to be the case when scores of parking spaces in the Civic Center are closed off for a Twitter conference, but payment to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is a mere $1,194.

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was the site Wednesday of a one-day conference called Flight, put on by Twitter for mobile developers. At the request of conference producer Another Planet Entertainment, the SFMTA gave the go-ahead for signs to be posted notifying drivers they’d be towed if they parked on Grove between Larkin and Polk streets or on Larkin between Grove and Hayes.

The spaces were reserved for set-up Tuesday, the conference Wednesday and clean-up Thursday, though almost all the parking spaces Thursday morning were empty or dotted with just a neon green cone. Just three small trucks were parked in front of the auditorium. Meanwhile, some people driving to City Hall circled for 30 minutes before finding a spot — far away.

Copies of the permits for temporary signage restricting the parking spaces show that Another Planet paid the standard rate,  which, it could be argued, is the first time in history any city fee has ever seemed low.

Eric Sainz, operations manager for Another Planet, said his company requested the number of spaces Twitter said it would need. He acknowledged they weren’t really needed all day Thursday, but the signs remained up.

Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Twitter, e-mailed, “We had all the proper permits for the spaces, just like any of the other large event-holders in that area, like Salesforce. In fact, we were required to keep many of those spaces open as part of the security protocols.”

Paul Rose, spokesman for the SFMTA said, “Based on the information presented, this was an appropriate plan.”… (more)

Looks like it is time to re-visit the protocols.  Hopefully Supervisors Cohen can include these reports into her legislative efforts to free up overly broad toe-zones for construction sites. The problem appears to lie in some regulatory code that was probably sneaked in while no one was looking. Let’s start by requesting a copy of the security protocols that require blocks of reserved parking when none is required.

Cutting off blocks of traffic always impacts Muni as well as everyone else. How far behind schedule did this event put Muni? And how many Muni riders missed out on their regular routes because of this?

How do you find out about the route changes if you don’t have a computer or smart phone to refer to? If SFMTA is going to send out notices that way, they should hand out phones to everyone who can’t afford them so they can check from home to see if their routes have changed.

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