Potrero Parking Problems Continue to Circle

By Nikolas Zelinski : potreroview – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) has yet to implement a cohesive parking plan for Potrero Hill or Dogpatch. A proposed approach, released in 2011, received strong negative reaction from San Franciscans, and was scrapped in late-2013.  The agency has yet to release a new version. 

The 2011 parking proposal encompassed the Hill, Dogpatch, Northeast Mission, and parts of South-of-Market.  It featured metered parking along 22nd, 23rd, and 17th streets, as well as the areas surrounding the University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay campus. Community advocates roundly rejected the plan, insisting that it didn’t address the needs of local residents, most of whom preferred a residential permit system to meters.    

In the wake of the failed proposal, Potrero Boosters president J.R. Eppler has worked with SFMTA to create a new strategy. “At first our negotiations did not go well,” Eppler explained, “but they have started to go better…After all parties educated each other on needs and available options, we would come up with a verbal plan, and after a month or two, the SFMTA would come back with a plan that would miss 60 to 70 percent of the things that we’d talked about. We’ve been doing this for the last couple of years.” 

According to Eppler, local residents want a “finely grained mixture of existing parking tools. Done on a block by block basis. This includes parking meters in front of businesses that need quick turnover, residential parking permits for areas with homes and commercial spaces that might benefit from them, and time limits for other uncontrolled blocks to curb commuter parking.”

While Dogpatch and Showplace Square have faced the brunt of parking problems, San Francisco General Hospital personnel has seen a slight respite.  Since 2009, staff-only parking signs on Vermont Street, between 22nd and 23rd, were installed in response to construction at the hospital.  SFMTA manages the parking garage located at SFGH, and made the street parking agreement with the hospital, explained Andy Thornley, SFMTA senior analyst.  

“I still haven’t tracked down the legislative action that authorized that, but the enforcement division told me that a bit of Vermont was set up for hospital staff as a temporary solution during hospital construction, and presumably will return to general parking,” Thornley said. “That kind of parking is an exception. However there are precedents, such as the special permit parking in front of City Hall on Polk Street, between Grove Street and Hayes Street. However, the SFMTA does not manage those spaces. The space in front of the hospital is pretty unique because SF General is a City facility, and the Department of Public Health operates it, it’s definitely a special case. It’s not like we’re giving out public spaces to Google or Proctor & Gamble.” 

David Meckel, director of research and planning at the California College of the Arts, said he’s pleased to see the new 55-bus line run directly to the campus. “I actually think SFMTA has been pretty responsive, I think they’ve done as good as a job they can…Our main interaction with them was the oversized vehicle ordinance; and they did it, and it helped…I think the system works, but it takes a lot of public process.” Meckel was happy that SFMTA installed “no oversize parking” signs by the college to curb overnight camping, but noted that the signs merely moved the problem to another area. 

According to Thornley, SFMTA hopes to hold a public meeting on ways to address parking challenges in the Northeast Mission in the next couple of months. There are no public meetings planned for the Hill or Dogpatch… (more)

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