SF set to become first US city to price all metered parking based on demand

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

Surge pricing could be coming to every parking meter in San Francisco in 2018 under a plan being considered by the Municipal Transportation Agency.

Under the proposal, each of the city’s 30,200 meters would be subject to hourly rates that vary depending on demand. The charges would fluctuate block by block and by time of day. For example, a neighborhood with a lot of restaurants might see higher meter rates during evenings than during other times of the day.

MTA officials say the approach is intended to increase the availability of coveted city parking spaces, particularly in areas where demand is high. People unwilling to pay the higher rates might seek parking farther away, remain for a shorter period of time, or leave their car at home… (more)

Next time you get the chance to vote for a change at the SFMTA regardless of how lame it sounds vote for that change. Especially if SFMTA and the Mayor oppose the initiative. Otherwise you will get more of the same lousy transit system and traffic and parking controls. And don’t support any more sales tax or other increase in their funds until they return the streets and bus stops that they are stealing from us.

Muni riders losing bus stops: There is a plan to remove more bus stops on the L Taraval line that will be discussed at the next SFMTA Board Meeting. Why have the buses stop? Let’s just let them roll by and wave at them. The SFMTA doesn’t work for people. They work for contractors and that translates into a lot of construction and road repair instead of customer service.  SFMTA never saw a capital improvement grant they didn’t like. I guess it’s more fun to work with contractors than to transport riders.

Killing businesses one ticket at a time:  How the small businesses will survive with this attitude toward the public and the difficulty delivery vehicles are having parking to unload is anybody’s guess. I”m sure we’ll hear from the merchants soon. Tell the Board of Supervisors know how you feel about these ideas and how you plan to deal with higher parking prices if they are approved. Demand an opportunity to vote for a Charter Amendment that reduces SFMTA’s authority.

RELATED:
SF PARKING: City considers transforming parking spots into Uber and Lyft loading zones :

Did anyone ask to have parking spaces to by transformed into loading zones? That is what you get when you trust a city agency such as SFMTA to manage public property. They remove your right to use the public space they manage. Is this what you had in mind when you supported public transit and allowed the SFMTA to manage the streets? Did you envision the loss of the streets for your use?

You can vote here on your preference for where you want to see loading zones. “No where, forget the whole idea” is the most popular option: https://sf.curbed.com/2017/11/28/16711142/uber-lyft-loading-zones-geofencing

 

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The worst neighborhoods for parking in San Francisco

By Mike Moffitt : SFGATE – excerpt  (includes map)

SF collects millions in parking fines every year

In San Francisco, parking regulation enforcement helps ensure that spaces are turned over, bus zones are not blocked, street sweepers can do their job and residential spaces are reserved for residents.

But they also have another purpose — making millions for the city.

Recently we wrote about a new app that pinpointed the 10 most parking ticket-prone blocks in San Francisco.

Now we’re looking at which neighborhoods hand out the most parking citations — and reap the most money… (more)

RELATED:

S.F.’s Worst Block for Parking Pain

By Michael Cabanatnuam and Steve Rubentstien : sfchronicle – excerpt (linked file)

More than 4,000 tickets issued last year on street riddled with confusing signs, changing rules South of Market. (download pdf)

“Parking, which is horrible everywhere in SF and is especially horrible on the 300 Block Townsend” between Fourth and Fifth Streets. This block, located next to the train station, has many conflicting signs regarding traffic and parking instructions.

Thank you Spot Angle for gathering and sharing the data on parking and traffic tickets in SF, and thank you SF Gate and SF Chronicle for conducting further research and reporting on this most irksome issue that plague our citizens.

The public is confused and outraged over many issues on our streets and tickets are responsible for a lot of that anger . Many tickets are issued unfairly and can be contested successfully if you have the time to go to at least two or three hearings.

Muni riders are not immune from erroneous tickets. Many riders complain about tickets issued because of false readings on scanners. This is one more reason people are getting off the bus.

So, what is City Hall going to do about it? They are conducting hearings on a lot of complaints related to street projects. Add this one to the list  We suggest a citizens’ review of all future signs be added to the public outreach of street projects to assure the signs at least make sense and are understood by some humans who know the neighborhood. Tickets given out where signs and rules conflict, should be disregarded as incentive to the department to fix the problem.

SF Budget: Better Muni and Vision Zero…But November Tax Has to Pass

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee released his 455-page budget proposal on Tuesday. It includes $9.6 billion in fiscal year 2016-17  for transportation, police officers, and street cleaning, a $700 million increase in funds. The fiscal year runs from July 1 of this year until June 30 of next year.

The transportation section runs from pages 315 to 322–here are some highlights:

The proposed budget includes an additional $15 million in FY 2016-17 and $62.2 million in FY 2017-18 in new transportation funding. Once fully implemented in FY 2017-18, these investments will provide $28.7 million for Muni fleet, infrastructure upgrades, and transit optimization, $9.6 million for equity and affordability initiatives, $14.3 million to support regional transit projects and fleet needs, and $9.6 million to fully fund street safety projects that are consistent with the City’s Vision Zero policy.

Lee was presenting the budget as a step forward for the city’s transit programs and safety initiatives.

“The result is the SFMTA’s first-ever $1 billion operating budget to improve transit performance and reliability. The SFMTA operates the nation’s eighth largest public transit system and it serves every neighborhood,” said Lee in his Proposed Balanced Budget Speech, on Tuesday…

The ability to grow the budget is due to the strong economy. However, the mayor’s proposal also depends on a sales tax increase to balance the budget. “It is budgeted on the assumption that a half-cent tax for transportation will pass this November,” said Wiener. “It includes $105 million a year for roads, Muni, capital investment, support for BART vehicles, and for street safety improvements.”

An increase in sales taxes as they are removing bus stops and bus seats is the biggest insult so far to the Muni riders. If this is SFMTA’s idea of a friendly Muni I hate to think what their idea of an unfriendly Muni looks like.

Removing bus stops was bad enough because people are forced to walk longer distances carrying carrying their packages than they were previously. Now they are forced to walk longer distances carrying loads and then stand for long periods of time with their packages, on moving vehicles? And they want to charge extra for using cash to pay to ride the Muni. Where do they stop harassing us?

IMG_4627.jpeg

This is a model BART car with a single seat on one side and a double of the other.

This is not right. This is why we need to pass the Charter Amendment and replace the MTA Board with people who understand the needs of human beings.
Write your supervisors. Sample letters are here: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/3318-2/

 

Fixed on ‘Shark Tank’: Interview With Owner

heavy – excerpt

Fixed, an app that takes the stress out of getting tickets, entered the Shark Tank on January 15. Users simply take a picture of their ticket and through the app, they are connected with a lawyer. Heavy interviewed David Hegarty about his San Francisco-based business that has expanded to New York and expects to be in more cities in the near future.
To read all of Heavy’s Shark Tank coverage, click here. (more)

Fight parking tickets with Fixed. Goood to hear FIXED is getting media attention. Beating tickets and fighting the SFMTA is by far our most popular subject, even though the stories are not on the front page, but listed under Complaints. Illegal tickets are handed out to both car drivers and Muni riders and all are mad about that.

 

Will Self-Driving Cars Cost California Millions in Revenue?

Thomas Lee : govtech – excerpt

The state collects around $300 millions from automotive fees based largely on human errors, but the influx of autonomous vehicles could cause this number to drop significantly.

When it comes to public finances, government officials tend to live in the moment. They might want to make an exception in this case.

Google, Uber and Tesla are all testing cars in which powerful software, not humans, operates the vehicles. It’s not hard to foresee the danger these self-driving cars pose to automobile sales, which is one reason why General Motors last week decided to invest $500 million in San Francisco on-demand car service Lyft. Smart move, since GM officials seem to be getting ahead of what could be the mother of all disruptions.

Mayors and governors should adopt GM’s forward thinking because driverless cars will inevitably drain hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue from public coffers each year.

Reduced car ownership will mean fewer automobile sales to tax. But perhaps more important, cops and meter maids will write a lot fewer tickets because smart cars presumably won’t double park, change lanes without signaling or bust through the speed limit. Since cars sit empty about 95 percent of time, self-driving cars can greatly increase efficiency by constantly being in use…

GAS TAX A FAILURE

“Increased fuel economy and electric vehicles have made the gas tax a failure,” said Richard Wallace, director of the transportation systems analysis group for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Yet you see no political will to do something” to replace the revenue…

FEE FOR CAR USE

Still, autonomous vehicles hardly represent a zero sum game. If self-driving cars are safer than human operated ones, fewer people will get hurt in accidents, resulting in cost savings for the taxpayer. The National Highway Transportation Administration estimates that public revenue pays 7 percent of vehicle crash costs. Therefore, autonomous vehicles could save taxpayers about $10 billion a year, according to the Brookings Institute.

Throw in less traffic congestion and need for road repairs, the savings could jump to more than $100 billion a year, the think tank said.

But states and cities will still need to offset the immediate loss of direct revenue from parking and traffic violations. One idea is to move to a system where the government charges people who use self-driving cars fees based on usage, including miles traveled. Last year, Oregon became the first state in the country to start such a pay-as-you-use program for all cars, not just self-driving ones, which charges about 1.5 cents per mile.

In any case, officials probably won’t deal with the problem until they see a dramatic drop in revenue, Williams said.
“Things will get so bad that they have to dream up some approach” to the issue, he said… (more)

RELATED:
The Costs of Self-Driving Cars: Reconciling Freedom and Privacy with Tort Liability in Autonomous Vehicle Regulation

Tesla software update allows self-parking, limits speed

How many problems could we expect to see to our economy, legal liabilities, and personal freedoms if self-driving cars take over the roads?
The self-driving cars are more expensive than Teslas, so, not many people can afford to own one. Insurance rates will be high. Many industry-related jobs could be cut out of the economy.
No way around it, public transit costs more than private transit. There must be a balance to pay the bills. Who is going to pay for the public transit systems when you remove the car drivers from the equation?

Are Parking Meters a Tax on Small Businesses?

by Mark Hay : magazine.good – excerpt

Back in June, a bunch of drunk youths shambling around Cardigan, a Welsh town of about 4,000 people, decided to try to get more beer money by breaking into the city’s four pay-and-display metered parking machines. At first this act of vandalism seemed like a real headache. The bill to fix the meters came in at around $35,000, a fee the local city council had so much trouble sourcing they had to leave the meters broken, and subsequently downtown parking free, for weeks. But as the days dragged on, shoppers and local business owners started feeling glad that the meters had been destroyed. It seems the convenience of free parking and the liberty to stroll from shop to shop without worrying about feeding the meter had increased main street storefront revenues by an  average of about 30 percent and by as much as 50 percent. The boost evened the playing field between local vendors and megastores with free lots outside of town.

We’ve long campaigned for free parking,” Keith Davies, a 64-year-old butcher who’s run a shop in Cardigan since 1978, told the city council. Davies, along with other local businesspeople, is angling to use the evidence from this accidental experiment to eliminate metered parking downtown. “While we don’t condone the damage to the machines, the difference it’s made is unbelievable.”…

Over the past couple of months, journalists (including one columnist in the nationally distributed Independent) have started talking about parking meters as a tax on local businesses, one paid indirectly by customers just for the right to spend their money. Even prominent members of the sitting conservative government seem to be getting behind free parking as a means of reversing the decline in main street shops, 20,000 of which have closed in the last few years alone. Member of Parliament Marcus Jones, who this May became Undersecretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has even publicly suggested that small towns could use meter-free status as an effective means to save local shops…

At the very least, though, Cardigan’s recent experience (along with mounting bodies of evidence from other British towns) has started serious conversations about forcing reticent local councils to experiment with decreasing hourly fees and increasing stays. Hopefully these small towns can attain the gains Cardigan felt during the brief vandal-born parking anarchy, all without losing major revenue or running the urban planning risks of free parking… (more) 

SFMTA falls short with parking meter revenue

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

report from the San Francisco controller’s office shows The City could have potentially collected more revenue from parking meters during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The report said that if every one of the 28,000 metered spaces in the city had been fully paid, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency could have generated as much as $190 million in revenue.

Though it might seem to drivers that parking spaces are always taken,  at least 40 percent of parking metered spaces are not occupied at any given time, according to data from the SFMTA’s SFPark program… (more)

They left out the most likely reason for the empty meters, which is that their PR and street diets have have backfired on them. SFMTA has convinced everyone to go somewhere else or take pubic transportation, walk, bike, or stay home. The fewer cars there are on the road, the lower their revenue from cars will be. Get used to it or change the policies to bring the cars and the revenue back.

But it is more fun to blame others than to admit they overplayed their hand, so we will probably get more of the same and they will lose more money and blame us.

2 property tax bills: 1 for condo, 1 for parking space

By C.W. Nevius : sfchronicle – excerpt

When a tax measure to help pay San Francisco Unified School District teachers was proposed in 2008, Richard La Rose was an enthusiastic supporter. As a teacher at a private institution, La Rose wouldn’t directly benefit, but he didn’t mind paying the annual fee, which he says is $259.20.

He just didn’t expect to pay it twice.

La Rose, like some other residents, is taxed once for his one-bedroom condo and a second time for his parking space. Since the parking spot was sold separately it has its own deed, which is now a common practice among developers. That means he is considered to have two parcels.

“I went to the tax office, and I said I didn’t see why I should have to pay twice,” La Rose said. “They said, ‘Yeah, we get that complaint all the time, but there’s nothing we can do.’”… (more)

RELATED:
An Unintended Consequence of Unbundling Parking from Housing
Transportation and affordable housing advocates advocate unbundling parking from housing to provide an incentive to own fewer vehicles while reducing housing costs and increasing supply. But should parcel taxes be applied to parking spaces?... (more)

San Francisco’s Prop. L: Are motorists being put at the back of the bus?

: KALW – excerpt – (includes audio track)

San Francisco paints itself as a green city, a city of walkers and bicyclists, a transportation friendly city. But some say San Francisco has taken its pro-pedestrian stance too far.

A group called the Restore Transportation Balance Coalition wants to take back the roads. That’s the goal of Proposition L, a declaration of policy to make the city’s parking meters, garages and traffic laws more car-friendly. But at what cost?

San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood recently debuted a glam pedestrian-friendly makeover. The main drag of Castro Street now has palm trees, rainbow crosswalks and wider sidewalks.

But there were some trade-offs for this fresh new look. On-street parking was monopolized by the construction, and now the much narrower street makes it harder for Muni and delivery trucks to get through…

“If you live in San Francisco ask yourself, has traffic gotten worse within the last 10 years? Have my buses? Has ontime wait for Muni increased? Has my bus service improved? Do I feel safer navigating the streets of SF?” he asks.

“The answers almost universally to those questions are no, so obviously what’s going on right now is not contributing to the solution, it’s part of the problem so we need to change things,” Clark says.

And that’s something both sides can agree on. San Francisco hasn’t found an effective solution to the increasing number of cars, and people, on the streets. So it is fitting that the solution itself is at a bottleneck… (more )

Too many parking tickets in SF

By David Hegarty : sfbg – excerpt

OPINION San Francisco made $87 million in parking citation revenue in 2012; roughly double what the city made off actual paid parking meter revenue.

Let that sink in for a minute.

It’s become so hard to park a car in San Francisco that its citizens are paying almost $281,500 a day simply to park, and then they’re cited for doing it wrong.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency should be responsible to the people — to create and maintain clean, orderly streets and transit systems that work for the people who use them.

The responsibility of the SFMTA is not to incentivize government agents to write more tickets and make citizens a passive revenue stream because it’s convenient. Parking citations, in their current form, do not support an ethical citizen-focused approach by the city to parking law and violations.

The simple fact that revenue gained for parking citations is roughly double that of legal, paid parking meter revenue shows an inherent flaw in the system. If it is easier for the city to make money by writing citations, why would it change its systems to create more revenue through meters or alternative means such as license fees or permitting, even if it significantly benefitted citizens of San Francisco? It makes more financial sense to incent its relatively small fleet of parking authority officers to write more tickets…

Conflicting rules and regulations between systems are also a common issue in San Francisco — often signs will contradict themselves or other SFMTA systems, with no clear indication of which rules precede the others. Meters are inconsistent with other regulatory systems in use, permanent parking restriction signs are sometimes missing, hidden, or poorly maintained, and temporary restrictions are often inaccurate — creating grossly unfair conditions for people parking, and incorrectly written tickets by parking enforcement officers…

Ethical parking law would be a clear, mutually fair system which benefits citizens of San Francisco, creates revenue for the city through legal, noncriminal means, and enables a parking environment where citizens can easily follow the rules. Parking law should be optimized for clean, orderly streets and transit programs that are profitable and reliable — instead of convenient revenue.

There must be another way to achieve SFMTA budget requirements than to make the people this government agency should be serving into unintentional criminals.

David Hegarty is the founder of Fixed (www.getfixed.me), a company that helps customers contest parking tickets… (more)