Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit

SFMTA Slow to Unfold Parking Strategies

By Keith Burbank : potrero view – excerpt

Last month the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced plans to reopen the conversation with the Dogpatch and Potrero Hill communities about strategies to better manage parking, within the context of future transportation development along the Central Waterfront. At a meeting held at Genetech Hall at the University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay, SFMTA presented parking data it had collected in the area.  At the gathering Hill resident Ed Lortz expressed concerns that SFMTA will install meters along the 18th and 20th street commercial corridors that extend around corners to the fronts of residents’ homes. “That’s one of my big worries,” Lortz said.

According to Paul Rose, an SFMTA spokesperson, any parking changes in the area are likely to be “small in scope and iterative, with the goal of addressing parking on the busiest of commercial blocks, where customers are currently having a challenging time finding parking spaces. A comprehensive approach is not likely.”

But changing parking policies space by space isn’t the approach preferred by some community groups.  The Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF), an anti-parking meter advocacy organization, is working with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors “to develop better, more comprehensive solutions than the spot zoning SFMTA is trying to use,” said Mari Eliza, an ENUF member.

According to Potrero Boosters president J.R. Eppler, the neighborhood is likely to get a suboptimal plan unless SFMTA looks at the whole system simultaneously. Eppler argued that SFMTA needs to try some new ideas, such as commercial permits, that allow for parking by employees. “It may be time to develop some new tools to address the issues we have,” he said.

Pennsylvania Avenue resident Jim Wilkins agreed. Wilkins said the agency has yet to address the parking needs of the neighborhood’s production, distribution and repair businesses. “Do they intend to blanket 16th and 17th streets with meters?” Wilkins asked. “Or will they work with the businesses and community to come up with a more creative solution?”

At last month’s meeting, Tony Kelly, past Potrero Boosters president, suggested that SFMTA install meters in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill, but give residents a parking card so they don’t have to feed the meters. Commuters would have to pay, and the City would still receive most of the revenue it would collect if residents weren’t provided with a parking card, given commuter demand to park in the area.  Mission District residents have expressed support for Kelly’s idea… (more)

Since this article ran, the Supervisors stopped the expansion of parking meters into the neighborhoods and the Small Business Commissioners announced they plan a more active role in working with the SFMTA at the earliest stages of the planning process to protect local businesses.

We need parking transit hubs near freeway and bridge exits. Members of a number of influential city agencies – Small Business Commissioners, MTA Board members, and some Planning Commissioners – are starting to suggest that the best solution to traffic problems in San Francisco are to build parking near freeway exits, so that people can easily get out of their cars and take public transit to their final destinations. SMTA needs to get us where we need to go not tell us how to get there.


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