San Francisco Parking Meter
If you happen to be in San Francisco this weekend, be sure to enjoy the free parking in metered spots this Sunday, it will be your last chance. As of 2013, all meters run by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will operate on Sundays from noon to 6 pm, a change which is projected to yield an extra $2 million a year for the Agency.

67 thoughts on “As 2012 Ends, So Does Free Sunday Parking In San Francisco”
  1. 2 million dollars? Why even bother? The city will blow that on lap dances for the homeless before the end of January…

  2. Then we should all do our best to boycott the SF meters on Sundays; then let’s see how much money they’ll make. Unbelievable.

  3. I’m excited about this. Now I’ll be able to find parking on Sunday instead of seeing cars parked in the spots all day without moving.

  4. The fight against market-based reforms in this town is maddening. At least the current crop of government folks seems less socialist-minded than your average Socketsite commenter.

  5. I can project that we will see ZERO improvement in MUNI from this additional $2m.I suspect it will all go to pay for higher salaries demanded by the bully union to bad, complacent and mean drivers.

  6. SFTMA gets over 170 MILLION from parking citations, parking meters, parking garages and residential parking permits. In addition, they get over 72 MILLION a year from a sales tax the SFCTA administers:
    My guess is this roughly 240 million a year would not even cover the salaries, benefits and pensions for their over 5000 employees.
    I agree with futurist, we should not expect to see any improvement in MUNI from any additional funds raised from meters and citations being enforced on Sundays.

  7. Ok, I get it: paying for parking isn’t fun. So what’s the alternative? If there are more cars than spaces, people are going to end up paying anyway, just in minutes (and hours) instead of dollars. Now, I know some people like this on the grounds of equality: rich and poor pay the same.
    But that doesn’t really work. People with money always have more alternatives: taxis, valets, private lots. And paying in time, anyway, is a lousy way to run things. If people pay in dollars, at least those dollars can be used to fund transit, which benefits the poor a lot more than free parking for the car they can’t afford.

  8. I don’t mind paying for parking at all. It’s a small cost for me to park in The City.
    What I mind is the completely inept, incompetent transit system we have in our fair city.
    And what I mind is the incredible power the transit union has to establish and CONTROL the salaries of the transit employees, and the dominating control they have over the operations; which basically are among the worst of any large city in the country.

  9. Perhaps it is time for the city to give residents a residents card to be used in meters for reduced rates. We pay significant property taxes and should not have to pay meters to park In front of our homes.

  10. In the 1970’s this city fought back against “Manhattanization.” That the hell has happened recently that we are being Manhattanized to death? Who are these idiots who are trying to ruin our city?

  11. I wouldn’t mind the meters so much if you could get a few hours on them. You should be able to have a leisurely lunch and go to a few stores or a movie – i.e., patronize local businesses. Who ever decided that we had to complete all our chores in 60 minutes? It’s ridiculous. Let people buy three hours instead of one. Most of the time people wouldn’t do it, so you’d still get plenty of turnover.
    Same thing with residential parking. Supposedly the goal is to keep out commuters; well, a four hour limit is sufficient for that. Why chase people out who have business in the area? – especially when so many residents are away at work anyway.

  12. “The irony is that these measures don’t come close to closing the SFMTA budget gap, which is running to $53 million over the next two years. An extra 1,000 parking meters would net about $1 million. Increasing parking fines could earn $5.4 million. And the Sunday parking meters, which are wildly unpopular, would generate just $2 million.”
    From “Dear MUNI, don’t ask drivers to balance your budget”

  13. The only reason meters were free on Sunday is that historically stores were closed on Sunday and people went to church. And the churches had political clout. Today, virtually all stores are open and Sunday is a big shopping day. Thus parking should not be free.
    As anon and Alai have said above, charging for parking is just good capitalism. The city has an incredibly valuable resource – curbspace. There is more demand for curbside parking than space available. The market will sort it out.
    Smart meters and smart phones will soon allow us to add time to the meter remotely, and even phone us when the meter is about to run out.

  14. Was visiting friends over in Lafayette this afternoon and we needed to leave early to hit some last minute gift shopping in SF (for a NYE tradition with another family).
    We realized we were less than 5-mins from downtown Walnut Creek so off we went. Parking for free. Same store as we would usually shop in (Union Sq staples). Clean. Did I mention Clean? and free parking? These two SF long-time residents might have just created our own Sunday shopping tradition…

  15. ^If you were five minutes from Walnut Creek, why in the world were you not planning on shopping there? It would be insane to DRIVE into downtown SF just to do some quick shopping (rather than a destination shopping run for the day).

  16. San Francisco Walnut Creek is very clean and has great shopping. Free parking makes for leisurely lunch/dinner/shopping/everything.

  17. Let me break this down. I read a quote from a preeminent expert on transit who stated that the sole purpose of metering is to ensure that there is always at least one open parking space on a given street. That’s it. The point being that you provide ample parking, and provide for a regular influx of new visitors. How fast the turnover needs to be to ensure that is obviously going to vary.
    If MUNI could at the very least provide reliable, on-time service with this new chunk of change, it might be seen as worth it, but we all know that is not going to happen, and the problems that the MTA faces will not, cannot be solved by nickel-and-diming the residents of the city they claim to serve. Furthermore, I would point out that when people decide to take BART instead of driving, none of that fare money goes to the city, it goes to BART.
    I want to be clear, issue is not free parking, or even that we feel entitled to cheap parking- it’s that parking fees should never be seen as a source of revenue before they are seen as a method of controlling traffic. That the MTA sees parking as a commodity, whose price will fluctuate according to demand, is troubling to me. People in a residential neighborhood will want to park for long periods in front of or near to their homes- is this the same thing as parking for 8 hours on a downtown street while you have lunch and get a haircut? Obviously not, but the MTA doesn’t seem to care. They continue to push metering out of downtown and into RESIDENTIAL neighborhoods, sacrificing the convenience of 80-90 percent of the residents in those areas with the idea that this will make parking easier! Plenty of people in SF don’t have garages, and they can’t get permission to build them either, forcing them to feed the meter or move their car constantly lest they be ticketed. This is not a move motivated by planning, or by anything sensible.
    One more example: I am required several months out of the year to commute, and park at the base of Potrero Hill near 16th street. Most of the parking there is in high demand, so it is extremely tough to find a space. I have found a stretch of parking a few blocks away that is currently free and always has at least one space open, which means I don’t usually have to hunt for parking. Still, if I could park closer to my destination it would be nice, which is why you might think that the announced plan to put meters in the area is reasonable. Instead let’s look at why the parking in the area is so poor during the weekday. There are quite a few tech firms in the area, including Zynga, so there is one source of congestion. Residents obviously. These are not however the true problem. The real source of the parking troubles are the countless number of students from the UCSF Mission Bay campus who are taking the free parking blocks away from their campus to avoid paying for the expensive campus garages. In addition, the planning department has helpfully designed Mission Bay in such a way as to eliminate most on-street parking entirely, leaving people no choice (they thought) but to use the garages. The garages that are priced too high to stomach. So what is the solution? Apparently it isn’t forcing UCSF to lower their parking rates, nor is it a greater emphasis on adding to the amount of street parking in the developing street grid (wider streets are frowned upon by developers), none of the above. Instead it is the expansion of metering, because just think of how much money the city will make! Money lost due to lost business on Sundays (Walnut Creek…)? Forget that, the MTA will get an extra two mil and finally solve the parking problems once and for all! At least until the next budget shortfall.

  18. Right, of course. The solution to the parking problems is to widen the streets– in other words, to take acres away from silly things like housing, or offices, or parks, and use them for surface parking. Fantastic.
    UCSF Garages? Right, that’s really the best use of UC money– building garages so that you’re not inconvenienced. Hey, by eliminating a few professors, they could build literally dozens of structured parking spaces.
    Oh, and the best part is that all the students have to pay for it, and can’t even opt out by choosing not to drive.
    What it all comes down to is the philosophy that it’s perfectly acceptable to drive up the cost of housing, schooling, commerce, and every other land use, as long as parking remains free.

  19. “We’re not expecting free parking,” said one resident. “If MTA is going to put meters in Doppatch, the Mission, and Potrero Hill, they should put meters in Pacific Heights. It’s not fair,” the resident said.”
    I enjoyed Adam’s comments reminding many here that the dispute is regarding RESIDENTIAL neighborhood parking meters.
    Would Presidio Heights have meters placed down outer Jackson and Washington? Why not meters on Outer Broadway? Would SFMTA ever try to remove all of the parking along a shopping street in Cow Hollow or the Marina like this?:
    “Dr. Gilson, a former triathlete, thought the issue was larger. He said that cyclists had become a powerful political force, and that city leaders had forgotten that most people did not bicycle (7 percent of trips in the city are by bike, according to the coalition), including parents who must shuttle children or those with physical limitations.
    “It’s so anti-family and anti-elderly it’s not even funny,” he said,”
    Adam’s comments above perfectly explain what is going on:
    “I want to be clear, issue is not free parking, or even that we feel entitled to cheap parking- it’s that parking fees should never be seen as a source of revenue before they are seen as a method of controlling traffic”

  20. So long as they install more meters that take credit cards I don’t really care about paying a few bucks
    I do care about getting an $80 ticket because I don’t have enough quarters and get nailed for being 10 minutes late to my car which happened to me on Mission Geneva the other day.
    That would have paid for 8-12 months of Sunday parking for me.

  21. In the 1970’s this city fought back against “Manhattanization.” because it blocks views, overcrowds the city, and creates parking problems.
    The developers who are building these enormous highrises do not want to pay for parking or parking garages. Their solution is to push a “car free” movement through city hall and the SFMTA.
    Its a recipe for disaster that is already causing traffic congestion and parking headaches. Blame the Mayor and The Board of supervisors for allowing this to happen. They control who gets appointed to the SFMTA Board.
    All this can be undone by breaking up the SFMTA and replacing them with an organization that has not been corrupted by the 1%. You can fight back here

  22. You don’t need parking meters on Broadway in Pacific Heights because no one wants/needs to park there.
    This isn’t a revenue issue, it’s a way of regulating demand (you know, free market and stuff – I know, I know, completely foreign concept to the socialists of Socketsite, but still). Places that have lots of people wanting to park should regulate that parking through charging for it.

  23. agree with anon. theres always plenty of parking on broadway and in pac hts in general. theres no need for meters there. pac hts is not expanding and growing. potrero and dogpatch is. with the new UCSF and new housing that has gone in over the past few years, + rest of mission bay and 3rd st rail, it was predictable. with growth comes congestion.
    in my opinion, more garage space would’ve helped. every new development needs more parking. at least 1 space for every new 1 or 2 bdroom and at least 2 spaces for every 3 bdroom. UCSF garage should be 2x as big .
    we have to build adequate parking when we expand people in a neighborhood. as a cyclist, i think there is too much power given to cycling plan as well. the majority of people drive or take muni. very very few people cycle.

  24. While we’re on this parking discussion..and the previous mention of “churches”…
    I’d like to see The City address the currently free parking for so called church-goers on Valencia St. and in one lane of Dolores.
    How did that get started and why is it allowed? Especially the center lane parking on Valencia. Seems dangerous. And this free church parking seems to violate the separation of church and state.

  25. Who complains about congestion and then says the solution is to provide for more cars?
    Who argues that a few dollars an hour is too much to pay for a parking space and then says that the solution is for the UC or the city–ie all of us–to pay tens of thousands of dollars to build one?
    I’m actually somewhat sympathetic to people who believe that they “own” the spaces in front of their homes. There’s an argument to be made there. But the way to deal with that is with residential parking permits and such– not demanding that universities spend huge sums of money on projects that will only encourage more of their students to drive.

  26. “Who complains” @Alai? Only you it would seem, since NOBODY has mentioned the comments you claim. Nobody claimed to “own” parking spaces. Business owners have complained when parking spaces were removed (originally) for the 17th street bike lane because it would reduce easy access for customers, they also said they liked parking meters as it would allow for more customers to visit their stores. What is so crazy about asking for any new large institution to provide parking for their building such as UCSF?
    I say, put a parking meter in front of every curb in this city, since the SFMTA has admitted that their primary reason is to narrow their yearly budget defecits. (See actual quotes and articles listed in previous comments above) Let everyone on the north side of the city enjoy what is happening in southern neighborhoods.
    SF ENUF has a fascinating video page where you can see the SFMTA in action trying to justify why they want to ONLY meter the southside neighborhoods and where they admit in front of an audience that removing and restricting parking is their goal along with using parking for revenue for their own bloated bureaucracy.

  27. “That $2M will ALMOST cover the pension obligation for ONE cop or fireman…”
    So true, and only when everyone understands this problem will we begin to address our funding issues.

  28. Each cop get $2 million per year in pension benefits?
    Or are you confusing the present value of cash flows with a single cashflow?
    This will generate $2 million per year, every year, and it will increase with inflation. If the city can borrow at 2% more than inflation, then the present value of this cash-flow is $100 million, which is a lot more than the pension obligations of a single cop.

  29. I know for a fact that if the SFMTA leased out parking garages at market rates, they would make significantly more money than with these Sunday meters. Why aren’t the “market forces” people demanding transparency in how parking garages are managed?
    Speaking of Sundays: why aren’t churches charged extra for occupying a lane on a busy street?

  30. When it comes to fleecing the residents, it’s all about market forces and capitalism. Well, two can play that game. How about paying market salaries to MUNI employees? And let them use 401(K), instead of leeching off of taxpayers for their pensions!

  31. ^what makes you think that those of us arguing for market forces in parking would be against those things? Baffling.

  32. ^and would you be for “market forces” regarding MUNI and BART fares? Many here go on and on about how they “subsidize” car drivers when the facts are that MUNI riders are subsidized a lot.
    Are bike riders using public street subsidized? Are pedestrians subsidized when using sidewalks?
    Drivers paying tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge not only pay to maintain the bridge, but also have their fares go to subsidize bus and ferry transit from Marin, should tolls be lowered and used only to maintain the bridge?
    Why must car drivers be the only ones asked to sacrifice and experience “market forces?

  33. Let put meters in home garages. The days of the 1% having space for 2 cars while I live in a condo that only allows one space are over.

  34. @anon2 – We’re talking about market forces being used to curb congestion, not some weird rant about subsidization and cost recovery. If Golden Gate Bridge fares are not high enough to keep traffic flowing, then they’re not high enough. What the money collected is used for is irrelevant.
    If you want to talk about cross-subsidization of transportation types and the appropriate levels of that, that’s an entirely different conversation. I’m happy to have that one, but that’s not what this thread is about (not even close).

  35. No, we are not talking about “market forces” or controlling traffic, but instead about the SFMTA saying in their own statements both at public presentations and in their reports available online that they are using additional parking meters as a vehicle to help close their budget defecit.
    IF the SFMTA were interested in controlling parking in southeast residential neighborhoods, they could simply initiate resident parking permit sticker programs, but that will not bring in the cash that is required to fund their huge staff costs. Meters and citations are far more lucrative.
    Check out the ENUF website and the Vimeo videos of neighborhood meetings where they explain why they need to “raise more revenue”.

  36. It doesn’t concern me what SFMTA says. What concerns me is the actual impact that their actions will have. Metering parking WILL make parking more available – and in a market-friendly way, regardless of what you believe.
    Trust me, I think that the SFMTA is just as incompetent as you, but occasionally incompetent agencies do implement astoundingly good ideas, even if for the wrong reasons.

  37. We do agree @anon, metering parking will make it more available, but on residential streets, I would prefer a 2 hour time limit with the exception of those vehciles that have a neighborhood parking permit. For the record, I have one vehicle and a private garage so I am not impacted by how street parking is managed.
    My problem remains that the goal of the SFMTA is to NOT make parking more available. It is no secret that the current agenda of the SFMTA is to reduce parking throughout the city, or am I attending and viewing the wrong public meetings and SFMTA documents? The plans to remove parking along Masonic, Fell, 17th street, etc, in favor of bike lanes is not going to make parking more available or better managed.

  38. So you can illegally double park for over an hour for church on Sunday(creating bottle necks and traffic for everyone else), but you have to pay for parking at metered spots that are limited to one hour?…what ever happened to the separation of church and state?

  39. Well, we disagree there then. I am absolutely in favor of reducing the amount of parking out there – in order to reduce congestion. I simply want the parking that is out there to be available for folks to use, hence the market pricing.
    If there were a way to increase the amount of parking out there without destroying what’s nice about the city (double-decker underground roads, maybe?), I’d be all for it. I’d also be all for tolling all roads as a way to keep congestion in line, rather than limiting and market-pricing parking, but that seems to be unlikely.
    Your residential parking permit idea would be fine as long as those are market-priced as well (which they’re not now – and that causes huge problems in other neighborhoods and would here eventually).

  40. Hopefully the MTA will use those funds to replace the ancient coins-only meters around the city. Those were fine when parking was a few coins per hour but when parking is $3/hr and the largest coin denomination is still 25¢ it’s a giant pain in the arse. Who carries that much heavy metal around in their pockets?

  41. Require every new condo to include at least one parking spot, and every new business that employs more than 10 people to buy parking spots for their employees. this would curb curb congestion

  42. That’s a big inconvenience for relatively very little revenue. Sunday is usually the day when you want to relax and not care about these pesky things. Sunday used to be for family, friends, taking your time (or simply wasting it). Now it will be another day of “on the clock” living, no better than a busy Saturday.

  43. ^Inconvenience??? I can’t wait for it. Now I won’t have to circle the block for an hour on Sunday just trying to find parking. Makes Sunday much, much, much less frustrating to go out to dinner, etc.

  44. Good grief… you know, maybe if the city paved all of it’s f***ing potholes and gave me smooth streets to drive on, or maybe even a Muni system that didn’t totally suck, then maybe I wouldn’t care about meters on Sunday. But seriously? Ridiculous.

  45. “That $2M will ALMOST cover the pension obligation for ONE cop or fireman…”
    Yeah, but when that ONE cop is the ONE that saves YOUR life, or that ONE firefighter is the ONE that saves YOUR burning house, will you really care about that $2M? No, you won’t.
    Civilization ain’t free, kids. I never met a rich cop or firefighter, so let’s give it a rest.

  46. This issue comes down to a tradeoff of conveniences: those who want to stay home on Sunday and leave their cars parked at meters vs. those who want to travel somewhere. Back when most retail businesses closed for Sunday it made sense to make the meters free.
    It would be interesting to hear the perspective of a business owner who opens on Sunday and who’s patrons use metered parking.

  47. I completely agree that civilization isn’t free, but I’d put recently-retired Police Chief Heather Fong in the rich category, whether or not I or anyone else commenting on socketsite has met her.
    From Matier and Ross’ column in February 2011 when the data was released, Retiring S.F. police brass cash in on way out:

    New city records show that former Police Chief Heather Fong — who retired in 2009 — received a grand total of $528,595 in her final year.

    The goodbye check included her final year base pay of $187,875, plus $303,653 for unused vacation, sick and comp time, plus $37,067 in other pay. Now that she’s gone, she’s pulling down an annual pension of $229,500 for life.

    Former Deputy Chief Charles Keohane, who exited in 2009, received $516,118 in his final year — $325,503 from accrued vacation, sick time and premium pay.

    Another retiree, Commander Morris Tabak, clocked out with $425,558 — $173,703 in unused sick, comp and vacation time.

    Median household income in San Francisco in 2009 was between $59,000 and $73,999 according to the U.S. Census Bureau Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, Dec. 2010.
    Forget the top quintile; a household income in the range above $180,001 put one in the 95th percentile in 2009 in U.S. overall household incomes.
    I’d rather have a stand-your-ground law in effect in San Francisco rather than having to wait around for that ONE cop that might save my life in the unlikely circumstance that he or she shows up for the incident sooner than half an hour after it’s over.

  48. ^Definitely agreed that that’s absurd. Not sure what it has to do with metered parking though, which I view entirely as a way to prevent folks from hoarding prime parking spots.

  49. With the current bed bug epedemic in San Francisco taxi cabs, the poor performance of MUNI, and the fact BART does not go anywhere near my office in Marin County, I will stick to driving a car. Parking fees are a small price to pay compared to the alternatives.

  50. Building more parking spaces will increase congestion, not reduce it. More parking increases demand for car use, not the opposite. How can you believe otherwise?
    The City needs to increase the cost of subsidized parking on public property to the market value. I think that the Zone Permits should cost $500/yr. We can start by increasing the cost to $100/yr and then go up $100 a year every year thereafter. Low income residents should get one for free. This would solve the parking problem in San Francisco.
    The problem is too many cars, not too few parking spaces.

  51. An interestiing exchange from the NE Mission meeting regarding parking meter installation and restrictions.
    Both of these public speakers bring up interesting points.
    1.) Why is the SFMTA now acting as the primary planning agency of the city instead being a transit agency and fixing MUNI?
    2.) why do we have to pay millions of dollars to outside firms to sell to neighborhoods the removal of parking and installation of meters on residential streets?

  52. why do we have to pay millions of dollars to outside firms to sell to neighborhoods the removal of parking and installation of meters on residential streets?
    Because people are too short-sighted and selfish to see that market-pricing parking is better for everyone? I agree that it would be better if people simply knew this, but unfortunately they don’t, hence the massive cost to educate them.

  53. Yes anon it is a Great Leap Forward.
    Re-education centers for those intransigents would be the efficient way to get the word out.

  54. ^Are you talking about the communists resisting the market? I’d prefer to just let the market make the change, they’ll adapt just fine. No re-education needed.

  55. Agreed! Let the market make the change. If you watch the video above, the Mission neighbors are saying that neighborhood parking is taken up daily by out of town commuters driving into the city to park in the east Mission because it is FREE and not metered. They are asking to PAY for residential parking permits, and to have metered retail street parking. I think the outrage being expressed is that many NE Mission residents want to have a dialogue with the SFMTA instead of being lectured to. How much should a residential sticker be for parking on a non-commercial, non-metered street? I would pay up to $900, anything above would make me want a private garage space (which I currently have).
    Since everyone seems to be so free market, why remove parking spaces that can collect rates of upwards of $20,000 a year (when you include citations) for the city and instead hand it over FREE to bike lanes?

  56. ^I favor the market being used to allocate parking spaces, but that really has nothing to do with wanting the city to make money off the spaces. In fact, I find that abhorrent. Street-space should be used as elected officials desire (and we can elect new folks if they use the space for something not liked), and any space not available to all people all of the time should be auctioned off via a market-based process of some type, with that money being used to lower other taxes and fees.
    Ideally, this would mean a toll for using the streets to drive or bike, with an additional fee for parking, but in reality it likely means that only parking can be market priced, and that combined with limiting the amount of new parking allowed can be used as a proxy for tolling.
    And BTW, $900 for a RPP is still criminally low. The process should be to total up the number of spots available, subtract around 10% of that number, and then auction off the rest through a Dutch auction once a year. The remaining 10% is kept on hand for people to buy throughout the year at say, 20% higher than the Dutch auction price. I suspect that the true value would wind up somewhere around $2000-2500 or so.

  57. “In opening statements Supervisors Mark Farrell and Malia Cohen left no doubt as to how they feel about the SFMTA’s misguided parking and traffic management policies, and suggested that perhaps a change in priorities is needed. The SFMTA needs to fix the Muni first. They feel that SFMTA’s first priority should be to make the Muni a safe, reliable public transit system.
    Mark Farrell voiced his position against Sunday parking meters and expanding the meters into neighborhoods. He is particularly concerned about families with children and those who depend on cars, being pushed out of the city.
    Malia Cohen’s statement, “I’m looking forward to, Ed Reiskin saying, ‘I quit, you won, we’re not going to be doing parking meters,” drew a round of applause.
    David Campos got a huge audience reaction when he said, “it would be nice if Muni buses were as efficient as meter maids swooping down on expired meters with tickets.
    To which Reiskin replied, “That is a good benchmark for us to use.”
    I think the tide is turning, and it is about time!
    (Quotes partially taken from SFGate and Metermadness.)

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