Early next month Oakland’s Planning Commission is slated approve a comprehensive update of the City’s Planning Code that sets the parking requirements for new developments throughout the city, allowing buildings to be constructed with fewer off-street parking spaces.

While San Francisco has been restricting the number of off-street parking spaces developers can build in the name of reducing congestion, it hasn’t prohibited the residents in said developments from simply parking on the street, which some would argue has actually increased neighborhood congestion as a share of new residents without off-street parking add to the demand for on-street parking rather than giving up their cars.

But as part of Oakland’s overhaul, the City’s Municipal Code is proposed to be changed as well, prohibiting residents of new developments with ten or more units from qualifying for a Residential Street Parking Permit.

Which raises the question of whether or not San Francisco should, or will, follow Oakland’s lead.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by parklife

    I’ve also had a tough time getting reservations at some of my favorite restaurants. Perhaps we could consider banning all new residents from eating out?

    The idea that new residents must pay more in rent or property taxes is bad enough, but making owing an automobile impossible for some while providing inexpensive parking for others seems a little discriminatory.

    • Posted by Elitist Pig

      I’ve been eating at that restaurant longer than you have, I deserve to continue doing so without people like you making it inconvenient for me. You can eat elsewhere.

      • Posted by SFrentier

        And, your price should be controlled at 2007 prices (plus 60% of CPI for yearly increases), since you first started going there.

        Welcome to ess efff….It’s all about privilege on someone else’s dime

    • Posted by Alai

      Perhaps. But the status quo “solution” is to ban new residents entirely, and that’s a lot worse.

      • Posted by SFer

        Sonja Trauss should sue Oakland for that. Pretty discriminatory.
        I suggested this for SF last yr where there are so many new building w/ no parking spots, then all the new residents moving in and get cars and congest the ‘hood.
        Just change planning law to maintain 2:1 parking.

        • Posted by Alai

          As if 2:1 parking would solve it. There are plenty of neighborhoods in SF with 1:1 parking rules, lots of garages, and still very annoying parking. The only thing it would succeed at is restricting the amount of new housing built, and making it more expensive (which may well be the point).

          If people want to make street parking convenient, they have to stop letting it be a free-for-all. RPPs are an attempt, but they obviously fail when you issue more permits than there are spaces.

          • Posted by woolie

            LA requires at least 1.25 spaces per unit, and clearly they have no parking issues, right.

        • Posted by Bayview Rising

          I think we should restrict the number of vehicles that can be registered to a particular address. SFH get no more than 1 car with exceptions granted for a 2nd car. Or perhaps new high rises would get 0.5 registrations per unit. Etc. should be based on density. Some of the outer neighborhoods can have a dozen cars belonging to one address.

    • Posted by NoeNeighbor

      @parklife: Well most of these new developments are promoted on the basis that because they have bike parking and are near a transit line or two that none of the residents will need parking. Therefore, they won’t have a negative impact on the neighborhood etc. But ask one of the developers to actually agree to a no residential parking clause and they absolutely refuse. So, basically, they are lying and they know it.

      In areas where parking is scarce, this approach seems like a very reasonable solution. Either the new building provides adequate parking or it is set up so that the new residents won’t make the parking solution worse.

      BTW, your restaurant analogy is utterly stupid; that you bothered to make it shows that you don’t actually care about current residents or the topic.

      • Posted by parklife

        Actually I do care about the topic. A ban such as this would increase the value of my three off-street parking spaces. However, I find the tendency of Californian’s in general, and San Franciscan’s in particular, to push off the cost of public benefits on to new, often younger, residents to be abhorrent.

        And the developers are not always the one’s touting transit amenities and bike parking. The lack of off-site parking in many new development is a function of our planning department’s restrictions on parking.

    • Posted by Sabbie

      A much better analogy would be the owner of the restaurant deciding not to accept any new customers, because the crowds are out of control, and they want their long time customers and supporters to be able to get a table every now and then.

    • Posted by Sean Hussey

      Yeah, but if the restaurant (parking garage) is next to a bigger restaurant (Bart) then maybe they should restrict the number of tables (spaces) at the smaller restaurant.

  2. Posted by yip

    Yeah and what about golf tee times? And all those bull*$%* hipsters wanting to go surfing at Ocean Beach? And have you seen how crowded the fishing has become around Crissy Fields? The number of kayaks is out of control, I’m just saying…

  3. Posted by woolie

    Sounds fine to me. The overwhelming majority of Oakland multifamily projects are within blocks of BART of high-frequency bus service.

  4. Posted by Monty Burns

    Most people still need cars in the Bay Area, even with denser urban development. Stop using strident environmental agendas to trample over the basic needs of residents.

    • Posted by Matt in Uptown

      “strident environmental agendas” -what? Just put that head of yours back in the sand and let the adults handle this.

    • Posted by keenplanner

      Just not so. Get ye back to Fremont.

  5. Posted by Notcom

    Although there’s a lot to criticize about this idea, it does seem a logical followthrough that if you’re going to discourage car use by not requiring off-street parking, you not allow on-street parking in its stead. Similarly, if builders hope to cut their costs by making the streets a defacto garage for their developments, then this serves to mitigate that negative externality … I don’t think developers are prohibited from exceeding parking ratios, they’re just not required to do so.

  6. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I can see the rationale for insulating existing residents from the effects of development. However this move extends the implicit “ownership” of public streetside parking. Residential permits were the first step. Now we’re creating a system of Grandfathered-resident permits.

    No subset of society should own public parking. If someone want ownership then they should buy it and pay property taxes. Public parking should be for the general good of the general public, not a specifically selected, lucky group.

    • Posted by NoeNeighbor

      Well, effectively people will buy it. If they want parking they will have to pay for a building with parking; if parking is valuable that will cost more (which will increase property taxes).

    • Posted by SFrentier

      Maybe they can cap the number of permits, then auction them off to the highest bidders?
      Trump style!

  7. Posted by TheNewGuy

    Lawyer question – can the City change the Muni Code such that the decision to issue a parking permit to an individual is based only when his/her building was constructed?

  8. Posted by alberto rossi

    Or they could charge market rate for street parking.

    • Posted by parklife

      Yes a thousand times over!

      Market rates for street parking will solve the issue immediately and equitably. If you want to subsidize low income residents, fine, but let the market ration the limited street parking. And use the increased revenue to enhance MUNI.

      • Posted by Notcom

        You do realize, don’t you, that this is in Oakland ??

      • Posted by BobN

        Ah, yes, the “equitable” solution is to charge people for something that used to be free, especially when those people are long-time residents who probably can’t afford to buy a place, let alone one with a garage.

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          … because if something was subsidized in the past, it must continue to be subsidized forever? I’m not following that logic.

          If affordability is a problem then there’s a solution for that: direct subsidies for those in need.

          • Posted by Jake

            Keep your government hands off my streetparking

          • Posted by BobN

            Parking on the street is not some “subsidized” thing. It’s just free.

            Charging for everything lets the rich have everything at the expense of everyone else, even if you bestow subsides on a select few.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            By that logic then public schools, libraries, and parks are “just free, not subsidized”.

            Sorry BobN but street parking is a publicly owned real estate asset which has value and requires maintenance and enforcement. It has intrinsic value and costs to keep up. Oakland could turn that asset into a revenue stream. When offered at no cost, it is a subsidy.

            I’m not saying that subsidizing transportation is a bad thing, happens all most of the time. But we should know it for what it is and not fool ourselves into thinking that it is free.

          • Posted by Alai


            That makes as much sense as “keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

            If the government wasn’t around to enforce parking restrictions on those spaces for you, they’d be occupied by campers 24/7.

          • Posted by BobN

            I suspect any “maintenance” of public parking areas is more than paid for by fines for parking in the wrong place and the wrong time. If it’s a subsidy, it’s a pretty profitable one.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            Until you consider the time value of capital assets, then it is unprofitable by a long shot.

    • Posted by NextCycle

      California law prohibits this. The maximum price is limited to cost recovery.

      • Posted by parklife

        How is the cost determined? Paving cost? Street sweeping? I’m curious? And how do meters enter in to it? Are they exempt from this provision?

  9. Posted by Jake

    Oakland’s main parking problem is that not enough of the people driving by want to stop there. Maybe I’m just hardened by SF SoMa living, but I park in and around even downtown Oakland in the middle of the workday with relative ease. Cheap too. If they want to discourage street parking, then raise the price a la SFPark. Smart flexible meters >> draconian rigid laws.

    FWIW, ~65% of oakland residents with a job drive to work. It has been that high or higher for at least 50 years.

    • Posted by Jame

      The middle of the workday is a breeze because the garages handle all the demand. Try parking overnight or during and evening and it is a completely different story.

      Contrary to your uninformed opinion lots of people do go downtown for entertainment. And other areas, like the Grand Lake area, Piedmont Ave, Rockridge and the Dimond are impacted pretty much all day all the time.

      • Posted by Jake

        Sorry to park reality on your sensitivities, but I’ve never had much trouble finding parking in Oakland at night either.

        Piedmont Ave has surface parking lots, frXsakes. Dimond is a couple blocks of suburban hood. FWIW, I routinely park for free on the street in Grand Lake. Many blocks there don’t even have meters, day or nightly.

        Not sure what you think counts as “impacted” but scooting around for a few minutes to find a place within a couple blocks is de rigueur a la Oaklandystopia and other borderline urban/suburban hinterlands.

        If Oakland wants to manage street parking to ease these searches in an impactful way, then the solution is very well understood: meters priced to market and enforced. Oakland was even subsidizing the cost of the residential parking permits for years, by charging less than the cost to admin the program (insert ascii facepalm).

        FWIW, I never said people don’t “go downtown for entertainment”, contrary to your inaccurate reading. Not enough people to cause much congestion, though, traffic or parking wise, pretty much all day and all night all the time, well except for during the demonstrations. The really congestion impacted roadways in oaklandia are the freeways that carry something like a million people-trips a day to get past Oakland as fast as they can without ever parking on the surface streets or the garages or the many surface parking lots that almost always have vacancies in and around downtown Oakland.

  10. Posted by BobN

    What the City should do is commission a survey of the projects built in the last five to ten years and see how many cars are actually owned by the residents of these new complexes that are supposedly cutting down on congestion by offering far fewer inside parking places.

    I suspect the result will be that the policy is an utter failure and has made many neighborhoods worse places to live.

    • Posted by NoeNeighbor

      The City will get to that survey right after they do a survey on who actually benefits from rent control. Some truths in this City are too sacred to be questioned.

    • Posted by Alai

      If you measure neighborhoods’ quality of life by how easy it is to find street parking, you may be right.

      If you measure it by any other method, you’re probably wrong.

      • Posted by anon

        It all depends on how elastic the demand for car use is vs the cost/inconvenience. If car ownership has been significantly reduced due to the increased inconvenience of not having on site parking, then some groups might consider that a success. If people really need/want their cars and there was little reduction in car ownership, yet all car owners in the area were inconvenienced due to increased congestion that’s probably a failure. It’s possible even that in that case total miles driven increased due to drivers circling around looking for parking.

        And if it is true that the demand for parking is fairly inelastic, then that tells you that going further down the path of trying to reduce car usage via increasing the pain of using a car is going to be very difficult. And as exhibited here if you need a very high pain level (no on site parking and no street parking) to try and make an impact and you only apply it to newcomers, your going to have a wide gap between new and existing residents. And that seems very likely to cause strife.

        • Posted by Amewsed

          From a developer’s perspective, it would make economic sense to create units with mass appeal to the most amount of potential buyers, not some narrow group of buyers. This isn’t NYC where you can sell $10 Million dollar condos without parking. If these condos. are priced at $1 Million or close to it, who wants to buy it w/o parking? Makes sense just to spend a bit more and get a house with your own garage and driveway parking. I can’t see how buyers at this price point want to take BART or AC transit to get to where they need to go.

          • Posted by soccermom

            “From a developer’s perspective, it would make economic sense to create units with mass appeal to[the loan appraisers for] the most amount of potential buyers”

            How much does a parking space appraise for? $40K? $50K?
            12′ * 18′ + (rounding, guessing) 200sf of driveway to access the space = 416sf.
            $50K/416sf = $120psf.

            Or, living space at $300/500/700psf? Appraisers like living space. Easy choice.

          • Posted by BobN

            But it isn’t “living space” if it’s two stories underground.

      • Posted by BobN

        What neighborhood can you point to that has benefited from the restriction on off-street parking?

  11. Posted by NextCycle

    San Francisco already has buildings that exclude residents from street parking as a one-time permitting exception. Moving forward, the SFMTA is looking into adding street permit restrictions on certain new buildings but the legislation is not fleshed out yet.

    • Posted by EcceMorons

      Could you let me know who is working on this legislation? I’ve been barking about this issue to a few politicos, but maybe I haven’t been talking to the right one, because I’ve been met with glazed-over looks of non-comprehension.

      This is a serious issue, as street parking is at a severe premium in many neighborhoods where large development are being built with either no parking or 1 space for every 2 units, and it’s having the opposite effect of what was intended – causing more traffic congestion rather than less, as people circle the block a dozen times looking for a street parking spot, rather than just driving into a driveway.

      Thanks in advance for the info.

  12. Posted by Amewsed

    Why not mandate people living in certain areas who are obese from drinking soda and/or eating junk food to walk only regardless of weather and distance? Kill two birds with one stone. Solves the transportation congestion and obesity issues. Come to think of it, these people can also double up as a volunteer police force walking the beat.

    I am often dismayed by the over-regulation of private lives.

    • Posted by woolie

      How is the regulation of publicly owned street right of way over-regulation of private lives?

  13. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    How about banning the commonsensically challenged bureaucrats, who thought limiting off-street parking would reduce car ownership, from parking anywhere within city limits? Or better yet, ban them from setting foot anywhere near SF or Oakland.

  14. Posted by Oh Dear

    When i grew up in SF we were a family of five with one car. Today there are five unrelated adults living in an apartment with five cars. Answer? Only allow families in the city.

    • Posted by Mark

      I really do hope you’re kidding.

      It’s the Bay Area. A lot of people drive because of their live/work situation and given the high cost of living situation and poor transit investment expect more people to drive and drive longer distances.

    • Posted by BobN

      So that’s how they’re going to sneak polygamy into the culture…

  15. Posted by Jimmy The House Flipper

    Ahhh…the sweet smell of OVERTLY DISCRIMINATORY LAWS AGAINST NEWCOMERS. Is that California I smell?

  16. Posted by Charlie in SF

    I’d love to see contractor street parking (you know those signs taking up multiple spaces for months on end; oftentimes empty three days a week) reformed. Or at least the price of the permit raised to reflect the true cost of the parking space

  17. Posted by Sabbie

    The problem here is the spin put on these new buildings by the powers that be and their cheerleaders. TRANSIT FRIENDLY! WALKSCORE 93! URBAN TRANSIT DISTRICT! “RTO” zoning. People won’t need their cars so we’ll just reduce parking requirements!

    Well the reality is that people who can afford to pay a million dollars for a condo want their cars. And they’ll probably have two cars per unit, not just one. And they’ll park them on the street, and they’ll drive them plenty often. So yes, if you really want to reduce cars in these areas you are going to need not just the CARROT of being transit friendly but you also need THE STICK of harsh regulations!

  18. Posted by Sara Short

    Ayn Rand was right !

  19. Posted by JustJake

    How about we cap the number of residents allowed to vote? If you’re a new resident, you won’t be allowed to vote for the first 5 years. I just can’t get enough of these localized lifestyle governmental regulations. More please.

    • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

      I have some more ideas — new residents:
      May not use the parks or public tennis courts;
      May only visit museums during weekdays between 10:00 – 2:00 (but not in summer);
      May not call 911 in case of emergency;
      May not go to the Stern Grove concerts;
      May not request any building permits;
      May not use the courts (unless you are a criminal defendant);
      May not visit the public libraries;
      May not ride MUNI;
      May not fly in or out of SFO;
      May not drink any Hetch-Hetchy water.

      But, of course, you must still pay your share of taxes to maintain those public roads and other services (more , really, because of Prop 13).


      • Posted by Sabbie

        The city planners are responsible for making sure the city runs smoothly. As new residents come in, they either need to expand the existing services to keep up with demand, or figure out a system to dole out the limited resources. In the case of street parking it can’t be expanded much, so they will have to limit access to it.

        I think if a someone buys into a “transit friendly” building then it’s fair for them to take the hit. If they don’t like it, they can choose the Outer Sunset or Portola instead.

        • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

          Should they still have to pay taxes to maintain all those street parking spaces that they are forbidden to use?

          I’m completely with you on the need to expand services to accommodate new residents. I have not seen much of a plan for this in SF, and thus am (at present) just fine with the restrictive building policies until that gets worked out. Yeah, I know that just makes things more expensive. But that is the lesser evil imho.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            The question of taxes is not that simple. They are not forbidden from using the spaces, the parking spaces can also be used for shopping etc and not just residential storage. So, how much does the maintenance of the space cost, how much of that money comes from the parking permits, how much from meters and tickets, and how much from the general fund? And what about people who don’t even own a car? And what about out of towners who use the spaces? And what about people who don’t own a car but use Zipcar sometimes? Point being, you’re never going to make taxes 100% fair.

  20. Posted by TheNewGuy

    I have to be a complete cynic, but I went to the Oakland Residential Parking Permit website and there is one very large loophole in this whole thing – Handicap parking permit. One note from your doctor and you are good to go. From the website:

    “In an area that indicates it requires a resident or merchant permit for as long as you wish. There is no time limit with a DP placard, DP license plates or DV license plates.”

    • Posted by Emanon

      That’s a state-wide “loophole” not one specific to Oakland. From the California DMV:

      “Disabled Person Parking Privileges
      Once you have a valid DP placard, DP plates, or DV plates, you may park:
      • In parking spaces with the International Symbol of Access (wheelchair symbol).
      • Next to a blue curb authorized for persons with disabilities parking.
      • Next to a green curb (green curbs indicate limited time parking) for as long as you wish. There is no time limit with a DP placard, DP license plates, or DV license plates.
      • In an on-street metered parking space at no charge.
      • In an area that indicates it requires a resident or merchant permit.”

  21. Posted by Bayview Rising

    There should be no public parking within 1 mile of a sports stadium. Any additional public transit infrastructure costs to support that should be born by the stadium owner. The amount of traffic that results from a giants game is insane; I can’t even imagine when we have two stadiums a half mile apart from each other with events on the same night. That’s chaos.

Comments are closed.

Recent Articles