April 28, 2010

Residential Parking Permits: Good Or Bad?

We've been meaning to cover this topic for months--do residential parking permits help or hurt parking in Noe Valley and elsewhere? This comment from cr sums up the issue nicely:
I'm interested in this idea that blocks that opt into the permit zoning are being "privatized" (Anon@11:37). Is that the right way to think about it? Street space is a valuable public commodity that "we" (the city public via our elected government) have to decide how to share. In neighborhoods where cars outnumber parking spaces, we have to allocate that scarce resource somehow. Residential permit zones encourage some kinds of parking over others, but I don't really see it as "privatization." It's public space that we agree to share in a different way.

Neighborhoods like the Castro, with similar population density to Noe Valley, are almost entirely covered with permit zones -- far from the commercial center -- while Noe Valley has big holes. (The map is here[PDF].)

If you live adjacent to a permit zone, you can get together with your neighbors and expand the zone through a petition. Ross, you suggest that's "exacerbating the problem," but couldn't it also be part of the solution? It's a dense, urban neighborhood with parking capacity above 95% on many blocks. Is it time for all of central Noe Valley to be a permit zone?

I don't have a fixed opinion on this. I'm genuinely interested to hear more. Up where I'm at (23rd & Sanchez) we're sandwiched between the Castro and Noe Valley permit zones while being part of neither, and parking is much more scarce than it was when I lived in a residential zone in the Castro. So it's a salient issue for me...
It takes a "petition signed by more than fifty percent of the households on each proposed block" (owners or renters; one signature per household) to apply for a permit. A rubber-stamp hearing makes it happen, and weeks later signs go up and fees for parking are collected. There is no master plan.

The fee for a residential parking permit sticker (should you be so lucky as to live on a restricted block) is currently $96/year. You cannot apply for a sticker unless you live on such a block. Around the corner? Too bad.

And if those people who signed the petition move out in 6 months? Good luck getting rid of the permit area on your block.

So...good or bad?


cr said...

Another thing, looking at that map: nowhere else in the city is the permit zoning as patchy as it is in Noe Valley. In most places, you see colored areas that conform with core neighborhoods and topography. In Noe Valley, and in particular in my microhood on 23rd St., the blue-red-white divisions are wacky.

CharleyZ said...

We "went permit" on our street just a few months ago and the change was stunning. Before, contractors would park trucks on our street, and leave them week to week as satellite storage/offices, returning for tools but leaving the truck there. It was becoming impossible to park for our residents. I resisted the permit process initially because I also thought it felt "less neighborly", but the truth is that the ones who are spoiling the whole balance aren't neighbors at all.
Now, our street is easy to park on, much more open, and seems cleaner. I'm very happy with the change.

Nelson said...

It's not an accident a lot of the blocks near the J-Church are permit-only. The little gaps on Church itself are where there's parking meters.

Andy said...

I think the strongest case to be made for permit zones is for neighborhoods that are near transit lines. Without them, the streets becomes a free "park and ride", which isn't right.

Anonymous said...

I lived in an area where parking permit/stickers were for NIGHT TIME parking. That means for the RESIDENT to park overnight in front of their own house.
That option, to me, is a serious problem as it - indeed - privatize public space.

Day time? who cares. Either you commute by car thus you are NEVER impacted by the zone. Either you stay home and pay your fee and are very glad that you can - again - park in front of your own house. ((for less than spending $200.000 to add your own garage)).

we are in a 2 hours zone. and I have to say I love it love it love it. I'm SAHM and I can have anybody over at any time of the day (contractor, friends, family) - and they can ALWAYS find a parking spot for 2 hours within 50 yards of the house.
Even when one side is street cleaning, it doesn't create a nightmare.

furthermore, I do check a lot on the cars in the street, and I have to say that there are at least 3 businesses that would have a SERIOUS problem if our street was not securing some short term parking... ie people couldn't go to those businesses (I cant' give details but for a few activities, you need tehe car to go to, come back dur to the nature of the business). And for me, having thriving businesses around is priceless (foot traffic, safety, cleanliness etc).

if there is one bad side of parking zones? $96 is a ridiculous price to pay ((compared to $50/month for night parking in previous town)).
and it doesn't encourage people to CLEAN and USE their own garage ((when would we have the few K fine for an unused garage?))
and it certainly does not encourage people to add a garage - which, btw and thanks to a sweet law in San Francisco, secures your OWN PRIVATE parking spot as you and only you can park there.

Ross said...

My point on the other post was that having some longer term open parking for people to use is a good thing and converting everything to two hour makes this impossible. Those living on open streets are severely punished by other blocks becoming zoned because you are not allowed to get a permit unless you actually live on a zoned block yet where you do live is open season.

I appreciate that if the car is being used for going to work then there's less of an issue (though even still the zones run till 9 so if you do happen to return home at 6 you risk ticketing). From the perspective of using the car in the middle of the week it's a huge hassle and we've received hundreds of dollars of fines in the last year because the policing has picked up here and if you drop the kids off to school, come back, park, and miss the time you get fined and they're ticketing at this point for not changing blocks (i.e. if you park on a block and then two hours later move further up the block you can still be ticketed).

While the permit cost may be in question by some I'd gladly pay this rather than the extortionate fines. It would seem that the ability to purchase a zoned permit if you live within 2 blocks of a zoned region is a reasonable compromise that would resolve much of this and I'd have to think would have helped limit some of the zone escalation we've seen recently. If you're not within 2 blocks of a zoned area then you've got 9 square blocks of unlimited parking which seems enough to work with.

When you call them the city say they don't care about zoning it's that the residents request it so if we take them at their word (oh trusting fool) then they shouldn't have a problem here. To contradict another post, from my conversation with the city on the phone it takes only 10 signatures, not half the residents to have a block zoned, at least that's what I was told.

Does anyone here have any thoughts on whether this would work? Have we hit the point where we have a nice balance of zoned / unzoned already? Who would this be raised with?

Anonymous said...

Can I, as a Noe Valley resident whose block was recently privatized, re-petition my neighbors to have the forced permitting removed, and expect it to happen if more than fifty percent of the households on my block also want it removed?


Isn't that "democracy" only working in one direction, then - that of greater government largess?

Nicole said...

As someone who lives on a metered block of 24th St., I get really nervous about all the permit parking blocks that are creeping up in Noe. Residents who live on a street with meters can't get a permit to park on nearby permitted streets, unless we get special dispensation from the city. A friend of mine, who lived on Haight St., petitioned the city to get a permit--and collected 50+ signatures--but the city denied it.

Parking is a complicated issue; what happens on one block affects the surrounding blocks. It's frustrating that the solutions are handled block-by-block instead of neighborhood-by-neighborhood.

Irene Annes said...

I'd already been wondering .. since the City needs the money, and we're supposed to be "transit first," -- why don't we just turn the whole city into permitted parking like this? From the map, something like 2/3 or 3/4 of the city is free parking. That's probably a few hundred thousand cars, which at $96/year each is tens of millions of dollars a year available for Muni! We can fix all of Muni's problems with this one simple action.

Anonymous said...

The following notes were compiled six years ago for use in a letter submitted to the city opposing residential parking permits in Noe Valley:

1. As both a community member and friend of local merchants, I think Residential Parking Permits are a bad idea:
1.1. Community Member
1.1.1. Not inconvenient to park today Easier to park now than five years ago Visiting family and friends can park near my home
1.1.2. Another city tax veiled as a convenience Permits costly: $27 each, with fees scaling considerably for additional vehicles Highly Regressive Rich people need to drive less than the rest of us do Rich people have garages and the rest of us don’t
1.1.3. Privacy encroachment City will now be able to compile, use and sell consumer information gathered on its residents E.g., crosstabulating zip code by vehicle type makes for extremely valuable data to automobile manufacturers and insurance companies
1.2. Friend of Merchants
1.2.1. Want outsiders to come spend their money in Noe Valley for longer than 2 hours per visit
1.2.2. Know customers and employees rely on parking - let’s not scare them away to other nearby neighborhoods that don’t have parking permit requirements or an egregious number of expensive parking meters

2. Taking a step back, the city of San Francisco:
2.1. Recently increased parking meter fees between 33-200% and installed thousands of new parking meters, including several dozen in Noe Valley
2.2. Is aggressively enforcing newly-tightened sidewalk driveway restrictions and levying increased fines against “violators”
2.3. Continues its practice of mechanical street cleaning at the significant cost and inconvenience of residents
2.4. Has gone wild over parking fees in the last five years:
2.4.1. FY 2002 parking citation fees totaled $120M, or nearly 17% of the city’s general fund revenues
2.4.2. Up 50% from fees of $59M just three years before
2.4.3. Equals $150 in parking tickets per resident every year, not including any of the state’s registration fees
2.4.4. Easily makes us one of the costliest cities and states to own a car nationwide, even though our residents are suffering disproportionately from a massive economic downturn
2.5. Favors the Residential Permit Parking Program
2.5.1. Offers a staggering 17X return on expenditure according to DPT’s latest Annual Report
2.5.2. Truly “Easy Money,” requiring virtually no startup or maintenance costs

3. As fair-minded citizens and public policy makers, our job includes:
3.1. Looking for ways to balance automobile, public, pedestrian and pedal transit, and local government, that work better for everyone, which Residential Parking Permits do not do
3.2. Finding effective tools to discourage people from commuting and encourage people to use public transit, which Residential Parking Permits do not do
3.3. Curbing our city’s unprecedented reliance on historically ancillary revenues, which Residential Parking Permits do not do
3.4. Acting in the best interests of our communities like Noe Valley, which Residential Parking Permits do not do
3.5. Hasn’t this already gone too far? Let’s not repeat our mistakes of the past by hurting those who most need help - average residents like us

What happened to the permit effort that these notes were drafted to oppose?

Permits were quietly made mandatory a few weeks after the city supervisors declared a moratorium on the permit process at a public hearing, where they also declared the matter
open to further public input for an additional six months before any decisions would be made.

So much for "our" supervisors keeping their word.

cr said...

I'm amazed that people think $96 is an exorbitant price or government largess. When you park your car on the street, you're taking a share of a valuable and scarce public commodity. A parking space is valued upwards of $2400 a year in this city. $96 seems like a great deal to me.

cr said...


Interesting point. The city policy says "Residents on a metered block may petition to have their addresses be included as part of a residential permit parking area; however, a petition for an unmetered block must also be submitted at the same time. This requirement is designed to increase the overall number of permit parking spaces in the area, making it feasible to allow addresses on a metered block to be included as part of a residential permit parking area."


So it seems like you can get your block added to the zone so you can get a permit. You just need to get together with another block adjacent to the zone. Get 50% of household signatures on both blocks and use the city's petition form. Maybe your friend on Haight didn't follow the city guidelines?


This rule would seem to imply that the city will never allow residents of nearby blocks to get a permit without turning their own block into a permit zone, because otherwise they put too great a load on the neighboring permit zone without increasing available permit parking spaces. I assume the city has done parking counts and studies to back that up.

Anonymous said...

With 280,000 parking spaces on San Francisco streets and some 650,000 cars registered to its residents, is it fair my permit-only street spaces are usually only half occupied?

murphstahoe said...

Anon - without addressing your question, your stats are way off. The registered car number is around 450,000, and there are more spaces than cars.

The problem being that the spaces and cars aren't uniformly distributed, nor is their usage.

Anonymous said...

>>I'm amazed that people think $96 is an exorbitant price or government largess.

Condescending and diversionary argument.

Again, should the street permitting process - as recognized today - apply to both the installation and removal of the policy?

If only to the installation, how do you suggest permitting be removed if that's what the people want?

Anonymous said...

Indeed, there are only some 469,484 cars, motorcycles and trucks registered in San Francisco. Thanks for the correction. http://www.sfcarfree.org/transit.php

There are, however, only some 280,000 street spaces in San Francisco. This does not include garage spaces. Some numbers on various kinds of parking spaces in San Francisco as of last month: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?blogid=55&entry_id=60261

Nicole said...


Thanks for looking that up! All the non-metered blocks around Haight were already permit-only when my friend applied. That's probably why she couldn't get a permit for where she lived. Well, she could have, if she had chosen to jump through that extra bureaucratic hoop.

If anyone on Vicksburg or Sanchez is thinking about submitting an application to have their block "go permit," please let me know: nsolis@gmail.com. :-)

cr said...


Since you seem to be directly addressing me, I'll respond. I think the whole thing should be master planned rather than piecemeal. But yes, if we're going to have a piecemeal addition process I would also support a piecemeal subtraction process. Maybe it should be a little higher than 50% so the city is not just putting up and taking down signs every three months when one household moves in or out. (I would want to hear from residents of blocks where a majority don't want the permit zone so I know this is an actual rather than hypothetical problem.)

p.s. I'll apologize for the condescension and drop the amazement. But $96 is a small fraction of the price of owning and operating a car and does not come close to capturing the value of a public on-street parking space. I do think it's regressive, however. I would support subsidies based on income for it.

murphstahoe said...

Regarding the $96, I think the first author who said it was a "ridiculous price to pay" was implying that this price is very low, not very high.

cr said...

Yes, thanks, murph, I misread that.

ardnas said...

I've had the same experience as CharleyZ. Back in 2004 or so our block petitioned to be added to the Z permit zone. It's made a huge difference. Before, people who didn't live anywhere near here were leaving large trucks and even a school bus on our block for a week at a time, only moving them for street cleaning.

A high percentage of homes on our block do not have garages, so we depend on street parking. The restrictions end at 6 pm, so people who use their cars every day to commute often don't bother getting the permits. It's all worked out very well.

Anonymous said...

My husband & I just bought a car & I got the permit from the city yesterday. We live on Castro St. There are no restrictions [besides street cleaning] in from of out place. Have the block down it is metered. I was still able to get one because the neighboring streets have "S" permits. The restriction might have changed. It doesn't hurt to call again to see if you're eligible.

Anonymous said...


Ross said...

@Anon 4:41 Hmmm.... I just called a couple of weeks ago and was told no. Then again, that was also the woman who told me I only needed 10 signatures for a permit change.

@cr Honestly I wouldn't assume that the city has done any such study at all. If on average there are more spots than cars from street and garages combined then with an increase in permit areas will come a greater dilution of spot availability in permit areas so they should be able to accommodate. And again, they are in a position to use the spots in non-zoned too, should it be the case that those who have zones get timed for two hours in non-zoned areas :)? If they had done a study then any increase in permit areas would require a re-evaluation surely? By the lack of agreement maybe I'm the only one who thinks this would allow a nice balance of zoned / unzoned while still allowing people who live very much in the neighbourhood to share in parking.

Charles said...

How would this work for visitors or partners that live in surrounding cities? Until the high speed rail is built, a car is one of the best ways to get to the City.

This could have the effective of driving tourist dollars away.

Does anyone know how long it takes to get a permit starting from when you move? My girlfriend applied for her new CA license 5 months ago, and still has not received the documentation necessary for a permit.

I believe Sasalito uses day or week permits, but they are not much cheaper than garage parking (well, on the order of $10/day).

Erina said...

Nice timing. I've got a petition in hand for 23rd Street between Sanchez & Vicksburg. Parking is painful during the day. We are renters with one car that we use responsibly and have no garage. We take Muni, ride our bikes and use Caltrain. Between street cleaning & permit parking around us, we have a hard time finding a spot to leave our car for a day or two. More permit parking & more paying muni riders help solve multiple problems.

You'll be seeing me with a clipboard and a pen.

Nicole said...


That's the frustrating thing! I take Muni EVERYWHERE. But I'm in a band, and I need my car to get to practices and gigs. People like us who have one car (that we use responsibly) pay double: for parking permits and for Muni passes.

cr said...

@Erina - Hi, neighbor. I'm on your block, north side of the street. Are you thinking of joining the S zone or Z zone?

@Ross - I wouldn't say lack of agreement. I'm open to the idea. I would be worried about the load it puts on the permit zones, and I would like to see some science or case studies on it. If SF hasn't considered it rigorously, surely other cities have... That said, I think it would be a hard campaign to change that rule & I'm not sure it's better than just expanding the permit zones to cover the areas of Noe Valley where there is a need. Total coverage seems to work fine in the Castro.

@Charles - You can get temporary permits (for new residents) and visitor permits (friends, family, rental car). I'll be the first to admit the process of getting a visitor permit is not super convenient for people like me who don't own a car but occasionally rent one and need to park it on the street for a few days. But it is possible. Cost ranges from $33 for 2 weeks to $81 for 8 weeks. http://www.sfmta.com/cms/pperm/13442.html

Ross said...

@cr yeah, I guess it all comes down to whether it's a good idea to have unzoned parking or not. I kind of like it but then again, I want it all :)

Charles said...


Thank you! As I don't have a car, I haven't done enough investigating yet.

Anonymous said...

Overnight hypocrisy alerts:

>>I was still able to get one because the neighboring streets have "S" permits.

Doesn't that invalidate the only reason parking permits are issued in the first place - so that you can find parking where you live?!

>>Between street cleaning & permit parking around us, we have a hard time finding a spot to leave our car for a day or two. You'll be seeing me with a clipboard and a pen.

Ah yes, the "because we hate everyone around us doing it, we'll just do it too!" rationale. Most sensible.

Please, people, think about the eventual consequences of your actions, from an intended results standpoint, from a neighborhood economic standpoint, and even from a perceived fairness standpoint, to the extent this last argument resonates with any of you.

Anonymous said...

How many cars are visiting San Francisco at any given time, and how long do they stay on average?

These numbers would help expand an otherwise myopic discussion around citywide parking permits.

Anonymous said...

What is a "public" street"?

Anonymous said...

Will I need a permit to enjoy the forthcoming public plaza for more than two hours at a time?

What if so many other people enjoy the plaza that my access to it is reduced?

Should residents who live on Noe Street have special access to the plaza because they live nearby it?

Someone, please help me understand the true meaning of public!!

Anonymous said...

Oh wait! The answer is right before our very eyes...

We just need to issue special resident cards to anyone verified to be living in Noe Valley that will provide them with extended access privileges to the public plaza once it opens - problem solved, for the low, low price of...

Anonymous said...

Wait - what do you mean the plaza is still crowded?! I just shelled out a hundred bucks to sit here for 121 minutes in a row. You must be wrong.

How could my buying a plaza permit not reduce the overcrowding at the plaza? Are there really that many people who also like plazas, too?!

We need to find a new solution here, but I'm stuck with this worthless plaza permit in the meantime...

Anonymous said...

One thing that I will say - I actually think the permits encourage public transportation. Forget Noe, but take like North Beach or another 'hood'. Part of the reason folks don't drive and take the bus to places like that are because you cannot park, or cannot park for long periods of time, over there. Thus, I always take the bus.

Another benefit: this discourages folks who have more than 1 car from 'littering' the street with their spare cars as the cost of car ownership essentially goes up.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I see your point. It's probably better to force outsiders to bus in to Noe Valley anyway, if it lets us park here more easily.

If increasing the economic burden of owning multiple cars is your thing, why not get behind progressive car registration rates - instead of taking it out on all drivers, especially those from outside of your neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't like permits as a means to an end because it pits block versus block until the whole city is permitted. I also don't like permits as an end unto themselves because when taken to their logical conclusion they don't solve the problem of parking oversaturation.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, I see your point. It's probably better to force outsiders to bus in to Noe Valley anyway, if it lets us park here more easily."

Can you explain your use-case? the permits allow 2 hr parking w/out a permit. If anything, I've noticed it's easier to park for 2 hrs in more spots in Noe / on streets where permits are in existance. Or are you saying you should be allowed to drive in and park all day in Noe at no cost?

Anonymous said...

I already am "allowed" to drive in and park all day in Noe at no cost. The combination of my driver's license, registered automobile and private garage afford me that privilege.

As for the rest of you, you must all pay to park, I say... and pay dearly for every minute you wish to intrude upon my block for over two hours!!

Here's a fun one: How about micro-permitting, where one can pay disproportionally large sums of money to outright reserve any formerly public parking spaces in front of their houses on a 24/7 basis?

The city could establish a new "gold zone" curb demarcation policy, thus fulfilling the owner's dueling desires to scare prospective cars away - safely - while simultaneously letting all his neighbors understand his disproportionately high wealth?

This thing has "win-win" written all over it, from an implementation standpoint...

Anonymous said...

What happens when everyone has a permit?

Anonymous said...

I am still confused by your point. So in your view, you would argue Noe and all other neighborhoods in all of SF should not have permits?

Taken to an extreme: So then I could drive my car into North Beach and walk to my nearby job, every day. Maybe leave it there overnight now / then when I take a business trip. Awesome, I don't need to take public transportation much anymore. Sorry to the NB resident that you can't find parking in your 'hood anymore, a 'hood I'm not connected to in any way/shape/form. Hope I don't leave any trash around my car.

Or is there some sort of magic 'density' figure that you would use to determine if folks can establish permits or not?

Anonymous said...

Correct, no permits in all of San Francisco. Indeed - even in North Beach! Imagine the utter madness of being able to park there for over two hours at a time! The thought really is a shivering one.

Where does this notion that parking permits are somehow preventing an avalanche of car abandonments from occurring come from?

Anecdotally, my block in Noe has never experienced a car abandonment in over fifteen years, pre or post permitting.

Please stop with the ghettoization fearmongering. It's rather unbecoming of open minded Noe residents such as ourselves.

cr said...

"Imagine the utter madness of being able to park there for over two hours at a time!"

If you could find a space. Which you couldn't.

Anonymous said...

By implication, isn't the effectiveness of parking permitting directly proportional to the difficulty of obtaining a parking permit? Of course it is.

Does this "richest man parks first" formula really serve us best?

Think about how this all works, or doesn't...

murphstahoe said...

You guys are really making me think about buying a bike. I should look into that.

Anonymous said...

We are all very fortunate to have two wonderful bike shops right here in Noe Valley.

Anonymous said...

Horray, you made your point.
So...I happen to disagree. However, I would be interested to hear from someone who knows a lot more on this stuff. Do any major US cities not have a permit-parking process in place?

Personally, I would like some sort of democratic process in place to decide vs. having a city-manager-role paid to decide this type of thing (at least at the micro level). It would be great if that democratic process allowed each neighborhood or block to decide.
Oh wait, that is what is in place.

I can tell you from experience that when our block went through this process, it was refreshingly democratic (and it did take months of discussion, not a quick/fast thing at all). People emailed, they met at folks' house at night, and even the pro's saw the con's viewpoints and vica versa. In the end, the block decided to go forward. The non-garage-owners in the hood were having a tough time finding spots to park as folks would drive in to our block, park, and then walk to the J-Church. That, and the amount of construction vehicles that would just stay on the block for a week at a time. But it was a close vote.

I definitely agree that it should be just as easy to 'remove' the permit via vote. Maybe a block should re-vote every 3 yrs or something.

Lastly, to your 'fear-mongering', give me a break. I explicitly called out my example as an 'extreme' one. Speaking of fear-mongering, I have to almost applaud (in laughing) in your use of 'avalanche of abandonment' in your reply back to me - wow..no fear-mongering there? I was just going on a business trip in my example.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for recognizing the point, even if in the gutsy form of openly admitting a preference for paying money to have disproportionate access to public resources near where you live. May this concept go far in your ideal land of civic high-mindedness.

Thanks, too, for recognizing the current system is flawed, despite promoting its otherwise perceived effectiveness. Perhaps with just one or two additional "fairness filters" - making it easy to remove permitted blocks, holding regular re-votes, prioritizing spaces by proximity to property - we really will have a balance of attributes that perfectly reflect the complex makeup of needs this problem represents.

In fact, the more I think about it, you might really be on to something here with your concept of layering a few more conditional possibilities onto the problem. Great idea.

It must then make sense to you, too, to increase the cost of permits beyond the 20%+ they were just increased – by maybe another 20% or so, just for numerical balance - so that we might conduct a feasibility study to further explore this concept of even fairer parking?!

It really does feel like we're just a few additional fairness filters away from tweaking the permitted public parking concept to the point of easing car density problems citywide...

Anonymous said...

Haha. Well played, weird troll.

Anonymous said...

So quickly..
if the costs get to high for the permit, the block could vote against it. I know I would. Was that too complex for you?

I'm still trying to figure out how your solution works better, ie, no permits anywhere in the city.
I think parking would be impossible in some areas if that was done. I think there is no way people would vote / go for that (unless you say you don't let them choose and deem it a public good). How does your solution work better?

On that note, I assume you also want to see all parking meters removed from the city, right? How could you not? Those meters take away your free public right to park where *you* want. How dare them make it so that the rich can only park in front of Tuggy's.

Carrie said...

Wow! What a lively discussion! I can't help but agree with the person that said eventually this will turn into special gold painted curbs for those willing to pay the most. Is that okay? It will bring money to the City, which in turn benefits everyone, right?

It just seems pretty me-first to say "I have a tough time parking, so I will turn my block into a tough place for other people to park so it becomes easier for me to do so."

That said, I'm sure my attitude will quickly change as more and more blocks surrounding me become permitted and I find it more difficult to park near my house. From the sound of it here, I'm probably only a few months away from becoming one of the people gathering up signatures to close off my block too. :-)

Anonymous said...

I probably won't be getting any popularity points here... I live in a house without a garage and can't afford $250K to put one in. With 2 babies and 2 flights of stairs, I'd gladly pay mucho bucks for a "resident curbside parking". I only need the parking spot until the kids can get down the stairs themselves.

Anonymous said...

Mechanical street cleaning, parking meters and parking zones are some of the other levers this city uses to control where people can park on public streets, for how long they can park there, and what it will cost them to do so.

By my informal observations, what tends to happen is permitted public parking is only successful at the expanding edges of a permit area, where some cars - qualifying and paying resident's cars - seeking parking spaces gain a temporary advantage over other cars - including other resident's and visitor's cars - who are seeking those same spaces but can no longer park in them.

Once permitted public parking has completely filled an area, the availability of spaces in that area reaches an equilibrium and then start decreasing again, as newly established parking conveniences enter into people's transportation considerations. Judging by neighborhoods like North Beach - which has had absolute permit public parking for some time yet is somehow always difficult to park in - the system remains to be, how shall we say, perfected?! (It's the "Fairness Filters," stupid!)

For some reason though, and at the encouragement of particularly car sensitive constituents, city managers continue imposing increasingly higher costs on all local drivers and increasingly difficult demands on all outsiders in the name of freeing up public parking spaces for us all, regardless if they only benefit those nearest car sensitive constituents by very policy design. With the number of public parking spaces a constant and the number of cars the only variable, demand has nowhere to go but up given an ongoing desire to have cars.

That's where the levers back come into play, like those already mentioned. And even other ones, like sponsoring bike sharing programs, and providing tax breaks for households without cars, and easing restrictions on installing garages in private properties, and improving Muni and Bart, and opening more public parking garages and lots. Hell, maybe even increasing car registration fees at a progressive rate for multiple cars per household or owner.

Anything that encourages alternatives to increased parking demand and doesn't merely shuffle cars around for a fee. Maybe even things that discourage driving if they are applied in a more uniformly progressive - and less divisive us/them - manner. Most importantly, though, only doing things that actually work as intended when applied, and avoiding costly, inconvenient and permanent legacies when they don't.

On a side note, can anyone name a city fee that has been eliminated this century?

Anonymous said...

We live on an unpermitted block of Jersey St, and it's clearly an issue for us since the other permit-only blocks have driven everyone to our block - it's time for us to join the club.

Anonymous said...

I think I get it now.

Everyone wants to park on their street. Not around the block. So they are very protective of residential spots on their street.

But everyone wants the ability to park on someone else's block when they want to. Trying to protect "your parking" is seen as bad form - because it isn't really "Your street", you just live on it.

So when the city wants to take 4 spots off of "your street" that you can use as overnight parking, because they are metered during the day so that nobody can just leave there car there for days at a time, you can't just say "Hey man, I want to be able to park in front of my house, don't take out these spots". You have to say, "Hey man, this is going to hurt businesses!"

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt a domino effect to residential parking permits. A few years ago I moved to a street without RPPs but that was surrounded by streets with RPPs. The effect was that I could not park on my street (because all sorts of people from outside the neighborhood were parking there -- contractors, classical car collectors, etc.) but could not park on any of the streets nearby. So we worked the process and made the street an RPP area.
It is an imperfect solution, but it was better than the alternative.

Anonymous said...

What is "the alternative" as you see it?

Nicole said...

The alternative is not having any place to park your car during the day.

One thought that's been troubling me is the perception of who's parking on a street. For example, one commenter mentioned that people were parking on their street, then taking Muni. To me, that seems like a strange thing to do. And then I realized that on the mornings when I move my car for street cleaning, then head directly to the J, I probably look like just that kind of parking interloper. (I'm not! I live a block from the J!) It would be totally reasonable to think that I had driven in just to be closer to the J.

The other common complaint is about contractors leaving their trucks somewhere. These folks presumably are working on houses in the neighborhood. Is there some other way we can fix that problem? For example, does it make sense to stagger building permits in a neighborhood to help even out the effects on parking? Or....something?

By the way, I really love this discussion. It's great hearing from so many neighbors who are struggling with the same issues I am. And it's great to hear such reasonable, well-thought-out opinions and experiences.

It's not an easy problem to solve. I hate the idea of Residential Parking Permits, but I'd rather have them than have residents not be able to park their cars in our own neighborhood.

murphstahoe said...

While I don't get driving from somewhere to get our beloved J at 30th/Church, if I lived at 48th and Taraval, and wanted to take the L downtown, driving to Forest Hill (much faster) and getting on the underground there (more frequent with K/L/M) is a no brainer. That's why Forest Hill, which is sparsely populated for San Francisco, is permitted.

Ditto Glen Park, Balboa Park, West Portal.

I'm pretty sure the effect is real.

Anonymous said...

@7:25: The "alternative" to creating an RPP on my block was doing nothing and having extreme difficulty finding parking anywhere near my house. It didn't seem reasonable to me that everyone could park for as long as they wanted on my block, but I couldn't park for more than 2 hours in any of the other nearby blocks.
While the RPP system is not perfect, I guess I don't see any issue with giving residents priority for parking in their neighborhood. I don't want to exclude others or prevent them from visiting the neighborhood, but residential areas should not be long-term parking lots for people from outside the area.
The $96 cost is quite modest and apparently the city derives $13MM per year from RPP tickets (which goes to transit), so there is a larger benefit.

Tom said...

I can't imagine not having the permits, but I don't think it's a perfect solution. It prevents people from outside the city from parking on residential streets and using MUNI to get to work downtown or elsewhere. I speak as someone who would occasionally park in the Richmond district to take the 38 to work since I needed my car after work, but didn't want to pay for a garage all day.

Would love to see residents with garages being forced to use their garage for parking and NOT being allowed to park on the street. Or at least not being ticketed for parking in front of their driveway.

Anonymous said...

Some interesting follow-on questions:

To the poster who doesn't like the idea of people parking on her street and then taking public transportation but does so herself, what rules do you suggest people should have to follow to make this broken part of the system fair in your view, and how do you suggest those rules be enforced?

To the same poster who would rather have permits for residents than let non-residents park in contested spaces, how do you rationalize neighborhoods where permitted parking is blanketed but it is even harder to park than before there were permits?

To the poster who came right out and said, “It didn't seem reasonable to me that everyone could park for as long as they wanted on my block, but I couldn't park for more than 2 hours in any of the other nearby blocks,” can you please expand on why a reasonable response was to then do the very thing that made it an unreasonable for you in the first place, instead of trying to reverse the thing that made it unreasonable for you?

To the same poster, do you consider people from outside of your area to include anyone who lives across the street?

To the same poster, have you actually followed where money from residential parking permits goes to?

To the poster who can’t imagine not having permits, how do you reconcile the fact that you agree with their deterrent effect on public transportation users but engage in this undesired behavior yourself?

This should be good...

Anonymous said...

@4:12. I am happy to respond to your questions despite your snide and dismissive tone.

Getting my street into the RPP program was a perfectly reasonable response because it gives me the same opportunity to park as everyone else in the neighborhood. There is no feasible mechanism to "reverse" the entire RPP program (or even parts of it). And, as I said, I don't oppose it in principle (even if it is imperfect).

In any case, all my neighboring streets had RPPs, so those people can't complain about my street being an RPP; I just made the situation more rationale.

The people across the street are part of the RPP. Your question is incoherent (that is a danger with the passive aggressive style of your posting)

Here is a Matier and Ross column that documents that $13MM goes to the MTA: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/04/26/BAVR1D41S9.DTL Do you have anything to share on this topic?

I understand that is emotionally pleasing to try to make others look like hypocrites, but frankly it is not conducive to a good discussion.

If you have something constructive to say, please do so. But given the snide tone of your posts, I do not have high hopes.

Anonymous said...

And you come off just as dismissive and snide and arrogant as the previous post.

Anonymous said...

Who are all these crazy people in this neighborhood? Are you really my neighbors? @5:14 is being totally respectful, not snide or arrogant at all. I've seen very normal comments dismissed as "arrogant" about a dozen times in the last month, whether it's about the plaza, or the parking, or whatever else. Is there just one serious overactive crazy person here? Or are there a bunch of you?

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll bite back, softly...

How could getting your street into the RPP give you the same opportunity as everyone else in the neighborhood if the process happens street by street - was yours the last street to sign up in the permitted parking area? Good on you for resisting until the bitter end, if so.

Thanks for acknowledging that irreversibility nit. It's a bugger alright.

Since it's probable that for some time people visiting friends of theirs who lived on neighboring streets of yours with permitted parking would park on your unpermitted street - clandestine style, until you rationalized things - do you really think they aren't complaining, at least a little bit, maybe just to their friends who can't park on your street any longer?

While I wish you pointed it out a little more kindly, people across the street are not part of your RPP if you live on a corner. Your calling the possibility incoherent suggests everyone might benefit from your putting a greater degree of thought into the RPP process and its effects on all of your neighbors, not just those mid-block on your street.

Thanks, too, for rightly pointing out that Prop A diverts RPP revenues to MUNI, noting this was also the guise under which the now infamous MUNI-workers-make-the-most policy was approved by voters searching for parking solutions. Give one to get one, I guess, even though the second one costs about 60X what the first one generates, setting aside the satisfaction you get enjoying these services.

Oh, happy days are here again.

Anonymous said...

@7:01 As I said originally, I was surrounded by streets where there were RPPs so we filled in a gap.

You obviously dislike RPP's very much. But you have not explained why.

Oh well, I am much happier now that my street is an RPP. It is imperfect solution, but I am pretty confident it is better than eliminating all RPPs.

If you have a better solution or have suggestions on how to improve the existing system, please let us know.

Tom said...

This thread underscores why we need to take the time to enter names on our posts. I cannot tell who @4:12 is directing the questions to, and who is responding. I find myself just reading a non-linear list of comments, which isn't entirely without value, but a back and forth debate seems more coherent to me.

I wasn't suggesting that RPP's discourage public transportation. When I would park in the Richmond it was because I lived outside of the City. Normally I would take GGT into downtown for work, but sometimes I would park in the Richmond and take MUNI. Eventually my favorite street got RPP and I was no longer to park on their street all day. Inconvenient for me, but good for those homeowners. The RPP had nothing to do with discouraging public transportation in this case.