The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency today released a study recommending Sunday parking meter enforcement, and weeknight hours as late as midnight in some parts of the city.

SFMTA executive director Nathaniel Ford said the report is intended as the starting point for a long, and likely heated, discussion.

“We have to have something to debate about,” he said.

Ford said the recommendations outlined in the report would improve city parking policies, while bringing in nearly $9 million to the cash-strapped agency.

The study examined neighborhoods’ parking occupancy rates, and how late area businesses stay open, according to SFMTA Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose. The resulting proposal would extend the hours people have to feed coins into city’s 24,000 parking meters, most of which currently operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Based on the study, SFMTA staff recommend adding special Friday and Saturday night hours in some areas, and enforcing the meters on Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. citywide.

During the rest of the week, nearly two-thirds of city meters would be active until 9 p.m., and midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. The extended weekend hours will also be added to some 6 p.m. meters, while meters in popular areas like the Inner Mission, North Beach and around Union Square would run through midnight every night except Sundays.
On Sundays, and after 6 p.m. other nights, residents could pay to park for up to four hours, Bose said.

By SFMTA calculations, the proposal would bring in $8.8 million in additional revenue, after a $2.5 million implementation cost. However, Bose said she recommend these changes regardless of the cash implications.

This approach, she said, would create parking turnover, easing congestion, making elusive spaces more available, and bringing more drivers into area businesses.

Residential parking permit areas could be expanded in spaces with nighttime meter hours to avoid the “spillover effect” of residents coming home from work and seeking overnight parking at metered spaces, Bose said.

“We really have to tailor our enforcement to particular neighborhoods,” Bose said. She said adding credit card capabilities to city meters, still an estimated two years away, would also help tremendously.

The MTA board will hear the proposal at its Oct. 20 meeting. Beyond that, the agency has no timeline for the ensuing discussion or potential implementation, Ford said.

He stressed that today’s report is just a preliminary suggestion, and a starting point for debate. The agency must also collect input from riders, residents, business owners and city officials, he said.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has expressed opposition to added meter hours, and the Oakland City Council recently reversed its own extended parking meter plan after outcry from residents and businesses.

“We need to get the debate going,” Ford said. He noted, “it’s going to be a passionate debate.”

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  • kl2real

    The only debate should be whether or not to retain Ford, who is clearly out of touch with reality. Maybe if MUNI didn’t maim and kill so many people, or subject them to violence and filth while riding, they wouldn’t have such high overhead, ya think?

  • sfboogie

    Free parking in business districts is a luxury- if you drive a car you pay to park. This is true of most any city large or small. It’s actually more surprising that in a city like SF that has a viable nightlife past 6 pm that the meters don’t already extend well into the late evening hours. When I decide to drive anywhere in the city I factor in the potential cost of parking- sometimes opting for public transit instead. Even if people own a car of out necessity that doesn’t mean they have to drive it to go out to dinner, the bar, or shopping.

    However, I do not agree with charging at meters on national holidays and the associated holiday pay for enforcement. A “free” day once-a-month is kind of nice and it’s usually a day when I wind up throwing money back into the local economy by enjoying a day off with eating and shopping.