parking_meter.jpgBack in July, the Board of Supes considered the San Francisco County Transportation Authority‘s On-Street Parking Management And Pricing Study, which recommended things like increasing parking meter rates, expanding meters into more neighborhoods, and extending parking meter hours to 10 PM on weekdays.

MTA chief Nathaniel Ford promised a study from his own agency back in May,and according to Streetsblog, this as-yet-incomplete study “affirms that extending meter hours is good parking management that will improve driver convenience and create turnover for businesses.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom seems to disagree, saying through a representative that he “thinks it’s the wrong time to make these moves…right now, with the economy where it is, the burden on ordinary people for city services is already stretched to the max.”

What do you think, is this one of those times where the Mayor’s going to the bat for us little guys, preserving us from being quarter, nickled, and dimed to death — or is he standing in the way of a rad, revenue generating idea?

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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  • Xenu

    People who drive can afford to pay extra. People who ride Muni often cannot afford to pay extra.

    Both the parking and Muni are run by the same agency.

    And who got the shaft? Why Muni, of course!

    Raising parking meter prices is not only the fair thing to do, it’s also long overdue. Jack those prices up and pay for Muni with the proceeds.

  • cedichou

    Parking meter rates are basically subsidized. $2/hour is pretty cheap in many neighborhood. They should increase the rate, and extend the hours. It is a tax against bad behavior, so increasing it only has positive results: disincentive against driving, less pollution, less traffic to slow down public transit, more revenues, it’s win-win-win. Also, they should start congestion pricing as in Stockholm or London. Street parking permits are pretty darn cheap, like $70 for a year of parking. They can jack this up if they want to.

  • Greg Dewar

    The mayor is once again subsidizing autos at the expense of transit, all the while calling himself Mr. Green (in a gas guzzling suv!). He is deliberately sabotaging the MTA once again.

    Countless studies have shown that it’s the walkability+ diversity of a neighborhood business district, not parking, that determines whether it lives or dies. But the Mayor can’t be bothered, he’s running (dead last) for Governor and doesn’t care about SF anymore – he’s just trying to avoid the “raising taxes” attack.

  • Matt Baume

    Seriously, jack up the meter rates and do it now. The only reason they’re cheap is because the government subsidizes them — in fact, a new study shows that it costs us five time as much to subsidize parking meters as transit passes. Time to put a stop to that. I’m not interested in my taxes paying for someone else’s cheap parking spot.

  • bloomsm

    I think it’s reasonable to make people pay until 8:00 pm in commercial areas like Clement St., Union St. etc. The business who operate at night, mainly restaurants, get the advantage of free parking. Their customers should not be given a free ride on the backs of those who park during the day. I’d keep the rates even, as a compromise, but I’d lengthen the hours. Maybe give people a discount if they bought a pre-paid card (?). I don’t think anyone who is going out on Union St., for example, will think twice about an extra $2.50 to park.

  • Eve Batey

    I love the idea of offering a discount with card use (like FastTrack). Does anyone know (hi lazy journalist here) if that’s been offered as an option?

  • LibertyHiller

    Hard-working (but no longer paid) journalist here: FasTrak discounts only apply on the Golden Gate Bridge; the state-owned bridges do not offer any discount for using a transponder. As far as offering discount on a pre-paid parking card, I’m sure that’s never been suggested. One can’t add value to pre-paid parking cards, either; I can only assume that SFMTA/DPT just doesn’t want to be bothered with the costs of equipment and maintenance.

  • Whole Wheat Toast

    Raise the parking fee and extend the hours! Wait—if the hours are extended, who will work overtime to collect and enforce the new hours? In that case, I would rather have a parking fee increase.

  • kl2real

    It’s probably better to just have the poor leave the City all together. It would eliminate the problem with bicycles on Market Street and in the wiggle for starts. Raise parking meter rates all you want. I’ll just drive my car (and my piles of money) down to San Mateo County to spend more there than I already do, adding to their sales tax revenue at the expense of tax flow into San Francisco. Is that really the solution for San Francisco’s budget woes? Probably not, but the anarchist idiots in this town show up like screaming banshees anytime anybody tries to do something sensible and fiscally sound for the City. I’ll start riding the MUNI again when it’s a reliable, efficient, speedy transit system like it used to be. That will be the day…


    I think the City should hold off until they make it easy to pay all meters. I was just in LA and every meter I saw had the ability to pay with a key card. I don’t mind the cost, the problem is running out of quarters. As a San Francisco real estate agent, I obviously park all over the city all the time. It would be nice and convenient to have the key cards.

  • bloomsm

    @Eve and Liberty: what we need is a swipe card system for parking meters; it is used very successfully on mass transit in Hong Kong. Essentially a pre-paid debit card that can be re-filled at any time. It can be used on any transit vehicle, as well as retail shops that have the card reader. The City could encourage people to buy a pre-paid card by saving a modest amount off the full rate. People would buy cards and possibly not use all the cash on it, thereby collecting larger revenue and doing it more efficiently. Use your credit card at a kiosk and buy whatever you need.

  • LibertyHiller

    Kevin, we’ve had pre-paid parking cards for a few years now. You can order them online at, or pick them up at many neighborhood stores; they come in $20 and $50 denominations. The only downside is that they aren’t accepted at Port of SF meters; I suspect the Port is just too broke to replace its hardware, or has no incentive to do so.

  • LibertyHiller

    Blooms, some of that is already in place: the pre-paid cards are smart cards rather than swipe cards, but they work in a similar fashion, except for the parts about being valid on public transit (but Translink is finally up and running, yay!) and the ability to reload the card. I keep a $20 parking card on my person, so it amounts to an interest-free loan, even without a discount.

    But I had to chuckle at your second-to-last sentence: do you honestly think the City cares about efficiency? Pass that dutchie to the left-hand side, bro!

  • cedichou

    I’m pretty sure enforcement pays for itself.

    The city discovered that point when they went from weekly to bi-weekly street cleaning to save costs, and ended up with a net loss in the $ millions from the parking tickets.

  • sfboogie

    i think all city residents who own a car should have to purchase an annual parking permit- not just specific neighborhoods. perhaps there could even be different levels of parking permits that allow you to park in the financial district or at certain meters, or even parking lots. don’t have the permit- can’t park there.

    (and yes- i have a car)