Many city drivers are rejoicing today, as metered Sunday parking will remain free for the indefinite future. Transit advocates put up a hard fight to implement a controversial proposal to extend parking meter fees to Sundays, but the plan will not be moving forward according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.
The battle began in April 2009 when (at the behest of transit advocates, many of whom asked “why should parking be free on Sundays when Muni is not?”) the MTA started to discuss the idea of operating parking meters on Sundays as part of their plan to offset the agency’s $129 million deficit. The reception from drivers was not favorable.
SFMTA pressed on, producing a study in October 2009 showing that extending the hours would help with parking turnover, congestion, fuel waste from circling vehicles and it would bring more drivers into area businesses. Not to mention, they estimated it could bring in $8.8 million in revenue.
Despite the findings, business owners, residents living in commercial areas, the parking control officers union, the antiwar group ANSWER, and Mayor Newsom adamantly objected to the plan. On the other hand, support for the plan came from environmental and transportation activists, some members of the Board of Supervisors, and residents who saw it as the right choice between the pockets of drivers and public transit riders.
As the SFMTA continued seeking public input from individuals and organizations, the director of the MTA, Nathaniel Ford, claimed in March that he was putting Sunday meters back on the table for the upcoming budget. Alas, the Mayor continued to stand firmly against it, reportedly counseling the MTA to kill the idea.
The push and pull continued, with a 90-day pilot program for selected areas slated to start in June. That never happened and despite the plan to start it next month – it appears it never will.
Jesse Fink, president of the Clement Street Merchants Association in the Inner Richmond, told the Examiner that he did not know of any business owner that was for the proposal.
Transit activists are not happy about the decision. Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City, also told the Examiner that the city lost out on a good chance to improve parking management in the places where there is often a huge shortage. “I also think it perpetuates the MTA’s obnoxious habit of only looking for areas of revenue during times of crisis.”
So, that’s that. Sundays will remain a freebie for drivers. As for the rest of the time, San Francisco is still planning to add more than 1,300 meters to the city streets, including fancy new variable-pricing meters that will have “demand responsive pricing”. Meter pricing will range from between 25 cents an hour to a maximum of $6.00 an hour, depending on demand. The demand will be tracked via sensor and prices will fluctuate no more frequently than once a month.