Supe: San Francisco Is The “Wild West” Of Double Parking

Vehicles double parked on San Francisco’s streets should be the target of more enforcement by parking control and police officers, a city supervisor said at a hearing held Monday on the issue.

Supervisor Scott Wiener requested the hearing held at the board’s land use and economic development committee Monday afternoon, saying the city has become the “Wild West” of double parking.

“There seems to be a culture in San Francisco of total disregard for restrictions for double parking,” Wiener said.

He said double parkers in the form of private vehicles, taxis or delivery trucks often cause traffic backups of several blocks, get in the way of bus and light-rail lines and are dangerous to other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

The supervisor invited officials from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the city’s Police Department to discuss the problem and how to address it.

Ricardo Olea, a city traffic engineer with the SFMTA, said double parking is common in dense urban areas like San Francisco and can frequently cause accidents when other vehicles suddenly change lanes to get around the stopped car.

Olea said the SFMTA has raised double parking fines to $110 in recent years, added many curbside parking restrictions in various neighborhoods and put up “No double parking” signs on major thoroughfares like Mission Street and Stockton Street to try to cut down on the problem.

Olea also said the agency’s parking control officers issued 22,000 double parking citations in 2012, a number questioned by Wiener, who said he has only met one person that received such a ticket.

Wiener said there is a sentiment among city residents that parking control officers focus only on “easy tickets,” such as those for vehicles who did not turn their wheels toward the curb on a slope, rather than the “ones that are having an actual impact on traffic.”

Lea Militello, SFMTA’s director of security, investigations and enforcement, said “Our parking control officers are up and down the streets every day.”

Militello said, “Simply because a citation isn’t issued doesn’t mean they aren’t addressing double parking … in many cases, a citation is a kind of last resort.”

San Francisco police Cmdr. Mikail Ali echoed that, saying police responses to double parking focus “more on education than enforcement in many instances.”

However, Wiener said there is often no response at all to the problem.

He recalled being on a Muni J-Church light-rail vehicle that was stopped for an extended period of time because of a double parker and that he had to go into a nearby business himself to find the driver since no parking control officer ever arrived.

Wiener acknowledged that there are certain double parking exemptions for delivery trucks or other commercial vehicles.

“We don’t want it to be such a swarm that people can’t do business,” he said, but noted “it’s gone in the opposite extreme in some of our commercial areas.”

Eric Tuvel, program and design manager for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said double parkers endanger bicyclists who have to veer into traffic to get around the cars. He encouraged the city to create more separated bike pathways like the ones on Market Street.

The Rev. Arnold Townsend said he hoped a crackdown on double parkers would not target churchgoers during Sunday services and was assuaged by Militello.

“That parking concern that has been a longstanding part of San Francisco’s history,” she said. “We’re not actively pursuing the faith community when it comes to Sunday double parking.”

Wiener noted though that many people take advantage of that exception in areas like Mission Dolores and the popular nearby outdoors spot Dolores Park.

“They’re not all going to church unless Dolores Park is a church,” he said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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    Get rid of Bicycles in Traffic Lanes, Stay next to the Curb instead of Traffic Lanes…

  • I have never understood how allowing double parking outside church services is not an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state. This is the city subsidizing the churches by providing free parking in a way that clogs the streets for the rest of us. If this wasn’t allowed,the churches would have to rent out parking lots and provide shuttle services, something that would cost them money and stimulate the economy. In San Francisco, of all places, how this is tolerated is beyond me.

  • citi-zen

    A couple of comments – many MUNI drivers fail to pull their busses into bus zones to pick up people on busy streets, as then they would have to signal & merge back into traffic. Police them as you would double parkers, as they block traffic too!

    On many shopping streets there are many, many (too many?) yellow curb/meters for commercial vehicles that are often EMPTY. Chestnut Street in the Marina is an example. Why not monitor these meters, if the UPS trucks & other delivery vehicles are not using 50% of the time or more, revert them to regular, expensive meters for shoppers & diners to actually be able to park at.

    • RBR

      As usual, this will fall on deaf ears. For years I’ve been ranting about the driving behaviors of the drivers of the #22 as it has systematically clogged the traffic along 16th street. They do half-assed diagonal pull-in to the stops when they could just as easily pull up to the curb. Nothing has ever been done about it.
      Planners, in their “wisdom” eliminated the bus cutout at Haight and Divisadero; look at the backup it’s caused!
      The reality is that people are going to flock to cheaper gasoline, so the ARCO station at Divisadero & Fell is a magnet. Drivers block the northbound lane while they wait to get to the pumps when they approach from Divisadero north. There’s only one parking space immediately after the bus stop in front out Touchless carwash. If it were eliminated, that could ease the flow of northbound traffic. A turn arrow at that intersection would be a boon too. Not having a turn arrow there backs up the traffic due to left turning traffic from Oak on to Divisadero; if there are cars waiting to get into the ARCO station, it becomes a bottleneck.
      If I can see these things, I don’t know why the city can’t.

  • Pontifikate

    It seems like common sense to me to ticket cars that endanger other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. In other words, double-parkers, cars parked in red zones, especially when the red zone is a corner, making it a blind corner for drivers coming from an intersecting street. And how about ticketing moving violations and drivers who think that their technology trumps life.

    I salute Supervisor Weiner or anyone else who can shake up the police dept. and DPT. This business about educating double parkers is BS. No one gives me a warning note when I don’t turn my wheels on a pretty level street. I get a ticket. I am a sitting duck. Ticket the vultures before the sitting ducks. Common sense is missing bigtime in this city.

  • sebra leaves

    Every street has become a new “experience” in a new pilot program. No one knows the rules any more. There are so people doing the “wrong thing” that no one can do the “right thing” because we must constantly react to bad behavior.
    Double parking plays into the plans of the SFMTA to cut off traffic. They love double parkers and anyone or thing that stops traffic. That is their plan. Or haven’t you figured it out yet? Why else would they remove traffic lanes on the major streets like Van Ness and Potrero Avenue? BRTs sound wonderful if you really want the buses to move faster, but you will not move more people unless you put more buses on the BRTs. Have you seen any plans for more buses?

    • RBR

      You make a good point, especially since the reverse of the acronym MTA equals ATM.

      • RinSF

        ‘Mandating Taxation Arbitrarily’.

    • withak30

      The point of BRT is, in fact, to move buses and the people on them faster.

      • sebra leaves

        How does moving buses faster expand the Muni service to serve more riders? In order to move more people, you MUST add more buses to the line, that entails buying more buses or getting more of them to run, training more drivers and paying more drivers.
        Muni claimed they can’t expand the service to meet the needs of more riders.

        • withak30

          A bus line that can finish its run in, say, half the time is able to make approximately twice as many runs per day, thus potentially moving twice as many passengers per day with the same number of buses.

  • Jeff

    Yesterday, my inbound N-Judah was delayed by a double parked truck blocking the tracks at 9th and Irving for at least 5 minutes. Thanks truck driver!