San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener at the Board of Supervisors’ land use and transportation committee hearing Monday afternoon expressed his concern that the city is inadequately enforcing double parking violations in the city.
Monday’s hearing, which was a follow-up to a hearing held in September 2013, was an opportunity for city departments to show how they have tackled the issue of double parking.
Wiener said double parking has led to the blockage of bike lanes and Municipal Railway routes as well as contributed to traffic jams.
He said he didn’t see much enforcement changes since the 2013 hearing.
While Wiener admitted that there are times when double parking is unavoidable and that commercial vehicles are allowed to do so under certain circumstances, he maintained that “double parking, to be quite frank, is absolutely rampant in San Francisco.”
Double parking not only causes traffic congestion, but can lead to serious accidents when bicyclists and vehicles attempt to get around a double-parked vehicle, Wiener said.
Camron Samii, enforcement manager with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, briefed the committee on how the SFMTA was handling double parking on city streets.
Samii said that while passenger vehicles are generally not allowed to double park unless there is an elderly or disabled passenger loading or unloading, there are instances when commercial vehicles are permitted to double park.
He said commercial double parking is prohibited if there is legal space available to park nearby, if the double parking creates a hazard, if there is no evidence of loading or unloading, or if the driver is asked to move but chooses not to move their vehicle.
However, commercial vehicles often do not move their illegally parked vehicles because they accept the $110 citations as a cost of doing business, according to Samii.
“Citation issuance doesn’t always achieve compliance,” Samii said.
According to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose, double parking citations have risen from 1,472 in February 2014 to 2,495 last month.
Additionally, citations issued to double-parked vehicles that are blocking bike lanes have increased from 105 in February 2014 to 251 last month, Rose said.
Samii said, unfortunately, it appears that as the city creates new bike lanes, those lanes are viewed by some as an invitation to double park.
According to the SFMTA, the agency issued about 92 percent of all double parking citations since the 2013 hearing, while the San Francisco Police Department issued only about 7 percent of all double parking citations.
Wiener said he was disappointed with the Police Department’s lack of enforcement and said that without more consistent efforts, the city will continue to see double parking on the rise.
Wiener said it appears that without stricter enforcement, there is nothing to discourage people from double parking, since many drivers are simply asked to move along without being issued citations.
“There appears to be very little double parking enforcement, period,” Wiener said.
Samii said there has also been an increase in citations issued to drivers of tech shuttles, as well as drivers of ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft.
He said the SFMTA is continuing to focus its efforts along the city’s busy Muni and bicycle corridors.
Eric Tuvel, program and design manager for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said double parking endangers bicyclists who have to veer into traffic to get around cars.
At the 2013 hearing, Tuvel encouraged the city to create more separated bike pathways like the ones on Market Street, and on Monday he again urged the city to do more than just enforce the law.
Tuvel said the bike coalition has completed a two-month social media campaign, #ParkingDirtySF, which identified some of the worst cases of double parking so that enforcement could be targeted appropriately.
According to Tuvel, more than 500 responses were collected from people bicycling in San Francisco during the campaign, identifying 75 unique locations where frequent violations were occurring.
In addition, the bike coalition’s campaign helped identify specific recurring issues with delivery trucks and ride-booking companies.
“I don’t think we can enforce our way out of this issue,” Tuvel said, again asking the city to consider engineering and education tactics, as well as enforcement.
The top locations that the bicycle coalition determined to be hot spots for double parking were Valencia Street, Market Street and The Embarcadero between the Ferry Building and Pier 39.
The SFMTA also found that since the 2013 hearing, vehicles double-parked on Mission Street received more citations than any other street in the city.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News