Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Suspicions confirmed: SF parking meter rates among highest

The online comments to the parking meter story below are of interest, like this one:

According to the MTA web site, state law describes parking ticket income that exceeds the costs of administration and expenses as a tax which is not allowed under Proposition 13 without voter approval. If this is the case, it will be interesting to see how the MTA explains where the parking meter money is going.

The MTA doesn't have to explain itself, since there's no dissent on the MTA board and no dissent on the Board of Supervisors on city traffic and parking policy. There is some dissent in the neighborhoods, which the story links and City Hall couldn't ignore. The whole anti-car thing is a paper tiger politically, since city voters never get a chance to vote on these policies. If City Hall continues down this road, so to speak, the next step in the political process: city voters might begin rejecting candidates that support policies that see people with cars as primarily a source of revenue.

Where a lot of the parking meter money is going: into the bottomless pit called the Central Subway. According to page 4 of this document the "SFMTA and Parking Revenues" are contributing $163,890,000 to that project, even though MTA is chronically in the red and the city is borrowing money to pave our streets.

And the SFCTA is contributing $123,800,000 to the city's own Big Dig.

San Francisco is contributing $287,690,000 to the Central Subway boondoggle, as our Muni system wallows in red ink. 
by Rachel Gordon, SF Gate

San Francisco shares the top spot for the steepest parking meter fines in the U.S. and has the third highest hourly parking rates for metered spaces.

That was the finding of a new survey by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency that compared meter rates and fines in 40 of the nation’s cities, most of them at the center of major metropolitan areas, with a handful of smaller suburban communities and tourist hubs added to the mix.

The penalty to park at an expired meter tops at $65 in New York City and San Francisco’s downtown zones; the fine drops to $55 in San Francisco’s outlying commercial districts. The best places for money-mindful motorists to park illegally: St. Louis and Champaign, Ill., where the fine for a meter violation is $10.

Closer to home, the fines in Oakland and San Jose are $58 and $35, respectively.

Chicago leads the pack on the cost to plug a meter, with the charge there capping at $5 an hour but running as low as $1.50. The peak rate in New York City also is $5, in Greenwich Village, and $2.50 downtown.

San Francisco charges up to $4.25 in high-demand areas, and 75 cents on metered streets where parking is plentiful. The groundwork has been laid to inch up the hourly charge to $6 on certain San Francisco streets during peak hours.

San Jose remains a relative bargain, at $1 an hour. Oakland is double that, but still much cheaper than San Francisco.

The Municipal Transportation Agency survey, based on December 2011 rates and fines, has been conducted annually since 2009. In addition to the costs, it also looks at the hours and days the meters operate. Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and Las Vegas, for example, have 24-hour enforcement in certain areas.

San Francisco meters, for the most part, don’t have to be plugged before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m., although the hours are extended in some neighborhoods. The agency also is looking to expand operations deeper into the night and to more places on Sundays. There are about 28,000 meters in the city.

While the city is experimenting with using parking meters to battle congestion by using pocketbook policy to change drivers’ behavior, meters also are a big money maker for the agency. Revenue from meter-related charges and fines amounts to more than $50 million a year. A recent proposal to add about 5,000 new meters in the city was put on hold last month amid strong opposition from residents and business owners.

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Parklet on lower Haight: smoking section for a bar

Danny Coyle's on lower Haight Street is applying for a parklet. Follow the issue on lowerhaight.org.

Michael contributes this dissent:

Although I think Danny Coyle's is a fine establishment, and I am truly appreciative of the vitality and security it brings to the neighborhood, I am strongly against this proposal for following reasons. Already too much of their noise spills out onto the street. The windows in the front of the bar are almost always open, and they don't seem to have any policy about closing them after certain hours. They are pretty lousy neighbors, and seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that they are in a residential neighborhood. 

The volume on their sound system is always up higher than permissible levels, per city code. They don't seem to have any policy on the hours that they control the volume. If you bother to go to the bar to ask them to adjust the volume, you will likely be met with an annoyed gaze and a sarcastic comment. Putting a parklet in front of a bar is only creating a smoking section for the bar. I smoke, and I hang out in bars. When I'm hanging out in a bar and want to smoke, I go out in front of the bar (unless they have a patio). Smokers hang out at bars with smoking areas. The claim that smoking would not be allowed in this parklet under existing laws is frankly absurd.

One of the objectives of a parklet is to punctuate a block; create visual interest and a social space in the middle of a block. Having a parklet next to a bus stop does not make sense from a planning perspective, and it does not seem like a really pleasant place to hang out, read a book or chat with friends. I do like the idea of seeing more parklets in our neighborhood. I don't think putting them in front of bars that do not serve food is a wise idea. If one has to be installed on Haight Street, it would be more appropriate in front of Molotov's or Noc Noc.

Best regards,


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