Thursday, December 29, 2011

Parklets: Institutionalizing the smoking section

Photo © Søren Schaumberg Jensen/REBAR

For coffeehouses and restaurants, the sidewalk used to be for smokers who were accommodated with a few plastic chairs next to the traffic noise, the carbon monoxide, and the diesel fumes. 

Now those small business owners are benefiting from the parklet craze, which originated in the city's anti-car bike movement that sees anything---like taking away scarce parking spaces---that makes it more difficult and expensive to drive in San Francisco as a Good Thing.

John King likes parklets ("Parklets: a little tour of a major trend"), but he also likes highrises, the traffic-clogged Octavia Boulevard, and the ridiculous Congregation Beth Shalom synagogue at Clement and Park Presidio.

In a sidebar, King lists city fees of "$982.50---plus $650 more if parking meters are taken out of commission---and a $221 annual fee." According to the MTA's Transportation Fact Sheet (at the MTA website, click on "reports"), the annual revenue for the city per parking meter is $1,435. The average parklet takes away at least two metered parking spaces, which means a permanent loss of $2,870 a year for the city for each parklet. Some parklets, like the one at Cafe Mojo on Divisadero, take away three parking meters for a loss of $4,305 a year.

The parklet movement now has a city department, Pavement to Parks, dedicated to taking away street space from motor vehicles, also known in SF as "death monsters." Originally conceived to use "excess roadway" and to "reclaim public space," the idea quickly morphed into an anti-parking program, as if the streets of the city are better used for anything but traffic.

Naturally, Steve Jones, bicycle correspondent for the Bay Guardian, voice of the city's PC trendies, likes parklets.

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At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your parking calculations are bunk. Average parking revenue cannot be used here - the parking meter rates are higher in places like downtown than they are on Divis.

Customers at places like Mojo pay a lot more in sales taxes to SF than parking meters can ever recover. The universal response from owners near parklets is that they have increased business - e.g. they are collecting more sales tax revenue.

And if your prior art is to be believed, meters are nothing but a ripoff soaking the hard working folk, so removing meters should be a good thing.

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Parklets: Institutionalizing the smoking section"

All parklets clearly are labeled "NO SMOKING"

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is such a huge stick up your ass. You find the "wrong" in any situation. Bah, Humbug.

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some parklets, like the one at Cafe Mojo on Divisadero, take away three parking meters for a loss of $4,305 a year."

And the increased business won't make up for that? Bringing more people to a store increases sales taxes, helps small businesses, provides more jobs, increases foot traffic for surrounding businesses.

At 5:08 PM, Anonymous Reynaldo Perez said...

Rob. You are the ONLY person in San Francisco who doesn't like parklets. You are beyond hope.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Not so, Reynaldo. Check out the comments to the John King article I link in the post, and you'll find a number that are negative.

At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SFGate's comment section = proper representation of SF.

Always a new low with you Rob.

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Tonight is Critical Mass. What are you doing reading my blog?

No, we don't really know where the commenters live, but it's one of the few places---besides District 5Diary---where you bike people get unfiltered, negative feedback. And Bay City does some objective stories on the bike movement in SF, and you folks can't handle it.

Hard to believe that you and your movement aren't universally loved?

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Parking spaces are already public space in a city short of parking, and metered parking spaces are a source of revenue for a city that's short of money.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger alai said...

Actually, I agree with Rob on this one. People who install parklets in metered spaces should compensate the city for the lost revenue. You could base it on a neighborhood average instead of citywide, to be more accurate.

In fact, I'd extend that to other uses as well. I think any property owner (or resident) who wants to use the street parking space for some other purpose should be allowed to, by the same process-- compensate the city for the lost meter revenue, and go to it. People who want to reserve the space because they put in a driveway: same thing.

It's only fair.

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Parking spaces are already public space in a city short of parking, and metered parking spaces are a source of revenue for a city that's short of money."

Funny how your tune changes depending on the circumstance.


"Parklet spaces are already public space in a city short of public space, and increased sales taxes are a source of revenue for a city that's short of money."

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Where's the "change of tune"? The city needs money and parking, which makes the parklet fad poor public policy.

At 2:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city needs money and parking

Double the parking meter rates then. And increase parking ticket fines, which will raise money and increase parking turnover, providing more parking.

Or does that not fit the narrative?

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

My "narrative" doesn't exclude parking meters and parking tickets. What I think is unhealthy---and not politically sustainable---is the predator/prey relationship City Hall has with everyone who drives in the city. Last year City Hall signaled that it's going to back off on the war on cars, that motorists as cash cow for an improvident city government has reached some kind of a limit.

The new, high-tech parking meter system is promising, but it remains to be seen how well it will work in creating turnover use of street parking. In the meantime, with the parklets and the Bicycle Plan, the city continues to decrease the amount of street parking on busy city streets, which is not only a pain in the ass for people who drive in SF but, if continued, will actually damage the city's economy.

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So we should keep the meters because we need the money, but not ticket people who don't pay because that is predatory?

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, we keep the meters and we still give people parking tickets, but we don't make raising money the primary goal of the exercise. And we should always give the benefit of the doubt and the close calls to the motorist to avoid that predator/prey relationship.

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems people don't pay their tickets anyway.

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people like them!

At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parklets are a STUPID waste of taxpayer funds. The City must have spent a million in administrative and other costs on these.

The City loses money all around, and the parking spaces are taken away without proper notification to residents.

Another Newsom scam!!!!


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