Saturday, February 11, 2012

The spoils of the parking war

Photo by Liz Hafalia for the SF Chronicle

The parking meter rebellion has been simmering in San Francisco for years. The city's determination to put parking meters in the neighborhoods sparked the recent revolt in Dogpatch and Portrero Hill. C.W. Nevius wrote about parking several years ago in the Chronicle, as did Ken Garcia in the Examiner about a similar rebellion in Oakland. I've been writing about parking in the city since 2006, pointing out that parking meters, parking tickets, and city-owned parking lots/garages are a major source of income for the city.

The Dogpatch/Portrero parking rebellion has been noticed by Supervisors Kim and Cohen, who represent that part of town. Supervisor Kim may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she knows a potential political problem when she sees it. From her newsletter:

The MTA has proposed new parking meter plans in our District. After hearing from countless neighbors, our office decided to support the community in their assesment[sic] that more time is needed to perform outreach and develop a parking management plan which fits our mixed use neighborhoods. The MTA listened to us and committed to delaying implementation and working with our neighbors to develop a stronger plan.

A "stronger plan" will mean no plan at all if Kim is really hearing those "countless neighbors" in her district.

Oakland is considering a "kinder, gentler" parking policy. "Parking is such a big issue in this city---people are thrilled we're finally doing something to help them," [Councilmember Jane]Brunner said.

Haven't heard of a similar policy initiative from any of our supervisors, which means the parking war will continue here.

If City Hall adopts a "kinder, gentler" policy and stops so aggressively preying on city drivers, the city's income will go down. According to the latest San Francisco Transportation Fact Sheet, in FY2010-11 the city made $49,520,486 from parking meters; more than twice that on parking tickets, $86,306,584; and $38,742,622 from city-owned parking lots.

The city makes a lot more on parking meter violations than it does on the meters themselves. 

Add the $9,040,407 from residential parking permits, and the total the city made from owners of those devilish motor vehicles: $171,610,099.

Labels: ,


At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This has nothing to do with parking in San Francisco.

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Labels: anti-car; parking

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Video about cars over running all public space the world over = "has nothing to do with parking in SF"

Rob, fail.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, it doesn't have anything to do with parking meters in Dogpatch and Portrero Hill, but keep on trying, moron.

At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're coming sooner or later...

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SF is different than any other place in the whole wide world.

And yes, those meters are coming. And when they do come - it'll be game fucking on. Cars are done for in the city. And just wait for the $5/gal gas this summer... Going to be a fun time on my bike.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Nato said...

They installed parking meters in my neighborhood, and I kind of like it. I would have preferred it even more back when I lived on Natoma, since it would have gotten the dumpster cars towed quicker.

In any case, I don't want to pay to maintain other peoples' parking spaces with my property taxes; I'd rather the flow of money go the other way.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Bullshit. You're just another bike guy who's too chickenshit to put his name on his comment.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Nato said...

@Rob - Am I the "bike guy who's too chickenshit to put his name on his comment"? I posted under my own account, so I'm not sure what you mean.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What is your name? "Nato" surely isn't your full name.

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Nato said...

So your rather uncivil response *was* directed at me? Perhaps that shouldn't have surprised me, yet it did. In any case, I'm Nato Powell, and I drive, bike, walk and ride the train in the city. Hopefully that's sufficient disclosure for you to respond to the content of my comment.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Okay, was that so hard?

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Nato said...

@Rob It's not hard to give my surname, but it is pretty hostile to insult me and ignore the substance of my comment right from the start, apparently because my actual blogger account doesn't include my last name. Is this how you always behave? That might explain why some aren't willing to have a civil debate with you.

As further disclosure, I'm actually a registered Libertarian, and have been pretty much my whole adult life. I am not a progressive in fiscal matters, and my wife and I refer to bicycle extremists as "critical massholes." Yet, I've been impressed with the relative efficiency of one publicly-provided good (transit) vs. the inefficiency of another publicly-provided good (roads). Further, it seems that roads have proven that they do not scale well, yet high density both lowers frictional unemployment and increases job growth. Cities like SF are expensive places to live not only because they are nice places to live, but also because they are (high taxes and fees aside) excellent places to find a deep and diverse workforce, creating tremendous demand. Most cities are fairly anti-growth, however, meaning that only the richest (or best-connected) can bid for the artificially-constrained capacity. Meanwhile the most auto-dependent places have gotten crushed by high gas prices and the growing realization that gas taxes do not remotely pay for roads.

A century of government subsidies has sustained the overwhelming ascendancy of auto transportation so far, but in the long term we're going to have to get real, and we're going to have to either accept greater densification or accept being poor. So this Libertarian is looking hard for any way to gracefully accommodate the former and stop wasting so much money.

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, libertarianism, the political philosophy of intellectual adolescents everywhere.

Your original comment had no serious substance. You ignored---and continue to ignore---the links in the post that substantiate what I'm saying.

Your ruminations about roads and taxes is likewise completely fact-free.

"Is this how you always behave? That might explain why some aren't willing to have a civil debate with you."

I don't get a lot of bike people "willing" to debate because, like you, they never seem to do any homework, never seem to know anything except Bikes are Good and Cars are Bad. My posts are always based on the facts in some document and/or article.

In this post, for example, I link an important document, the city's Transportation Fact Sheet, which the city updates every year. It provides the basis for a discussion based on facts about how people get around in SF. I rely on it for my posts, along with the annual bike count, the city's annual collision document that tells us about the safety on our streets, Grand Jury studies, studies by the city Controller, etc.

You refer to taxes and roads but SF is governed so poorly that it is now borrowing a lot of money just to maintain city streets: the $248 million bond passed last November will end up costing city taxpayers more than $180 million in interest!

And the city is using a lot of the money it makes from parking meters on the Central Subway, a project that the Grand Jury exposed as poorly designed and unaffordable.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Nato said...

Rob, you use numbers, but they don't mean what you seem to think they mean, so merely having linked to them doesn't prove your point. Yes, parking meters, tickets and city owned garages are a major source of revenue, but I'm not sure what that's supposed to prove. Streets are also tremendously costly in terms of space and (to a lesser extent) maintenance. If the city doesn't price the good, of course it will seem free, but it's not free any more than Golden Gate Park is free. To devote billions of dollars in real estate to the task of providing free parking doesn't seem like a productive use of public resources.

At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And the city is using a lot of the money it makes from parking meters on the Central Subway, a project that the Grand Jury exposed as poorly designed and unaffordable."

Do your homework.

Parking meter money = operations budget.

Central Subway = capital budget.

Never the twain shall meet.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Without the protection of anonymity, knowledge of your ignorance is still a private matter. Check out page four in this city document, which tells us that "MTA and parking revenues" in the amount of $163,890,000 are being contributed to the idiotic Central Subway project. And the SFCTA is throwing $123,980,000 of our sales tax money into that deep, metaphorical hole.

City Hall relies on a lot of clueless know-it-alls like you to keep the game going.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Nato: You're an excellent example of the libertarian mentality, since you evidently live in mental state unsullied by a single, verifiable fact.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Nato said...

Rob, the problem with your arguments is one of logic, not facts. I don't dispute your facts, which is why I don't bother to cite alternatives.

Let me use a simpler example. Clinical findings show that developing lung cancer convinces most patients to quit smoking within five months (see here: If I were to argue that lung cancer should be encouraged so as to reduce smoking rates, you wouldn't need to cite countervailing facts to dispute my position.

Now, maybe you feel that I should cite some facts to prove maintaining streets isn't free, but I sort of thought that would be obvious to you. Here's a URL if it makes you feel better:

Other than that, I'm not sure what sort of facts you want me to cite. I don't dispute the whole parking funds being spend on capital improvements thing, but it doesn't matter to me because I see no reason why parking revenues shouldn't be used on capital improvements. Maybe there is such a reason, but so far as I can tell, none has been offered as of yet.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Is maintaining city streets a "capital improvement"? Considering all the money the city makes from preying on motorists, why does it have to borrow money to maintain our streets? The answer: the MTA needs more and more money to feed its growing bureaucracy, which is 5,000-employee strong and growing.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home