May 2014

Parking spaces

SF Has Enough On-Street Parking Spaces To Fill California’s Coastline

SF is crammed with car storage. This image only shows public parking spaces. Image: SFMTA

Clarification: California’s coastline (840 miles) is shorter than the end-to-end length of SF’s on-street parking spaces alone (900 miles). This post originally compared it to the length of SF’s total public parking supply (1,451 miles long), which is actually longer than the west coast of the United States from Mexico to Canada (1,360 miles). ).

Here’s a fact for naysayers who insist that SF absolutely needs every parking spot and can’t spare any for safer or more efficient streets: San Francisco has 441,950 publicly accessible parking spaces. Of that number, the 275,450 on-street parking spaces alone are enough to parallel park a line of cars 60 miles longer than the entire 840 mile California coastline, as the SFMTA pointed out. the SF examiner today. That’s enough parking to fill the parking lots that would cover the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, and Lake Merced.

The numbers come from SFMTA’s recently updated parking census. The census is a manual count taken to refine the agency’s 2010 estimate, which was based on a random 30 percent sample of city streets. Parking spaces are most heavily concentrated in dense city centers, with 35,000 parking spaces per square mile in areas such as downtown, the Civic Center, Russian Hill, and Nob Hill. At the bottom of the scale, most neighborhoods have around 10,000.

None of the counts included private parking spaces in residential garages, which are estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands.

“… With nearly 10,000 vehicles registered per square mile, San Francisco today has one of the densest car concentrations on the planet, more than any other city in the United States,” said writes Jason Henderson, professor of geography at SF State University. in an SF Bay Guardian column this month.

The vast majority of sidewalk space in San Francisco is devoted to 275,450 spaces for the storage of cars. Each of these occupies about 140 square feet of land, 17 to 20 feet long and about 7 feet wide, according to the census. Ninety percent of these spaces are unmeasured and are free to use at any time of the day.

“One source of the parking problem in San Francisco is that you have some of the most valuable land on the planet, and it’s free, and people are complaining that there isn’t enough of it,” he told Examiner Donald Shoup, professor at UCLA and modern parking policy guru. “I think San Francisco needs to find a smarter way to manage parking, other than making it free for everyone.”

Shoup called the Sunday parking meter reversal to appease church leaders “yet another step back, telling the Examiner that” I believe in separating the church from the parking lot.

Bruce Osterweil, a Richmond resident, owner of a car, pointed out tthe absurdity of the situation of free parking for SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin at a community meeting yesterday, after city officials explained their proposed transport funding voting measures.

“Why can I park my car on the street for free?” Said Osterweil, who previously sat on the Geary Bus Rapid Transit Citizen Advisory Committee for ten years. “My understanding is that real estate is quite expensive in San Francisco. But we have this policy that you can own one car – or more than one car – and take up a lot of space, and park on the street for free. looks like we should be paying for all that space.

Osterweil argued that put a more rational price on parking, through Extending parking meters and permit restrictions would reduce parking demand – thereby opening up parking spaces and reducing the flow of cars driving to park, while raising funds to improve transportation options.

This is the raison d’être of the SFMTA’s SFpark program, for which the parking census was carried out. SFpark is in a transition phase at the end of its two-year pilot period, and the agency is no longer using the underground sensors that were used to collect parking usage data. The SFMTA plans to present its pilot SFpark assessment next month.

SFMTA director Reiskin said nothing in response to Osterweil’s comments, but after the meeting he told Streetsblog that the agency essentially “institutionalizes” the principles of SFpark in the agency’s general parking management program. SFpark has moved from the finance division to the sustainable streets division, he said. And instead of using sensors, SFMTA now monitors parking lot occupancy using smart meters that track payments.

Still, the SFMTA isn’t quite ready to try to expand parking meters again, after the backlash from Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and the northeastern neighborhoods of Mission. “There have been things done under the SFpark banner that hit some walls, but the general concepts, I think, have been pretty well empirically validated,” Reiskin said.

But avoiding a car-crowded future for San Francisco will ultimately require recognizing that there is an upper limit on how many cars can safely and reasonably fit on a 7-mile by 7-mile peninsula. Studies show that when more parking spaces are built – and at low cost – then more residents tend to own and drive cars.

Yet as we wrote, the more space we dedicate to parking, the less space we will have to house people – and SF is set to build an additional 92,000 personal car storage locations by 2040 under current policies.

Meanwhile, attempts by the SFMTA to take even a piece of curbside parking for protected bike lanes or transit lightbulbs invariably cause traders and residents to fight tooth and nail. to preserve every last place. And SF political leaders rarely mobilize to defend such rational efforts to reallocate public space more effectively.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that parking is the cause of congestion,” Osterweil said. “If you charge for it, people might not have five more cars.”

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