The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has floated a plan to deploy several types of parking management tools on Potrero Hill’s North Slope, including weekday time limits to discourage commuters from leaving their cars and parking meters to offer short-term options for shoppers, visitors, and other daytime users. If implemented the proposal would impact an array of residential and commercial sites, including the San Francisco Police Department’s De Haro Street facility, Whole Foods, Live Oak School and Jackson Playground.
“We have long known that our neighborhoods have served as parking lots for commuters who walk, bike, or take transit the last mile to their destinations in SoMa or Downtown,’ said J. R. Eppler, Potrero Boosters president “The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority has tracked this data, and we have strong anecdotal and neighborhood survey evidence of this. With the amount of new residents and businesses we are adding to our neighborhood, combined with the Chase Center and new offices in Mission Bay, we are looking for curb restrictions that prioritize parking for people that live, work or shop in the neighborhood.”
SFMTA’s initial proposal called for Monday through Saturday daytime regulations, but further study revealed that congestion isn’t a problem on Saturdays. Weekends will likely not be addressed in a final plan, nor will overnight parking, from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m., be affected. Apart from weekly street cleaning, no rules have been suggested that’d require people to move their vehicles during those hours. Under Proposition A, passed in 2007, SFMTA has final approval over all parking plans.
“These curb management proposals aren’t about making money for the City, or about taking away parking,” assured Andy Thornley, SFMTA senior parking and curb analyst. “All the parking that’s there now will still be there no matter what’s decided; we’re just looking for a way to share scarce curb with a lot of different users.”
SFMTA has held or participated in a number of public meetings to air community concerns, including a hearing last fall at City Hall which elicited comments from Potrero Hill residents and businesses. The Agency made parking plan presentations at the Potrero Boosters October get-together and the Potrero-Dogpatch Merchants Association November gathering.
“From those conversations, and many individual emails and phone calls, we’ve learned that we don’t need to worry about weekend parking measures, just Monday to Friday daytime, when the curb pressure is highest, and we’ve connected with residents in some locations who want to see about establishing Residential Parking Permits regulations on their blocks, rather than simple time limits or meters, and we’re working with them on that process” said Thornley.
Thornley noted that RPPs are a residents-initiated policy, begun by neighbors submitting a petition to SFMTA to designate one or more blocks in their area as RPP. The City’s first RPP, “Area A,” was established by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 at the urging of Telegraph Hill residents to address parking problems created by the large number of visitors to that neighborhood.
SFPD is calling for police-only parking around its facility, North Slope residents have begun collecting signatures for a petition asking SFMTA to evaluate the suitability of extending resident permit parking to some blocks.
“Parking has become difficult, primarily from San Francisco General Hospital staff parking their cars here. I regularly see people in their hospital scrubs parking in the morning and leaving in the evening,” said PDMA president Keith Goldstein. “I live at 800 Kansas Street and would support RPP on my block. I broached the idea to some neighbors on the 800 block a couple of years back but they were not supportive.”
There are 31 existing permit areas around the City. Presenting SFMTA with a petition is just the first step in securing a RPP for a location, followed by a review by Agency staff and then a field study. Next is a public hearing and then a final SFMTA study before approval, permit issuance and signage installation. RPP permit holders don’t have reserved spaces, but are exempt from time limits, allowing them to park for extended periods, generally required to move only for street cleaning.
A parking management plan for the area around Showplace Square adopted in 2017 has proved successful, but had unfortunate spillover effects on the Hill.
“The parking plans implemented in Showplace Square and Dogpatch show that parking can become much more available to local users when commuters are removed,” said Eppler. “Of course, those parking plans push commuter demand our way, where we still have unrestricted parking in many areas. In our experience, a successful parking plan should use the least restrictive measures to achieve the needed parking in a location, and reflect the specific needs of the users in that area.”
Recognizing that parking is a city-wide problem, Eppler added, “It’s unfortunate that the SFMTA is focusing right now on such a small part of Potrero Hill, and we hope that we can use this first plan as a springboard to a plan that sensitively addresses the rest of the Hill.”