Parking Pilot Proposed in Dogpatch

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The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has embarked on an initiative to research and analyze the effectiveness of the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) policy in Dogpatch. Part of the effort may include a pilot project to implement new parking management strategies for a number of blocks within an area bounded by Mariposa and Cesar Chavez streets, Pennsylvania Avenue and Illinois Street. SFMTA and the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA) have been collaborating to develop the parking plan since January, with some residents opposed to proposals to add paid parking and an RPP-meter overlay to roads between Mariposa and 22nd streets, or place meters in southern Dogpatch.

The RPP program was created in 1976 to protect spaces for residents by limiting the amount of time non-residents can park in designated areas. A petition signed by more than 50 percent of households on a block must be submitted for an area to participate in the program.

SFMTA and Dogpatch residents and businesses generally agree that the neighborhood needs more parking regulation. Dogpatch’s increasing population density, with residential complexes replacing formerly industrial land uses, has led to intense space shortages for residents, workers, and commuters. Developments surrounding the neighborhood, such as the University of California, San Francisco-Mission Bay, as well as impending Pier 70 redevelopment and the siting of the Golden State Warrior’s Arena, will add to the pressure. SFMTA’s current initiative aims to study whether or not RPP, as it’s currently structured, fits with the City’s livability goals.

“We’re trying to look at the immediate issues and two to ten years in the future,” said Hank Wilson, SFMTA manager of parking policy. “There’s more development coming and not every unit of housing is going to have a parking spot. This is going to attract more people who are interested in living a car-free lifestyle.”

A Dogpatch resident since 1985, Edward Elhauge owns and occupies a building at Tennessee and 22nd streets. He was part of a group that opposed a 2012 SFMTA pilot project that also involved adding paid parking. “It’s difficult to deal with both the SFMTA and the DNA leadership because they don’t seem to care about people who have lived here for a long time,” Elhauge said. “I’m concerned about the displacement of people who live here and still need cars to go to work or take their kids to school.”

SFMTA is analyzing 2,310 parking spots in the area. The current proposal includes an experimental RPP-meter overlay, which would add paid parking for non-residents at spots that also carry RPP. As many as 626 RPP-meter overlay spots could be added in areas north of 19th Street, including on Indiana, Minnesota, Tennessee, Third, and 18th streets. Additionally, 615 time-limited spots and 423 paid spots could be added between 19th and Cesar Chavez streets. The proposal would reduce unregulated parking by 1,748 spots, leaving only 100 unregulated spots in the area. Proposed changes to parking regulations on 22nd Street are pending.

According to Hank Wilson, SFMTA is still getting input from DNA, neighbors and business owners; the proposals are tentative and subject to change.  Still, some residents are concerned that after the pilot project is over the RPP will be removed, with just the paid parking retained.

“It’s evolving into a parking management plan,” Wilson added. “We don’t want to force anything on anyone. We want to work with the community. Almost every neighborhood would benefit from updates, so it’s more about finding the neighborhoods that are interested. The Dogpatch seems like an interesting place to try out some new parking ideas.”

Though meters are one of the easiest regulations to enforce, people often have a negative initial reaction to them. “Meters are a scary word for everyone,” Wilson clarified. “If we are going to move forward, paid parking is a more acceptable way to describe it. We would like to add paid parking without physical meters so that we won’t have to take the meters out if the pilot doesn’t work.”

Nicky Jacobson, a Tennessee and 18th street resident, is organizing northern Dogpatch residents to oppose the RPP-meter overlay proposal, outlining her concerns at  “RPP is done by petitioning the block to get over 50 percent resident support. With this pilot program, they’re not doing it by petition process. This enables the SFMTA to have license to do whatever they want in any neighborhood they want,” Jacobson said.

She believes that with all of the high-rise residential development, the neighborhood will need new regulations within the next two years. One strategy could be to make all RPP spots for northern Dogpatch one-hour time limited for non-residents. She added that the RPP renewal process should be weighted in favor of existing residents, who could have access to permits before those moving into new construction, arguing that the recent arrivals are aware of parking shortages and can more easily opt out of car ownership. Jacobson would also like to change RPP eligibility to include both businesses and residents, to help local merchants stay afloat.

Elhauge hopes to be able to continue to live in the neighborhood and that other long-time residents won’t get pushed out by the paid parking regulations. “The people who are pro-meter say that they’ve managed to live without a car by taking Uber,” he said. “There’s not a lot of compassion for those with limited incomes, the elderly, families, or disabled people. We’ve been told we should just move out of the neighborhood if we don’t like it; that’s shocking to me. Here in the Dogpatch we don’t even have a grocery store nearby within walking distance.”

According to Elhauge, a better way to manage the parking shortage than monetizing street parking would be to create commuter lots on Iowa Street next to Caltrain. “Basically, what it comes down to is that our neighborhood can deal with its own activity but can’t deal with being the parking lot for public transit commuters,” Elhauge added.

In its effort to evaluate the RPP program, SFMTA will be gathering data on parking demand, effectiveness of alternative transportation options, and parking supply, both on and off-street. Despite some residents’ desire for more off-street parking, that element won’t be included.

“SFMTA is not in the business of building parking lots or garages. We want more people to walk, take transit, and bike,” Wilson said.

This is part one of a two-part series.