SFMTA to Intensify Neighborhood Parking Regulations

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As parking pressures continue to build in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill due to increased housing density, growing commuter traffic, and expanded activity at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency has been working with neighborhood stakeholders to implement more stringent parking management regulations. Over the past several months meters have been installed on many blocks in Showplace Square.  SFMTA is expected to continue to hold meetings with the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association and the Potrero Boosters, with the goal of creating parking management plans that’re supported by residents and businesses. The measures parallel SFMTA’s ongoing citywide evaluation of its 40-year old Residential Parking Permit program.

“We’ll be initiating more conversations with neighbors about how to manage the curb,” said Andy Thornley, senior analyst, SFMTA. “Meters will be a small piece, along with other tools. It’s more than just RPP, time limits and meters; it’s also about traffic calming and making the curb safer for residents, businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.”

Since last summer, four hour time limited parking restrictions have been added to much of Showplace Square, along with meters on Kansas and Divisions streets and the block surrounding Showplace East. Additional meters are slated for 16th Street between Vermont and Seventh streets as well as Henry Adams Street, once 1 Henry Adams, a residential complex, is completed. Due to sidewalk improvements that’re underway, 16th Street will have four hour time limits in the interim, with meters likely installed next year.

“The price of the meters can still be modified,” Thornley explained. “We’ll be watching the occupancy rates and thinking about reducing the price if there’s too much available parking. If there’s not enough parking we’ll raise the rate. So far it seems that the rate needs to go down, but a basic study will be done to evaluate.”

According to Thornley, local business owners and California College of the Arts representatives have noticed improved parking access for customers and the College’s community members since the restrictions have been incrementally implemented. However, with the Showplace Square limits added there’s been a significant reduction in unregulated parking in parts of Potrero Hill, especially in the neighborhood’s northern end on 17th, Carolina and Arkansas streets.

“Our area is a historically unregulated parking magnet for people coming up from the Peninsula with cars, who then park and bike or take transit to SoMa or elsewhere in the City,” said J.R. Eppler, Potrero Boosters president. “Now that we have more retail and more residential development the problem has only been exacerbated. At Showplace the meters and time limits are designed to meet the needs of their business community. It has now created more problems for the Hill’s unregulated parking.”

SFMTA’s interactions with the Potrero Boosters on a parking management plan are still in its inception. According to Eppler, a neighborhood parking survey was conducted; the preliminary analysis indicates that people who live and work in regulated areas feel positively about existing restrictions.  However, people who reside in unregulated areas are dissatisfied. He cited the northern section of the neighborhood bounded by 15th and 17th streets and Vermont and Mississippi streets as likely difficult to regulate due to diverse uses with distinct parking management needs, as opposed to the blocks just south, between Mariposa and 17th streets, that should be easier to regulate as the area is mainly residential.

“It’s a lengthy process,” Eppler added. “MTA needs to come up with a proposal for how each block will be regulated, and then we’ll go back to the community for input. We’ve been ambitious in our timeline, but there’s limited parking staff at the MTA so it will be an ongoing process throughout this calendar year.”

After numerous meetings with SFMTA and DNA regarding the parking management plan and several revisions to proposals, more meetings are anticipated early this year to reach closure on a Dogpatch parking strategy, though none are currently scheduled. Hank Willson, SFMTA parking policy manager, stressed the importance of reaching consensus with neighborhood stakeholders before conducting outreach to the wider community about the changes ahead.

“There has definitely been progress on both sides, so we’re getting close,” said Willson. “A much more diverse group of stakeholders has been actively working on a slightly revised proposal. So far there are no revolutionary revisions. Parking meters on commercial spots will create turnover for businesses, increased RPP on the many residential streets, and time limits in Light Industrial areas. One small change is that where there were four hour time limits for visitors in RPP areas, there’ll be two hour time limits instead, which applies to most of the blocks with RPP and time limits now. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the change will be.”

Willson spoke of unique aspects to Dogpatch’s parking challenges. The neighborhood has five Muni facilities, which employ a large workforce alongside other Light Industrial activities prevalent in the area. These jobs require workers to have a vehicle, often a truck or other large transport, and early morning work schedules. This reality creates a particular demand for parking in Dogpatch that’s not experienced in other City neighborhoods, compounded by proximity to the Caltrain Station and the associated influx of commuters seeking parking.

“We think that we will have something that the whole community can get behind,” expressed Willson. “The goal is to regulate everything. You don’t want to regulate half of it and leave the rest of the area unregulated as it pushes the problem to other blocks.”