Feed Meters? Never on Sunday

En Español

For comments from all of those polled, please see the map below.

In a rage that crossed economic and cultural lines, the vast majority of 131 businesses interviewed in the Mission District had this message for Mayor Gavin Newsom: Keep Sunday parking free.

“I pay enough to the city already,” said Shula Ben-Simon, the owner of Lipstick Salon Beauty Shop on Mission Street, sometimes speaking in language not fit for print. “People are not coming and now they [definitely] won’t come … Tell Gavin to come here!”

Jeff Farnsworth, the owner of Farnsworth Gallery on Valencia Street, added, “The last thing you want to do is worry about parking on Sundays.”

The proposal to extend meters citywide was conceived by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to help offset SFMTA’s $16.9 million deficit.

Newsom told reporters earlier this month that he is considering asking drivers to feed the meters on Sundays because businesses have told him that it could help with turnover. He is opposed, however, to extending parking meter hours on weekdays. An attempt in July by Oakland to extend weekday meter hours there failed after merchants revolted.

When the SFMTA conducted its “stakeholder interviews” last year, the agency concluded that businesses approved — with some modifications — of paid Sunday parking.

The SFMTA survey, however, failed to reach into the Mission District and most merchants
were surprised the mayor was considering such a proposal.

Mission Loc@l surveyed 131 businesses late last week and found 80 percent or 106 out of 131 opposed the idea, 20 were undecided and five approved of the proposal.

The survey included interviews with owners or employees of those businesses on Valencia Street from Duboce to 19th street, and on Mission Street from 19th to 26th streets—the same blocks included in the SFMTA study.

Some Mission merchants suggested that instead of charging for parking, Muni should first fix its own problems.

“Muni needs to solve their internal problems first,” said Ivan Lopez, the owner of the Artillery Apparel Gallery on Mission Street, who bikes to work but sometimes drives. “They shouldn’t disperse their problems onto everyone else.”

Salvador Iñiguez, an employee at Modern Hair Cuts on Mission Street, gave the MTA some advice.

“Why don’t they just increase the fare evasion ticket and make it $500,” said Iñiguez, who relies on Muni to get to work.

Even those who approved of the idea, expressed skepticism. “It is socially responsible to ask drivers to pay more if the added revenue actually goes towards service, but not if it goes towards mismanagement,” said Wayne Whelam, the founder of Therapy on Valencia Street.

Other merchants who were opposed said they are already struggling to get customers and Sunday meters would make luring any into their shops more difficult.

“People won’t even want to come to the Mission,” said Hector Mejiva, the manager of Libreria Cristiana Restauracion on Mission Street. “They’ll probably go to South San Francisco or Daly City.”

Check Chew Ng, the owner of A.C. Trading Co. on Mission Street, said, “On Sunday the whole family likes to come to the Mission. They go to mass, eat at a restaurant after and then shop without worrying about parking. If they get a ticket, it’ll ruin the whole day.”

Specialty stores, nightclubs and pawnshops would fare worst because most of their customers drive, merchants said.

Design of Feature Photo and Map by Rick Wallace

“It is ridiculous — they are pushing small businesses out,” said Sabis Deligiorgis, the owner of Hellenic American Greek Imports on Mission Street.

“Most of our customers who come here are driving because they are pawning big items,” said Jose Manoragon, the manager of Best Collateral on Mission Street.

Others found it unsettling that the city wants to take money from a working class neighborhood.

“These guys are worse than the communists,” said Mario Ruiz, an employee at La Internacional on Mission Street referring to the city’s plans.

“Things are already bad,” said Welmer Rivas, an associate at La Guadalupana Jewelry. “They are always taking money from the poor.”

Four of the five who said they favored extended hours were on Valencia Street.

“I think Muni is great,” said Sal Alioto, a customer service representative at Mission Bicycle Company who bikes to work. “It would be great to support it as long as they expanded meter hours in a responsible and thoughtful way – they would work pretty well.

But such remarks were rare and even those whose stores close after 6 p.m., and on Sundays opposed the idea. Some expressed distrust of all city operations.

“Everything that the municipality is doing is lies,” said Alberto Garibotto, the owner of Alberto’s Printing on Mission Street.

Anwar Hanhan, the owner of Shop & Shop Market on Mission Street, said the city should be helping small businesses instead and thinks only City Hall would benefit.

“San Francisco’s already broke — it’s only going to help the crooks who came up with the idea,” he said.

Others like Anthony Montero, the owner of Margot Castro Professional Center on Mission Street, are undecided but ambivalent.

“Unless every other place is doing it, it’s a bad idea,” he said.

For representative comments see the PDF Viewable map here.
For comments from all of those polled, please see the Google map below and click on the icon.

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34 Comments

  1. Greg

    Extremely Interesting Article. Thanks Mission Local for some provocative local journalism. It sticks in my mind the absolute disparity between the stake holders responses when SFMTA asks the questions, and when your journalist do.

  2. Joel

    The results of this survey seem quite skewed. There would be more green on that map if more businesses on Valencia St. had been surveyed.

    • WE surveyed every open business on Valencia, but if you know of places that we missed, please let us know. If you have an opinion and are also on Valencia Street, just post your view and we will add it to the map. Thank you, Lydia Chavez, ME

  3. ANOTHER great article by the folks at Mission Local. Where did y’all come from? You are doing a great job.

  4. Hi Lydia, thanks for your work looking deeper into this. I’m surprised by the results. Could you give more detail on what questions were asked? Do you have a “question statement” or something of the sort?

    Thanks.

    Mike

  5. tizzielish

    I know this is a blog focused on the Mission District so I guess that is why you present the Sunday parking issue as a Mission issue .. but it seems to me that this blog post makes it sounds like the Mission District is being persecuted and singled out. This is not really a Mission-centric issue.

    Whether or not business owners do or do not like to have paid parking in front of their businesses is only one, narrow aspect of the matter. Why do cities have parking meters? And why are Sundays treated differently? And how is Sunday going to meaningfully change the business opportunities for these businesses?

    All these businesses deal with paid parking meters all week long. Has Sunday become a day of bigger business revenues because of free parking? I doubt it. In fact, I doubt if free parking or paid parking on Sunday has much, if anything, to do with these businesses.

    Who does the street parking belong to? It belongs to the city, its residents. There isn’t enough street parking for all to park on the street all the time so we charge to park to apportion the amenity. Businesses actually benefit from paid parking. If the parking in front of their businesses were free all the time, cars would park there all the time and customers would not be able to get to the businesses. Paid parking actually serves business owner by ensuring that the ebb and flow of customers can actually ebb and flow.

    I bet most cars parked in free spots on Sunday stay there all day long. Did the business owners who responded to your ‘survey’ seriously believe that the lucky Mission resident who scored a free parking space late Saturday evening is going to get up and move that car on Sunday . . .just so people pawning stuff on Sundays can use the parking spot?

    This is a weird tempest, presentedly in a biased, uninformed manner.

    I think a journalist could analyze the situation by observing Sunday parking patterns in front of a single business. . . by measuring the parking realities. ..

    I find the comments asking for pity for the ‘poor’ in the Mission repugnant. I don’t think people who come to the Mission to ‘go to church’ and then have lunch and then ‘shop’ are poor residents of the Mission . . they are coming into the area, right?
    I think the ‘poor’ would directly benefit from paid Sunday parking if paid Sunday parking helps Muni deal with its budget problems because the ‘poor’ depend on Muni whereas the folks driving into the Mission for Sunday fun don’t use Muni.

    • You are right in saying this is not simply a Mission District issue. The story was assigned after two other stories–one by us and one by another site–that looked at the issue and really conflicted. I felt that both simply talked to too few businesses and that it would be worth our time to try and go door to door. The response and the level of anger surprised us. The story reflects what people said. Often the press is critiqued for reporting only one side of the story or letting the squeaky wheel do the talking. We thought we would let everyone have their say, which is why we offered the reader both representative comments and the entire comment data base. If anyone on Mission and Valencia on the same blocks, feels they have been left out, we would welcome their comments and we would add them to the map. What also interested me about the results, is that the reaction crossed cultural and economic lines. Many of the businesses we interviewed have no web sites so we could not link to them, but often even those with a web site and the ability to walk to work, had the same view. I wish we could do the whole city. Maybe someone would like to fund that project. If so, we would be happy to take it on. Best, Lydia Chavez, Managing Editor.

  6. mcas

    What was the actual question asked? If it was framed as ‘charge car drivers for Muni’ — of course they oppose it. If you pointed out that parking meters are good for turnover, which HELPS business, these numbers would’ve been very different, I imagine.

  7. Parker

    I find parking in the Mission on Sundays nearly impossible BECAUSE there is no meter charge. People ditch their cars and leave them for the day. Meters create turnover which creates parking. If you are angry at being charged for parking in The City then you should either move to the burbs or not own a car. It is that simple.

  8. Jen

    Am I missing something on the map, or was all of Valencia past 19th ignored? Because I would heavily doubt this was every open business on Valencia. There are a significant number of businesses between 19th & Cesar Chavez that I would have really liked to see responses from.

    • We picked the blocks that the SFMTA study focused on–Valencia Street from Duboce to 19th streets, and on Mission Street from 19th to 26th streets. Given the reaction, it might be worth looking beyond those blocks.
      Thank you, Lydia, ME

  9. Thank you for providing me with a list of businesses not to patronize.

    Businesses not listed here.
    Little Star, Weird Fish, Valencia Cyclery, Pi Bar, Natural Resources, Papalote, Zeitgeist, Pakwan. All places with a HUGE walking/cycling clientele. I call BS on this survey.

  10. Dave Snyder

    Of course nobody wants to pay for parking on Sundays. If you asked them if they wanted free ice cream…

    Did you ask them if they want to see bus service cut to make up for the lost revenue?

    In any good political poll, you also ask, “if you knew that…, how would you feel?”

    If the merchants knew that free parking on Sundays shows no correlation whatsoever to business on Sundays, they might prefer to have better bus service. Just sayin’.

  11. roboSFO

    Metering creates more turnover and makes more parking spaces available to more customers. I don’t know what these business owners are thinking.
    This whole Sunday thing is leftover from when everyone went to church and all the stores were closed. To me, sunday is just like any other day. No free parking!

  12. Note that a large number of the people interviewed are employees who drive into the store. Conflict of interest – they don’t want to feed the meters themselves.

  13. Sue

    All the readers should read the study conducted by the SFMTA on expanded hours of parking meter enforcement. On the last page, you can see that even on the West Side of the City, in West Portal, 59 percent of the patrons at stores in that neighborhood arrive by means other than cars. And overall throughout the city, pedestrians and transit riders spend more per month in purchases than do car drivers.

  14. mcas

    Lydia: I still have yet to hear what was the actual ‘poll’ you conducted. What was the question you asked them? Did you mention that studies show that less than 25% of shoppers in the mission drive– as listed in the report you reference?

    Sounds like a hatchet job of a ‘study’ – sounds more like a ‘push poll’…

    • So sorry. It wasn’t a scientific survey, but extended interviews to cover the following ground: Extended hours, Sunday parking, and the Muni deficit. If someone was for or against extended hours or Sunday parking, why or why not. We asked about a middle ground–opting for some variation of new parking fees. We asked how they got to work, how employees got to work, We started out asking also if they agreed with the mayor that Sunday parking would help businesses because of the turnover it would generate. But we found that few of those interviewed had heard about the proposal so we had to explain. We talked with them about the new revenue that such a change would bring in and whether they thought it would help Muni’s deficit. We asked whether most of their customers drove in and if they thought the proposal would help, hurt or not affect business. These were conversations and in a sense, as a reporter, you listen and ask questions based on what someone is telling you, but we definitely wanted to cover all of the above. The interesting thing is that often people were against the idea even though they were closed after six or on Sundays. You can see those contradictions in the quotes. Maybe exploring why there is such anger and distrust will be worth a second story because it was surprising. Hope this helps. If you’d like to come along on an interview the next time around, let us know and we’ll contact you. It’s an interesting way to get a sense of the neighborhood. Best, Lydia

  15. glen matlock

    Progressives complain that they are persecuted at every turn, while trying to perfect the rest of us with their laws.

    They are upset that the nation has immigration laws and a foreign policy they loath, but they think nothing of taxing and fee-ing us into conformity for our own good.

    The city is a mismanaged mess, to make up for progressive failure they always come begging for more.

  16. David

    In this case, I don’t think massive deficits resulting from the state yanking transit funding and an absolute refusal to make drivers pay the true cost of driving has anything to due with “progressive” failure.

  17. Pricy Parker

    Sunday metering is just the start. What about the “flexible rates” (a.k.a. extravagant hourly pricing) they’re going to charge under the recently unveiled SF Park program? You’ll always be able to find street parking with SF Park (even in high demand areas) because they’ll raise rates so high that only the wealthy will be able to afford the new meter rates. Is this a solution, or is this social engineering (allowing only the rich to drive in SF)?? The City treasury is ultimately the real beneficiary of these policies. These two projects should be considered part of the same negative trend.

  18. glen matlock

    Poor David, making drivers pay the “true cost” is an entertaining talking point, get that from the Bay Guardian?

  19. glen matlock

    Here’s my idea, since the city has parking lots at; every school for the teachers, a parking garage for MUNI workers, reserved street parking for city hall workers, etc…

    As they in their travels and get free parking, not to mention the use of city cars, that should be the first place we cut.

    Rent out garages for city workers, make them take transit to work etc…

    The classism of our cities overlords is entertaining, and the fawning of its talking points spouters is hilarious, but the cutting needs to start at the useless top.

  20. Aaron

    “Worse than the [%^&*#$%] Communists”???

    I am so glad an employee said that and not the owner, or I’d be boycotting them for making such an absurd, insensitive comparison.

  21. Aaron

    Btw, Glen, in regard to your complete disregard of the notion that there might be a whole field of study behind what David mentioned, luckily SF Streetsblog posted today a very appropriate article (for starters):
    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/02/24/fun-facts-about-the-sad-state-of-parking-policy/#more-149581

    Think about educating yourself on the topic.
    Also read Donald Shoup, professor of Urban Planning at UCLA. He wrote “The High Cost of Free Parking” and is expressedly excited the SF MTA’s recent study which they unfortunately haven’t quite done enough outreach with yet.

  22. Aaron

    Oh, and, sorry I forgot to mention – I agree with you that government employees should be no exception to a good parking policy.

  23. lyqwyd

    On thing I found interesting in that streetsblog post was that curbside parking meters were actually introduced in 1935 by an Oklahoma City department store owner who wanted to increase parking turnover so that there would always be spaces available for his customers.

  24. glen matlock

    Aeron

    Much of the left and rights “experts” are just politicians by another name, they are with an agenda looking for an argument.

    My agenda is, leave people alone and stop treating them like cattle.

    All these schemes are so wearing, the progressives attempt at perfecting us through taxation, parking schemes, invasive laws, fines, fees, driving districts, etc… are wearing.

    I find the rights kooky schemes just as crazy, don’t want an abortion, don’t have one, don’t want to drive car, don’t.

    The progressive is different from the born again Christian exactly how? It’s all for my own good right?

  25. Aaron

    Must save yourself a lot of brain work that way, eh?

  26. Aaron

    “While merchants in the four neighborhoods thought that 72% of their customers “drove exclusively” to the neighborhood, over 70% of their customers walked, cycled, or took transit.” – Livable City on the SFCTA Parking Study

    • Thank you for your comments Aaron, they have been very insightful. To be fair the four neighborhoods you are referring to were Cow Hollow, West Portal, Hayes Valley, and Bernal Heights. What we have found in doing this article is that the SFMTA did not approach merchants in the Mission and the study also states that, “each neighborhood has unique parking conditions and needs.”

      Having said that, we relied on the word from the merchants on how many of their customers actually drove. It would be interesting if the MTA did a survey on the neighborhood. I am curious what the results of that surveyed would be.

      Anyway, thanks again. best, RH.

  27. Aaron

    True – but I would bet my top dollar that the Mission, being rich with transit and arguably the most popular district for bikes, has a similar mode-share for shoppers. Maybe even better?

    And yeah, I do wish the SFMTA did some outreach in the Mission before these kinds of misconceptions spread.

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