For nearly three hours, citizens at a public hearing expressed unanimous outrage in their opposition to a proposal to install hundreds of parking meters in the Mission. Afterward, a city transit official said that minor changes would be considered, but recommended that the city approve the new meters.

“Unbelievable. Those three hours were a waste of our time,” said Hannah McFaull of Pirate Press in the Potrero Hill District. “They made their decision after talking for five minutes, without taking our comments into consideration.”

The meters will be placed throughout the northeast Mission and other southeastern neighborhoods.

Hearing officer John Newlin said he made his decision based on the project’s merits.

“It’s not a numbers game,” he said, referring to the number of people who spoke in opposition at the public hearing at City Hall. “It’s doing what’s best for the situation.”

The proposal calls for the installation of hundreds of parking meters from South Van Ness to Potrero Avenue and Division to 19th Street. The meters would have no time limits and would operate Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Newlin and staff from the city’s SF Park project decided to revisit proposed changes on Shotwell from 15th to 16th streets and on 15th between Folsom and Shotwell, because those blocks are residential. Those revisions, which may include residential parking permits, will be unveiled when the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) board of directors considers the proposal in February.

The parking meters were conceived as a way to solve the on-street parking shortage created by the construction of a park on a city-owned lot at 17th and Folsom streets.

Residents and business owners, many of whom took the morning off to attend the hearing, asked the SFMTA to work with them, saying they had only recently found out about the proposal.

They argued that it was developed without taking into account that the northeast Mission and the southeastern neighborhoods include commercial, industrial, residential and other live and work spaces.

“They can install parking meters in their heads for all I care, but we need residential parking permits,” Marc Glom said. “I already pay $12,000 to the city in taxes; I am not going to give them more quarters.”

The news that for the most part the parking meters would not be reconsidered outraged residents. They called the process undemocratic and arbitrary.

“Let’s call it what it is,” one resident said, referring to the new revenue the meters will bring in. “It’s a money grab.”

The parking situation in the northeast Mission is chaotic in the daytime but manageable at night, residents said. It is a favorite parking area for out-of-town commuters who work downtown, people who sleep in their cars, and bus drivers who don’t want to pay for parking at the Muni yard at 17th and Bryant streets. In some areas, the only restriction is for street sweeping once a week.

Jay Primus of SFPark argued that the proposal is consistent with the city’s transit-first policy, which encourages people to take public transit, walk or bike. Furthermore, Primus said, adjusted pricing, which adjusts the price of the meters depending on demand, could reduce the number of people circling around the neighborhood looking for parking.

Ann Colichidas speaks out against a proposal to install hundreds of meters in the Mission.

Primus said that rates would start at 25 cents an hour, and the fact that the meters will not have time limits means that people can potentially park all day.

Some residents laughed at the idea.

“Twenty-five cents an hour sounds good, but how long will that last?” asked Ann Colichidas.

Residents argued that once the parking meters are installed, there will be no going back. Trimark, a kitchen equipment company in Potrero Hill, threatened to leave the city.

Even some who might benefit from a faster parking turnaround oppose the proposal. San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) on 15th Street, for example, believes new meters could deter people from volunteering, an official said.

Rebecca Katz, SFACC’s director, said the SFMTA should enforce its own rules, such as not allowing people to sleep in their cars and asking Muni drivers to pay for parking.

Residents said the SFMTA is not keeping its end of the bargain when it comes to putting transit first. They argued that Muni service is poor and that for many business and residents, taking transit is not an option.

The SFMTA board is set to hear the proposal again at 1 p.m. on Feb. 7, in Room 416 of City Hall.

Follow Us

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

Join the Conversation


Please keep your comments short and civil. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Scott’s probably right. We need to allow millionaires to buy up all the parking spaces and rent them out at market rates. Probably residents will sell to wealthier buyers, and the neighborhood will just become a nicer place for lawyers and such to live.

  2. I fully support more parking fees in principle, and I really like the idea of variable rates that keep the supply of spots roughly equal to the demand. If anything this will help businesses as it will discourage people leaving a car in place for a full week.

    Also, I think all parking permits based on residency should be ended. Car owners who live in the city should pay market rates for the public space they are using, just like everybody else.

    And to those who articulate the need and value of parking in the city: If parking is so valuable, then you should be willing to pay for it. And if you are not willing, then you probably don’t value it as much as you claim. Only one way to find out!

    1. If there are problems with people storing a car for a week, put up signs establishing a 24-hour limit. The key words in your post are “in principle”. What happens when your utopia becomes a practical reality? Things developed with the current parking place since the beginning. Businesses chose this neighborhood and grew in part because the parking was easy and free. People rented apartments based on the street parking. You play god in their lives when you suddenly decide that things are going to be different and in a matter of months plan to install parking meters. It’s easy to say what should be, that we should all glide to work on our personal progressive chi and karma, but that’s not how it works. But when you implement a draconian parking plan, you create tectonic shifts in neighborhoods, we lose businesses, and people lose jobs.

    2. The property taxes or high rents residents pay afford them priority over non-residents who commute into the city from lower cost areas.

  3. I’m always incredulous when I read about San Francisco’s “transit first” policy that doesn’t allow new buildings to have adequate parking and does everything to discourage car use in the name of “transit” — yet the city can not provide the fundamental element of this policy — GOOD PUBLIC TRANSIT! If Muni were reliable and pleasant, then fine … banish the cars. But to banish cars and provide no adequate alternative is not a workable solution. If you go and apply for a permit to open a small business and you get just ONE individual citizen curmudgeon, that individual can hold up the process indefinitely. But if you get a whole neighborhood with a singular voice against an MTA proposal, it doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference.

  4. I live in the Southeast part of the city and take public transportation whenever possible. However, the “all stick, no carrot” approach of SFMTA is arrogant and unworkable. If MUNI was reliable and safe to ride at night, I wouldn’t need a car. However, it’s not, and I do.

    1. I’m with you on that one. San Francisco has become the most unlivable city in the country.

      I’m a small business owner and I’ve lived here 10 years and finally decided it is just not with it.

      Once you get past your 20s and your whole life doesn’t revolve around bars and parties, there’s less and less reason to live here.

  5. this is the kind of arbitrary decision made by appointees not elected officials and malia cohen, whose district 10 is primarily effected, as done very, very little to help her soon to be re-election voting pool. come to feb mtg & help make this a real DEMOCRACY response. MIC CHECK! anyone?!

  6. I have never seen the neighborhood so upset and so many people agreeing on anything in my 20 years here. SFMTA has made a lot of enemies for life in record time. Their tone-deafness and textbook cliche responses to the actual people who live in the neighborhood (and zero community outreach or input) is very telling. This could be the straw that tips the camel and causes a major overhaul of SFMTA. But at the expense of the neighborhood is really, really sad.

  7. Talk to your supervisor people. Burecrats give 2 craps about anybody’s complaints at a hearing. The way our system works, the elected officials are accountable to the people and the bureaucrats are accountable only to elected officials.

    I guarantee you that if this district’s voters call, meet, fax, email and get in front of the supervisor, this will be nixed….

      1. Incorrect. The board has to be approved by the supervisors and let’s not forget the budget. There is plenty of supervisor power over the SFMTA to make it worth your while calling your supervisor.

        “The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is governed by the seven-member SFMTA Board of Directors that is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Board of Supervisors”

  8. This is not about cars and free parking. This is about a series of vibrant communities not being allowed to have input on what happens on their own streets. SFMTA just doesn’t care.

  9. There are many reasons local families may need cars in this neighborhood. A school assignment system which makes getting into a local walkable school luck of the draw, and reduced services in school busing thanks to recent budget cuts. I think the parking meters are fine for people who are visiting the neighborhood. But, for people who live here there should be an option to purchase an annual neighborhood parking permit and locals should be allowed to park at any meter spot with the permit. It is unfair to ask the locals to pay for a meter on a daily basis. The folks who live in wealthier neighborhoods, already have neighborhood permits in place.

  10. This is good. People who live in San Francisco and own cars should pay a high price for owning what is essentially a gigantic private luxury vehicle. To that end, I support these meters. Tourists can afford the parking meters, and they will help discourage vagrants. A good measure all around.

  11. “The parking meters were conceived as a way to solve the on-street parking shortage created by the construction of a park at a city-owned lot at 17th and Folsom Streets.”

    Do the residents want another park? Nix the park until the economy gets back on track. We need jobs in the neighborhood that depend on parking, not more parks.

  12. I fully support this measure. I think it is only fair for people who park their vehicle on public land to pay for it.

    1. Exactly. As always, the problem with “public comment” rant fests is that many of us want to see our streets improved and our city to sensibly manage its common spaces. But at the same time, we’re not foaming-at-the-mouth rabid enough to come out and face down the “we’ve got ours, how dare you take it away” fanatics. Whoever was whining about this not coming out of a democratic process should be laughed out of town.

    2. Isn’t public land already paid for by public funds? I don’t park on the street, but aren’t you tired of them finding new ways to tax residents without calling it a tax?

  13. I attended this hearing and SFMTA’s actions and behavior was condescending, and arrogant. These people are creating tectonic changes in neighborhoods they know nothing about. Jay Primus, prime architect of the plan, lives in Berkeley.