A plan to install parking meters in the northeast Mission, brought to a halt over a year ago by community opposition, has come back to life amid renewed skepticism from some residents and business owners.

“Parking is the most controversial topic that any neighborhood ever takes on,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, a transportation consultant helping the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency present its proposal to a fractious community.

In January of last year, the SFMTA unveiled plans to install new parking meters across the eastern neighborhoods of San Francisco, including the Mission. When residents of the Mission, Potrero Hill and other neighborhoods expressed strong opposition to the plan, the transportation agency rescinded the approval in order to gain more community input.

The original plan aimed to offset the loss of 220 parking spaces from eliminating a parking lot to make way for construction of a new park at Folsom and 17th streets that is slated to begin this summer. When residents expressed concerns about losing that parking, the SFMTA was asked to create a plan to address parking demand in the neighborhood.

After a year of research, the agency has drafted a new parking proposal for the northeast Mission, designed to decrease congestion and ease parking for residents, commuters and visitors. Meters on commercial and mixed-use blocks would charge 50 cents per hour, have no time limit and run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except for Sundays. The meters would accept coins, credit cards, SFMTA parking cards and PayByPhone.

Blanketing the area with meters might make it tougher still to find parking near home, residents said, who raised fresh concerns and made counterproposals.

“Residents can pay for bumper stickers allowing them to park in the area,” wrote Tony Kelly of the Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week. Kelly recommended creating a residential parking permit (RPP) zone, explaining, “If you have a permit sticker on your car, you don’t have to feed the meter.”

It’s unlikely, however, that residential permits will be allowed at metered spaces in lieu of plugging the meters, because that “would undermine the purpose and benefit to having meters, which is to provide some parking availability in commercial and mixed use areas,” according to current SFMTA proposal documents.

But the new plan would “significantly expand the amount of RPP in the area (on residential blocks) as well as expand eligibility so that even the few residents that live on a commercial or mixed use block that has meters can still obtain a RPP permit for the area.” All residents would be eligible for such a permit, said Tumlin.

Concerned local business owners also want to retain free parking spaces for their employees to use during full workdays, and for clients to use as needed. SFMTA representatives say the new plan is meant to decrease overall vehicle traffic in the Mission and benefit daytime visitors by deterring long-term parking.

One business proposal would create a commercial parking permit zone for businesses and their clients. Production, distribution and repair businesses, such as auto repair shops, have unique parking needs and could benefit from business parking permits. The SFMTA is currently studying this idea.

In his editorial, Kelly questioned the logic that meters without time limits would deter visitor parking.

“It’s also absurd if the goal truly is to discourage commuters,” he wrote. Yet according to the SFMTA, metered parking even without time limits deters some drivers. The goal is to ensure at least one open space on each block at all times, the agency says.

“There’s nothing that isn’t solvable here with parking permits,” said a local resident and business owner who was unconvinced that the new SFMTA data reflected community needs. “Everything else you’re talking about is screwing some aspect of the society over,” he said, adding that meters aren’t necessary in a neighborhood without a lot of retail businesses.

Community members have asked the SFMTA whether adding new parking spaces in the area is a possibility, and the agency’s planners are weighing that option. But creating new parking is out of step with the city’s “transit-first” vision, which promotes decreasing traffic congestion and encouraging public transportation use, SFMTA plans say.

Another goal of the new metering plan for the northeast Mission is to deter long-term parking by campers and oversize vehicles in the neighborhood, according to the SFMTA.

Building more bike corrals, adding new commercial and passenger loading zones, and removing zones that are obsolete are also up for consideration and community comment.

Unused curb cuts, or areas of a sidewalk or curb that are cut away to make space for an off-street parking space or driveway, might also be a source of new street parking. Residents who know of these unused spaces are encouraged to inform the SFMTA by emailing parkingplanning@sfmta.com.

The SFMTA’s outreach efforts also came under fire this week.

“Where’s your outreach to the Latino community?” demanded Mike Alonso of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club at a public meeting Thursday evening. “I have to count Supervisor Campos and the interpreter, and we’re not even at 10.”

Thursday’s meeting was the third in a recent series held by the SFMTA. Public comment is currently set to close on April 25. Once the final proposal goes to the SFMTA board for approval, the long-delayed plan could get under way as early as this summer.

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  1. The political support for the parking meters comes mostly from the anti-car folks, namely, the bike people. Why can’t we all be as righteous as them and abandon our motor vehicles? The answer: because not everyone—not even close to a majority, in fact—can afford to live that way. But if you have to drive and also have to park on the street in SF, you are a member of a despised class. You are only a source of revenue.

    1. Yup. I’ve even noticed where the city has repaved the bike lane portion of a street but left the pot-hole ridden car portion untouched (Sloat, Dewey). Tale of two cities…

  2. I live, manage and have managed businesses in the area in question . I don’t have a personal car and whenever I need one, I have a car share account (both for me and for the businesses). I walk, bike or take transit most of the time and it works just fine. You do not need a car most of the time and steadfastly refusing to understand this makes people all the more at risk of being displaced as living costs increase.

    1. Good for you, your life experiences are good enough for everyone.

      I have not owned a car in 20+ years, if I choosed to own one I don’t want to be gouged because of people with such complexes as you.

  3. I was at that meeting. A few simple notes:

    If we have meters, they are worthless w/o enforcement. I have been in this neighborhood for 24 years and have watched streets that used to have cars parking on sidewalks for weeks on end turn into beautiful tree zones. Never was there a parking meter near. There is no doubt in my mind, or any of my neighbors, that we will get a ticket if we park on the street for more than 1 hour w/o a permit. No meters needed. The meters are an unnecessary middleman. Permits will address what they say is the problem with far less cost.

    I am about as transit first as one can get. I also have a business and need a vehicle on the street. There are many who cannot work w/o a vehicle. So is the state of our society. Unless we ban parking all together, we will not eliminate the vehicles on the streets. Unless MUNI has better service (by a factor of 3 or 4) there cannot be a policy charging so much for parking and for fines. This improvement has to come before, not after, harsher regulations. It destroys the very fiber of the area, and the food out of the mouths of children quite literally.

    MUNI’s original reason was to improve parking after the 125 or so spaces in the lot on 17th and Folsom are gone. What they are proposing (1,500 meters) will eliminate at least 175 parking spots due to the length of spaces between meters. It is more likely it will loose 200 spots or more. This is not a way to improve parking problems, if that is truly why they are doing this!

    I think the MUNI people are well intentioned. I also believe they are so wrapped up in interpreting there often flawed data in a way that bends to what they think will help. This is very human. It’s easy to poke holes in the plans, and people have done just this. The MUNI people are unwilling to truly rethink the situation and realize that they are doing far more harm than good.

  4. They should check folk’s id’s when hearing the complaints. If you live in the area, you should welcome this as long as they give residents a card so they can park. Most of the people that are angry are the out of towners that now don’t get free parking. The problem with the mission parking is the folks from out of town that park their all day and commute downtown. These folks and their employers need to pay for garage parking or pay the new meters. I’m not a fan of the SFMTA, but the mission residents(me being one of them) should welcome some sort of change to free up parking and bike lanes for those that actually live here.

    1. Oh brother.

      Most areas of the Mission have time limits.

      I have lived in the Mission for 20+ years.

      This is just the city and it’s attempt to steal from the citizens.

  5. Here’s a deal: The City can install meters if they agree to insure the cars that park there against being vandalized, broken into, or stolen. Keeping us safe is the City’s job and if they want to charge us to park, they should at least be held accountable for the services we are paying them to provide.

  6. This is about raising money pure and simple.

    If the SFMTA’s purpose was to be responsible to the citizens they would have stopped a year ago and waited for the citizens to ask for a plan.

    Instead they need to raise money to pay for their terrible management and employee contracts.

  7. Supervisor Campos ended NE Mission/SFMTA march 21st meeting by stating that the timelines set by the SFMTA to coincide with the Folsom Street park opening are unrealistic given the community lack of support for their plan. He called for a more serious review of the area before moving forward with SFMTA plans, which they admitted are a draft proposal. Given the inaccurate data the SFMTA is using, it is time to go back to the drawing board. We are seeing a similar pattern emerging all over the city. The SFMTA was sent back to the drawing board at the end of the “Save Polk Street” meeting on Monday. Citizens all over the city are convinced that SFMTA is the problem, not the cars. They admitted they can’t fix the Muni and now they can’t seem to fix the traffic and parking problems. What do we need them for?

    1. Wait, isn’t Campos one of the very progressive who supports limiting parking spaces in new construction so that there’s even fewer parking spaces available as more residents come in?