Mayor Ed Lee described his double-parking epiphany.

There on one block of Valencia Street were three double-parked vehicles, he told supervisors at the mayor’s monthly visit to the board on Tuesday. The drivers, he realized, had no regard for the law.

It was at that moment, the mayor said, that he vowed to never again double-park.

Moreover, he promised himself, as he drove around the city on official business, he would use his security detail to ticket double-parked vehicles.

“It’s not just a passing issue, it is dangerous on our streets,” Lee said.

The exchange was part of the mayor’s answer to District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener’s question about what Lee would do to mitigate double-parking.

What the mayor and the supervisors are discovering, however, is that double-parking is likely to endure for awhile.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is researching how many parking control officers are needed for the Department of Parking and Traffic to effectively patrol the city’s streets.

To do so, the agency is developing a “data driven” approach to enforcement based on parking activity, citations and complaints among other factors, according the SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose.

This should be completed by summer 2014, and will go far to update enforcement, according to Rose.

In the interim, to increase or at least maintain its enforcement levels, the SFMTA intends to hire 27 more enforcement officers to make up for officers who quit or retire, Rose said.

Modernizing enforcement practices is necessary, said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA. Especially for San Francisco, which is second only to Manhattan in having limited parking.

“It makes more sense to send forces to where there are violations,” Shoup said. “In Los Angeles, it’s called ‘guided enforcement.’”

Because of its density, San Francisco relies on street parking to a far higher degree than Los Angeles, Shoup said. It’s conceivable that someday there would be no street parking where there is transit, since double- parking slows buses and stops streetcars.

In the meantime, Lee said he will confer with the transportation agency and the police to “identify how we can change the culture to make our streets safer for all modes of transportations while fostering a more transit-friendly San Francisco.”

Lee also offered to work with the supervisors to find more resources for enforcement.

Wiener expects San Francisco to improve.

“It’s just a matter of focus,” Wiener said in an email, adding that he wants the agency to prioritize double- parking. He said that if the agency needs more officers, hiring needs to be a priority.

“The agency is currently treading water and replacing attrition,” he wrote.

Alexander Mullaney

Alexander Mullaney is a journalist and publisher in San Francisco. In 2008, he founded The Ingleside Light, a monthly neighborhood newspaper with a circulation of 10,000. In The Ingleside Light he reports...

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  1. This is what Mission needs: Extension of the bus-only lane down through the Mission neighborhood. SFMTA can accomplish this, like, next week. Then enforce the hell out of the double violation (blocking a transit-only lane and double parking).

  2. I don’t suppose anybody will try to combat double parking by providing adequate parking. No that would be too logical.

    1. It seems logical, but.. do you have any idea how much parking actually costs, especially in a city where land is this precious?

      If you’ve ever wondered why all of the market-rate housing skews towards the high end, it’s because neighbors routinely block anything that doesn’t include ample parking, and it turns out it’s pretty much impossible to be affordable while including the cost of parking:

    2. Yea, I’ve had to double park on mission before. I don’t even own a car, but I’ve used zip cars to deliver stuff to/from mission st. I wish they would raise the parking meter prices so that there’s more turnover on mission.

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