San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency has released results of its survey about median parking in the Mission – the hotly debated practice of allowing worshippers at local institutions to park at the center or median of streets like Guerrero and Valencia for services. The survey’s project area covers all cross streets between Market and 24th Streets and Valencia and Church Streets.
The results are more or less predictable – citing fairness and safety concerns, the majority of residents (74 percent) support removing median parking, while a supermajority of congregants (95 percent) oppose removing median parking. Most “frequent park visitors” also came out against median parking, at 79 percent, even more strongly than residents in the affected area. Respondents were able to self-identify as residents, congregants, business owners, park user/ frequent visitor, or interested party.
“If we lost the ability to park on Guerrero median, it would SEVERELY affect my ability to attend my place of worship,” reads one open-ended survey question response recorded by the SFMTA. “…We tried to purchase a lot on 16th to turn into a parking structure, but the city did not allow us to do that, saying that there was enough parking available. Clearly there isn’t, or else we wouldn’t have this problem on Guerrero.”
“I know at least one church on Guerrero, near my house, serves a minority population. It would be a shame, as they get increasingly pushed out of the city due to gentrification, if the lack of parking made coming to the church prohibitive,” another respondent wrote.
“Those cars are hella dangerous… It creates this gauntlet where you have to continually slam on the brakes to avoid old people (who probably shouldn’t be driving) backing up, getting out of their cars, yelling at clouds, etc.,” another wrote.
“Median parking creates the perception that certain groups have special privileges to violate parking regulations,” wrote a fourth respondent. “If half the road capacity can just be taken away and given to free car storage, that says the roadway capacity is underutilized, and it’s not being used any better as car storage. Rather than free storage for steel cages, a better use of that space would be wider sidewalks, protected bike lanes, or parklets.”
“It is rather an important and complementary addition to the larger efforts of the Median Parking Advisory Committee and provides significant insight into the breadth of community perspectives on median parking issues,” the report’s authors wrote.
That nine-member committee was formed in May to come up with approaches to current median parking practice.
“It’s one input, and a very important input,” said Jon Knox White, a senior transportation planner. “We wanted them to have this information as they were making the recommendation. It’s also an input that (the transportation agency) will use in our considerations.”
The committee will make a recommendation for how the transportation agency should move forward, most likely toward the end of next week. After that, agency leaders have a window of 90 days to announce what action they intend to take. But Knox White emphasized that the agency would likely plan another opportunity for public input before taking concrete action.
“This isn’t just going to be nine people giving a recommendation and the MTA is going to run out and pound some signs into the ground,” he said. “It’s possible that even if we had the authority to just go out and do it there is likely to be a meeting somewhere that would happen before we just started making changes.”
Please note: There are slight discrepancies in percentages between different charts and reports depending on whether the percentage of all respondents or those considered “in the project area” (identified by their cross street) are included.