Median parking. Photo via the SFMTA.

A citizen committee on Tuesday recommended forbidding all median parking, when drivers park their cars along the unpaved, planted center medians on Dolores and Guerrero streets. The recommendation will go to the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency’s board, which will decide what policy to put in place within the next 90 days.

The committee’s votes ultimately dismissed several alternative proposals that would have allowed but regulated median parking, which is currently illegal but goes unenforced.

The transit agency helped form the committee, comprised of local residents and leaders of faith-based communities, to address concerns about the unofficially sanctioned practice of worshippers and park goers parking on the medians on select blocks of Dolores and Guerrero streets. 

Thursday’s final meeting was attended by seven of the nine members of the task force. They recommended that the transit board convene meetings and help foster relationships between local churches and synagogues, as well as local businesses, to try to work out parking alternatives. Each member voted in favor of that recommendation, though some had reservations.

“Not all of the organizations have the finances to do something alternative,” said Gustavo Torres of the Mission Dolores basilica. “I’m not trying to be disrespectful of someone in the neighborhood, but we existed before there were even streets in the neighborhood.”

The committee also recommended that the transit agency should post clear information about parking rules on its website.

At the beginning of the meeting, it still looked like the committee might approve some form of parking along the medians. Transit agency staff had recommended a pilot program of parking along Guerrero Street and formalized median parking on Dolores Street.

The pilot program would have modified the informal rules governing parking in the area by increasing enforcement and increasing visibility at intersections by shrinking parking zones away from them. But while representatives from faith communities supported these compromises, neighborhood residents opposed them.

“We’ve already piloted it. It hasn’t worked,” said Elizabeth Zitrin, a committee member, in opposing those proposals.

“Our solutions do not match the spirit of what the neighborhood wants,” said committee member Gus Preston.

“I feel defeated,” said committee member Agnieszka Bernstein upon hearing the proposed compromises. She wholly opposed median parking.

The opposition to median parking carried the vote, and came as a disappointment to rabbi Ted Riter of congregation Sha’ar Zahav, who estimated roughly half of those who attend services or meetings there arrive by car. He called the committee’s vote “insulting.”

“I think the proposal today… would be crippling,” he said. “I’m aghast that the community members are so narrow-minded.”

Riter said he hoped the transit board would approve the proposals dismissed by the committee when it makes its own decision.

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  1. Something that really isn’t spoken of, is that it isn’t just Sunday. Its any day these guys have any events. Saturday at noon there were still cones disrupting the inner southbound travel lane on Guerrero at 23rd (BTW the Catholic Diocese has a parking lot a half block away on Fair Oaks). Friday nights on Guerrero there are often cars parked at the median creating gridlock to 20th.

  2. As a long-time member of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, my personal opinion is that our congregation must work harder to encourage public transit, walking, carpooling and/or use of taxis, thus leaving less of a footprint. The basic fact is that automobiles congest and pollute the neighborhood. San Francisco is a transit-first city. If a congregant has no other option but to bring a car into the neighborhood, in my view that doesn’t entitle that congregant to park the car on a median. Median parking eliminates a traffic lane, creating a danger to bicyclists and to others who use the street. The streets belong to all, not just to the good people of our congregation nor to the good people of the church around the corner.

  3. said Gustavo Torres of the Mission Dolores basilica. “I’m not trying to be disrespectful of someone in the neighborhood, but we existed before there were even streets in the neighborhood.”

    Careful there Gustavo, I think the early missionaries were not what would be considered ‘respectful’ when it came to the Yelamu.

  4. SFMTA surveyed people in the neighborhood–residents, businesses, park-users, congregants–and reported the results here:

    74% of residents favor the elimination of parking in the traffic lanes next to the medians on Guerrero and Dolores.

    The complete survey and results at length are here: