Church parking on Guerrero Street between 18th and 19th in September 2014. Photo by Elizabeth Zitrin

Mission District churchgoers who park in the middle of Dolores street on Sundays may be getting legal sanction from the city to continue their practice as early as next week.

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency’s board of directors will make a preliminary decision on Tuesday that could legalize the well-established but controversial practice of parking in the medians on Dolores and street on weekends.

The same occurs on Guerrero Street, but transit planners did not make a recommendation for changes to be made there.

The practice is not currently permitted but the agency has allowed drivers to park in the center median of the street for decades without penalty. Most of those who use the median for parking do so to attend services at one of the many churches in the area, though some parking is used by visitors to Dolores Park and to local merchants.

A nine-member citizen advisory group voted in February 4-3 to prohibit median parking entirely, but because of two absences and that the group did not reach a required five-vote majority, the agency’s staff is proposing a compromise that would allow the practice with some conditions.

Under the staff plan, which draws from advisory group suggestions, the transit agency would legitimize median parking but limit the times and places to restrict parking closer to the intersections and at nighttime. The changes, the agency said, would improve visibility in intersections and allow emergency vehicles to travel through the area more quickly.

At the end of a year-long pilot program, the transit agency would then examine whether the approach works by checking to see whether drivers obey the new restrictions and whether emergency response times through the area improve.

“We have heard from people on all sides…There is no solution that would make 100 percent of people happy,” said John Knox White, a transportation planner with the agency. “Our goal is to have clarity so citations are not having to be given.”

Among residents, however, a transit agency survey showed that the practice of median parking was deeply unpopular.

Though the board will be presented with the staff recommendation alongside several alternatives, it may vote to take no action at all.

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  1. Article is MISLEADING!

    ” getting legal sanction from the city to continue their practice as early as next week.”

    Wrong. They voted on, and approved, a motion to approve the development of the pilot program. That is all. The program will not be ready for quite some time (some say 6 months). In the meantime it is still 100% illegal to park in these areas.