Parked cars along 21st and Mission Streets. Photo taken by Annika Hom, March 17, 2023.

Hi, there! We’re back with another installation of my ongoing development newsletter, Mission Moves. And this week is, indeed, a move — a move to move your cars. If you missed my recent enlightening piece about the Grand Theater sign relighting after 30 years, read it here. Let’s ride. 

The quest for parking

I wasn’t alive for the Gold Rush, but if I had to guess what it felt like to finally strike gold, I’d bet it feels pretty similar to finding an open street-parking spot in the northeast Mission. 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is acutely aware of residents’ complaints, which is why it has fashioned a “Northeast Mission Parking Management Project,” and will hold a public hearing about it on March 21 at 6 p.m. The agency proposed implementing new residential permits and timed parking spaces in the portion of the neighborhood spanning 21st Street to 13th Street/Division Street and from Valencia Street to Potrero Avenue. Some new parking spaces will become metered, or require payment — pretty much unheard of on this mostly residential side of the Mission. 

But where these particular spaces will be located varies widely. For you visual learners, the agency has published a diagram of the plan, and if you get past the fact it looks like scattered confetti, you might discern how you are affected. 

What you need to know

The new parking permit plan shown via a grid and a colorful legend of types of parking spaces.
The most updated version of the Northeast Mission Parking Management plan. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

While the transportation agency did not immediately provide the total number of new spots the plan creates, the diagram suggests hundreds of newly regulated spaces. 

Many of the new paid parking meters are concentrated near the nonresidential Best Buy and the University of California, San Francisco, office by 14th and Harrison streets, and the Potrero Bus Yard by Bryant and 17th streets. There are no time limits. (See the blue dashed spots.) Pink dashes demonstrate a mix of permit and paid spots. 

Many of the new spaces, however, will have two-hour time limits. Those with a permit won’t have to heed the time limit if they park in an area with “GG Area signage,” the agency said. A two-hour spot is actually an increase in the time limit for some spaces, currently limited to one hour. (See the spots delineated in green dashes.) Other locations, however, cut back the allowed times. See the orange dashed spots; those may replace, say, a 12-hour spot with a 4-hour spot. 

Some 4 hour spots are RPP permitted; others are not. For the former, according to the agency, RPP permit holders need not move their cars. But be warned: For the latter spots, you must move your car regardless of permits or not.

Time limits are enforced from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. So if you’re accustomed to keeping your car in the same spot until the once-a-week street cleaning starts, you may need to rethink your parking strategy. 

An annual residential car parking permit costs $165, and an annual motorcycle permit costs $83. Why get a permit? Permit holders can park at metered spots without paying at pay/permit spots. A household can have two permits, max, and businesses can have one per address and up to three per business vehicle. Certain jobs also qualify for a permit. 

There is no permit discount for low-income drivers, but a monthly payment plan, versus an annual fee, is being considered. The agency already foresees pushback on this matter, according to the post, likely because of deep income inequality in the eastern Mission

Parking meter rates start at 50 cents an hour, unless noted otherwise. 

Why is this happening?

What is this plan hoping to achieve? According to the agency’s post, it sounds like all the right things a driver would want to hear: “Residents can find parking where they live;” “people can find parking when they most need it;” “neighborhood businesses have the parking availability and loading space that they need to thrive.” 

And frankly, everyone complained about how hard it is to find parking. 

The agency argued parking restrictions will help “discourage car storage and stagnation at the curb” and free up more space. Meters also cause a disincentive, forcing people to think about how long they need to park, the agency added

According to Census Tract data compiled by our Golden Boy Will Jarrett, about 70 percent of residents living in the affected areas have one or more cars. While the data isn’t perfect — the affected census tracts bleed a little into Potrero Hill, for example — it gives an approximate idea that, conservatively, more than 3,000 cars are parked somewhere in the area. (The American Community Community survey dataset he used does not distinguish between garages or on-street parking.) 

Finding parking has become even more difficult according to some affordable housing residents Mission Local interviewed over the past year, especially as hundreds of units came online along 16th Street in the northeast Mission. A new affordable housing building is slated to open on Bryant Street as well. 

Last fall, a state law passed that nixes minimum parking requirements for affordable housing buildings within half a mile of public transit. This is in an effort to decrease the price of new developments — a parking lot can cost $40,000 — and expand capacity for housing. The restrictions also may help the city tackle environmental goals by encouraging transit over car travels. 

The addition of metered parking spaces is likely to raise some eyebrows, but could be a boon for the transportation agency. Roughly a third of Muni’s funding comes from parking revenue, said director of transit Julie Kirschbaum at a recent Manny’s event. As fares appear to have diminished, on-street parking can add to the agency’s coffers.

The transportation agency has sought  community input through a variety of meetings and office hours since 2019. But it’s not too late to weigh in — log on to that virtual public hearing on March 21 at 6 p.m. 

This article was updated on March 20 to clarify the use of permits and meter payment rates.

View the Northeast Mission Parking Management Project here

Learn about the public hearing here

Read more frequently asked questions here. If you are low-income and need help paying off a ticket, go here.


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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. If you live in this area, you will see how many people abuse the parking here. Some people own many cars to rent out on apps. Others hoard cars for the hell of it. If you cannot pay for street parking, then perhaps it is best to rethink why you own a car in the first place. And saying you need it for work — there are very few people who live in the Mission who need their cars for work. I see the same cars parked in the same spots all the time. Pay for your spots! And stop abusing free, unpermitted parking. We would not be here if people did not abuse this.

  2. In general, I find that the more street parking restrictions we have, the harder it is on residents and local businesses. For example, my household is right on the edge of this proposed district, so we will be cut off from half of the spots we regularly park in. Street cleaning days were already tough – this makes it even tougher.

    Rather than putting up restrictions on what people can’t do, can we instead come up with ways to incentivize the building of underground parking lots, better bike paths, etc?

    (Bonus points if we can turn the huge SFMTA lot on Mariposa & Bryant into an underground parking garage with a public park/greenspace on top)

    1. you’re not gonna believe this, but better bike infrastructure almost always means sacrificing some amount of street parking. Underground anything is also very difficult and expensive here due to a large portion of the city being built on literal landfill and much of the rest on bay mud, neither of which are particularly structurally sound and often environmentally unfriendly. The soil is often so hazardous it needs to be hauled at great expense to utah or nevada just to be stored in the middle of nowhere. Combine that with needing significant structural infrastructure to ensure it doesnt all come crumbling down when an earthquake hits, and you find yourself with an ugly, likely neighborhood opposed (“THIS SHOULD BE HOUSING THAT WILL NEVER BE APPROVED”), box in the ground with a $30-50 million dollar price tag that will contain 100 parking spots. But don’t worry, each will cost you $40/hour to park in.
      Car dependency in dense cities with limited remaining space such as ours is killing us, but nobody can see past the hood of their empty bedded F-150 to realize it.

  3. We are fortunate to live by a Zipcar hot spot.
    When you add it all up – it is way cheaper if you need a car for a few hours here and there each week. Parking, blessedly, is of no issue when you return home.
    Used to figured car share would be the next really huge, huge, thing.
    But somehow Uber stole the transit show.

    Don’t see any provision for on-street car share on the map.

    “nixes minimum parking requirements for affordable housing buildings”
    NO PARKING spot for the affordables – you’re poor and not like normal people – you deserve only public transit.

    1. Plenty of cities have dropped parking minimums because they’re inflexible, waste land, and encourage car use. Why are minimums needed? If they’re requested for a development, they will be added by the developer if they pencil. If they don’t, would you rather have someone be housed or have somewhere to park?

  4. Nothing good about this plan for people in the Mission. Good luck moving your car every two hours from block to block. Businesses may have a hard time attracting and keeping workers who have to drive in before Muni starts operating. You’ll be competing with a lot of construction workers when the building starts up again and then there will be more residents competing for parking since they eliminate it from new housing.. Wait till you see the new list of state bills being cooked up by Wiener’s transportation Committee this year to make driving and parking more difficult. It you care your better do something fast.

  5. This proposal makes absolutely zero sense! What is truly needed is to make the area between Mission and Valencia Streets part of Zone S, and the rest of the Mission part of adjacent existing parking permitted areas. Drop the idea of adding extra metered spots, except in highly-trafficked commercial areas. And allow no more than 2 permits per address. Period. Bam! Problem solved, and not at the expense of the poor and working-class folks who live in the Mission and who cannot afford to pay for fancy parking garages! Our household of 2 has only one car between us, and we use bicycles and transit to get around the city on a regular basis. We only use our vehicle to get out of town and go hiking. Why should we be punished for the crimes of those who have 5 or 6 extra cars and those lazy people who drive everywhere and care nothing for the environment? It makes zero sense to have free meters for residential permit holders with 2 hour limits! Who would benefit from such a thing, except perhaps those who are rich and can work from home and move their cars every few hours?

      1. DK, sorry but this article states that most of the spaces will be metered, and – while those with permits will not have to pay the meter, they will still be held to the 2 hour max. So I guess we should all start saving our pennies so we can rent a garage? Or sell our vehicle?

        1. From the letter:
          “GG permit holders may park everywhere from Area GG signage without being subject to time limits”; buffer zones “will allow permit holders in Areas GG and I, or Areas GG and W, to park without restrictions”‘; permit holders are exempt for the respective limits of the 2 and 4 hour zones

          1. Sorry, DK – but this is a true quote from the above article, stating, to the contrary: “Many of the new spaces, however, will have two-hour time limits. Be warned: You are bound by the time-limit regardless of whether you have a residential permit.” If you look at the map in detail, only a very tiny fraction of the parking will not be subject to either a 2 or 4 hour minimum – making it useless to the working class people who live in the neighborhood and who do not use their cars to get around on a regular basis. Sorry, but this proposal needs to be modified ASAP.

  6. So long as residents have the ability to override meters in spaces on residential blocks, this is an improvement from the SFMTA’s last effort at North Mission parking meters that we beat back.

    There needs to be a RPP economic hardship carved out for lower income residents.

  7. @Annika – please can you post the link to the proper plan/map. The image is fuzzy.
    What is the solid (not dashed) green line? It’s not covered in the key.

    1. Hi Anna,
      Thanks for reading and for your questions. The link to the PDF is under “read more about the plan here” link at the bottom of the article, but I’ll happily re-post here. You can click the link to the PDF which hopefully is a larger and clearer image on your device. Unfortunately, that’s the best I can do. Some of these images are also on flyers around the neighborhood, and you can come to the virtual meeting tomorrow.

      Awesome question re the green line, I had the same. Here is the response from SFMTA: “ The solid green line is existing Residential Permit Parking (RPP) which will become part of new Area GG; street signs will be replaced and permit holders will be issued GG permits. Blocks of Area I and Area W that become Area GG will retain their existing days and times of enforcement.”

      Hope that helps.

    1. Donald Shoup is a neoliberal tool who would regulate access to the commons by erecting economic toll booths, and who’s life work has been rendered irrelevant by Uber and Lyft.

  8. This is an absolutely horrible idea and I really hope this community attends the hearing and voices our many frustrations on why this would drastically create even more financial hardships and stress for those who’ve been living here FOR YEARS. Blown away how they think it would be just fine to charge people money to park on this already struggling community. Unbelievable yet not shocking and corrupt as hell!!

  9. I’m for it but wish it were coupled with more transit and bigger changes to increase bike safety and provide secure bike parking. The simple reality is that we can’t all drive in a city, there’s not enough space.

    Now if we can do something about the low 12-Folsom frequency*, the fact that a Muni+BART pass costs 7 times as much as one of those parking permits, the lack of secure bike lockers in the Mission… then we’ll be getting somewhere.

    *seriously, I used to ride the 12-Folsom every day but now with Jeff Tumlin’s Covid service cuts, I’m always missing it and the next one is in like 21 minutes so I give up and switch to my bicycle or hike over to the 14/BART. Now that I think of it: Free suggestion for Mission Local: profile transit riders in the neighborhood and how we’re affected by these ongoing cuts, which are much more severe than any new competition for parking. Just saying.

  10. As someone who works on Harrison near Treat I’m not a fan of this proposal. I only have drive to work 1-2 times a week and usually take public transit, but now I might have to move my car multiple times a day and potentially pay for parking when I do? Parking on Treat/Harrison in particular seems to be used more by people working in the neighborhood (SPCA, MUNI, Dandelion etc) than residents

  11. NEMIZ has been a tough area to park for at least 20 years. I have a 6-vehicle garage and so do not usually have to worry, other than the occasional idiot who blocks my driveway and gets a very expensive towaway ticket for his trouble.

    Part of the problem is the number of schools in the area. SFUSD teachers apparently have de facto immunity from tickets as long as they display their teacher credentials on the windshield.

    1. @Ron, you did a great job signaling that you do not have or like K-12 age kids while bragging about your 6-car garage. SFUSD Teacher permits are official SFMTA (PAID – $128 I believe) parking permits good for school hours so they don’t have to move their vehicles during class. Most can’t afford to live or drive or park in SF, but they do sometimes need to rely on vehicles so they can come to work from the far-flung outskirts to your fiefdom. Sorry to hear people like you are my neighbors. May a paved-over subterranean creek visit your basement regularly.

    2. Ron – you must be a rich men with a 6 car garage & an out-of-touch take o SFSD’s teachers access to street parking. Or, you have a pretty sweet rent-control unit going. Either way, it mist be nice being you.