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

A majority of the residents calling in to a Tuesday virtual hearing on a new parking plan for the northeast Mission were unhappy, and argued it would worsen a situation where it can already take a half an hour or more to park. 

 “I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here,” said Darrell Williams, the owner of a commercial photo studio and event space since 1994. “I think this plan is going to destroy my business.”

The plan’s main strategy relies on new paid parking meters and a residential permit system that will be enforced between 13th/Division Street to Valencia Street, and 21st Street to Potrero Avenue. 

The proposed regulations would exacerbate customer parking difficulties, Williams and others said. Those regulations are part of a plan by the San Francisco Transportation Municipal Agency to free up parking space and discourage drivers from hogging a spot for days on end. 

Top of mind Tuesday was insufficient parking spaces for large households and nearby businesses, since there are limits on parking permits. The current iteration of the plan allows only one residential parking permit per business, and up to three extra for commercial vehicles. Certain jobs also qualify for a permit. 

An employee who works at the Dandelion Chocolate factory on 16th Street said four permits is insufficient for his team. Having employees park at 4-hour-time-limit spots “wouldn’t work,” either, he said, because staff work between six- and 10-hour shifts, and it would break their productivity. 

Another caller said his household has six roommates and three cars. He asked about a rule on the agency’s FAQ, which states each residential household gets two permits maximum. 

Transportation planner Mari Hunter, who is helming the plan and presented at Tuesday’s hearing, clarified that there are some exceptions that allow some people to apply for a third or fourth permit, if necessary. 

The introduction of paid parking meters also drew criticism, as meters are virtually non-existent in northeast Mission. 

Kevin Ortiz, a representative from a coalition of Latinx and indigenous organizations called Mission Destino, said the coalition launched a petition in opposition. The petition said meters and time limits would “only make it harder for the residents who live in the area, as well as negatively impact businesses.” It garnered more than 100 signatures in the past 24 hours. 

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.

Ortiz added that the agency did not properly reach out to community groups. Hunter said the agency worked with other Mission nonprofits, like Calle 24 Latino Cultural District and Mission Economic Development Agency, for the plan. 

Some residents on Tuesday embraced the plan, noting it could solve the daily hassle of finding a parking space near home. 

One caller named Maureen, who lives near 15th and Folsom streets, said out-of-towners who work in the neighborhood often plug up the parking spaces nearby as they head to BART. “I think this would really help alleviate us from being a BART parking lot,” Maureen said. 

Another resident, who identified himself as Robbie, agreed. “A lot of non-Mission residents dump their cars here,” he said. “I think this plan is great, if not perfect.” 

Other questions were clarified. Those with residential permits in a specific zone area, titled “GG,” would be exempt from time-limit regulations, Hunter said. Present street cleaning schedules remain, but Hunter may reach out to Public Works if needed. 

Residents also questioned how hundreds of affordable units might affect the limited parking space. State laws no longer require certain developments to have parking minimums, meaning the proposed 500-unit Potrero Yard affordable housing and the 130 homes at 681 Florida St. will not have spaces for residents. 

“There is zero parking planned,” one caller said. “How does [this plan] contemplate dealing with that huge influx of new residents, as well as employees? Are those employees going to be eligible for some kind of exception?”

“When those residents come in,” Hunter said, she may discuss new parking regulations. 

The agency conceived the plan in 2019, after a failed attempt to control the area’s parking situation nearly a decade ago. After residents asked whether the agency ignored prior criticisms and simply revived the rejected plan, Hunter emphasized that this plan is new, and started from “a blank slate” and multiple outreach sessions with residents. The 2013 plan called for hundreds of new parking meters between South Van Ness Avenue to Potrero and Division to 19th streets. 

The agency will continue to take feedback and input, and potentially tweak the plan. Next steps would be to submit the plan to the transportation agency’s Board of Directors, and implement it. The earliest that could happen is 2024, Hunter said.

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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. This Free Parking was NEVER FOR YOU – In The Chronicle the GGRA states it unabashedly “many restaurant workers arrive at their jobs just a few hours before the meter shutdown, “pay the meter, then stay parked there all night.” Thanks to this narrow, well-heeled subset of neighborhood businesses: WE ARE FIGHTING OVER SCRAPS. Want to park and patronize the commercial corridor? Go after THEM. Extend those meter hours!! and have a fair shot at parking in a commercial corridor

  2. I meant to attend the hearing but forgot- I am 1000% on board with this plan and hope it moves forward. The loudest voices are not representative of the majority

  3. In all seriousness will someone please explain this statement?

    One caller named Maureen, who lives near 15th and Folsom streets, said out-of-towners who work in the neighborhood often plug up the parking spaces nearby as they head to BART. “I think this would really help alleviate us from being a BART parking lot,” Maureen said.

    If they live out of town, yet work in the neighborhood, where does BART come into play?

  4. Yeesh, drivers killed 37 people last year in SF, and we’re still trying to believe the myth that cars are necessary for LIFE in the city???

  5. We all need to drive less and it this encourages this action all the better. Viva Public transportation! Viva Muni!

  6. Hey Annika,
    Long time reader first time commenter. I think one thing to note about the state being the entity that doesn’t require parking is it’s missing that the city also removed parking minimum requirements from new developments. Big fan of your work and I’m excited to read more of it.

  7. So Muni is $2.50 but dumping your POS car on the public roadway is free? I think it’s time motorists pay their fair share. They need to stop complaining, we’ve moved heaven and earth for them and it will never be enough.

  8. SFMTA could alleviate the parking problem in SF by not having 20ft red zones on every street corner for no reason. The red and yellow painted parking meters are way excessive. While I’m at it, the “Slow Streets” program is ridiculous. Oh, I know, maybe we need more speed bumps everywhere. 🤣

    1. The 20′ red ones are for an important safety visibility reason. Corners are common places for car vs. pedestrian collisions when visibility is low. Look up “daylighting” for more facts.

    2. 20ft red sections and the corners are so cara who are rolling through the stops can see pedestrian entering the crosswalk before the feel them.

      And if you are proposing people driving should stop at cross walks, well those red sections wouldn’t be there is that had worked.

  9. How is it that campers with no plates can park for months on end without moving? If I bang up my vehicle and take the plates off, do I get unlimited free parking?

  10. How is having MORE available parking spaces going to ruin someone’s business? I don’t know what Darrell Williams, in this article, is talking about.
    To the contrary, it’s more likely that a customer will visit your business if they can find a parking spot!
    Countless times I’ve not gone into a store I would’ve otherwise visited, just because there simply wasn’t any parking nearby.

    1. It’s not about customers (I don’t think it ever has been) it about shop owners and employees having parking (the owner of dandelion even said as much when mentioning his staff looking for parking)

  11. “Hunter said the agency worked with other Mission nonprofits like Calle 24 Latino Cultural District and Mission Economic Development Agency for the plan. ”

    Why is SF government still allowed to operate on this crude, clientelist model of only consulting entities dependent upon the city for funding and thus compromised as representatives for residents for input on such projects?

    1. Good point.
      The City gives these entities money/credibility.
      In return The City gets “community approval”.

  12. People complain that they have a large household and own several cars. Maybe it is time to rethink owning that many cars then. With free parking, people store their cars on the street with zero consequences. It is time something is done about this. Permits are used all over the city — this has not spelled doom for the residents in SoMa, Castro, Hayes, etc.

  13. Car dependency is unsustainable. We need to start weening off it and we need to start by taxing drivers to compensate for the impact they have on our city. Free public parking has been bad policy for too long.

    1. Bernal (of course) Bird – Never had to take kids to daycare or school across town and get yourself to work and then pick them up, have you? Keep thinking about yourself and your private transit utopia. Soon this issue will be moot, as people will continue to leave SF, transit funding (based on use) will dry up, and there will be no businesses left to transit to. Hope you’re happier then. BTW, I’m a bike-commuter.

      1. You are not the only person in the city who needs to use a car. People have permit parking in Castro, SoMa, Hayes, etc. They still manage to do all the things that you talk about.

      2. Gerry, you’re not following ML’s rules of civility! You’re making smug assumptions and they’re not adding much to the discourse.

        Yes, the kids and I take the bus to school, otherwise I pay the meter when I need to commute by car. I don’t see the complexity here.

    2. Tell the people being stabbed and shot at on the street and on the bus and BART about how they don’t need a car. Seriously, there is nothing safe about the streets or public transit right now so keep your thoughts about how people should live to yourself for awhile.

  14. i agree with it. Too many cars here already and i tow at least once a month from my driveway. Time frames work because they force people to think about their surroundings and their neighbors.
    Too many people in the mission with garages who do not use them to store their vehicles. Also, why do you need 5 cars for 5 people, everything is here in the mission and quite walkable. If you need more room to live then move!