Although it may not feel like it to most San Francisco drivers, public parking in many popular areas of the city is now cheaper and easier to find.
SFpark recently released their highly anticipated final report on San Francisco’s demand-management parking pilot project. It shows that in the program’s pilot areas, such as Japantown/Filmore, downtown, and in the Marina, overall hourly parking meter rates decreased and parking availability increased, thanks to dynamic pricing.
In addition, fewer cars were being ticketed and fewer drivers were double parking thanks to increased ease of payment and space availability on program-managed blocks the vast majority of time.
However, the report failed to address one of the biggest consequences of deploying such a program, the effect on parking and congestion in neighborhoods that surround the pilot project areas.
Parking in these adjacent areas allow for extended-length (or all day) stays and, most importantly, is free. On some blocks, dynamically-priced meters coexist with these free spaces, leading to unbalanced parking demand.
Although SFpark is just a pilot program at this point, the City must move quickly to bring each and every one of its on and off-street parking spaces under the control of this demand management program for the program to be successful when fully deployed.
Until it does, the City has unintentionally create a de facto two-tier parking program. One for those who are willing (or able to) pay the increased parking rates in commercial corridors and one for those that cannot or will not pay. The latter requiring drivers to fight with residents for limited parking in their neighborhood under existing parking rules and regulations.
The consequence of such a system leads to increased circling times, increased number of miles driven, increased emissions impact, and decreased parking availability in surrounding neighborhoods. The exact problem that SFpark was originally tasked to reduce.