While you were sleeping, parking meter rates crept up by 25 cents per hour in many San Francisco neighborhoods, including the Marina, Pacific Heights, Civic Center, Duboce Triangle, SOMA, and the Mission. On the bright side, at the same time, meter rates have stayed the same or decreased right next to the blocks where they have increased. Parking guru David LaBua answers questions below about the parking meter changes:
How does it make sense that two blocks right next to each other have radically different prices?
It is all part of the SFMTA's $20 million SFpark master plan pricing model which adjust pricing at meters based on demand in order to control congestion and to prevent people from endlessly circling looking for parking. As I wrote in a previous post, I think that it would have behooved SFMTA to gather data for a while longer before adjusting the prices to see if the $20 million high tech project and app could reduce traffic on its own without raising rates. It would have been good science. And, the way that the pricing model seems to be being used, the data may wind up being fairly useless.
Can you give us an example of that?
Here's a great example of how it was perhaps not well thought through and how implementing the pricing changes was somewhat hasty. The four blocks surrounding City Hall (Polk, Van Ness, McAllister, and Grove) appropriately and poetically exemplify a bureaucracy moving things around, but not changing anything. One block's meters were raised by 25 cents, another block's meters were lowered by 25 cents, and the other 2 have stayed the same. Each block's meters were all $3.00 per hour. Now Polk is $3.25, Van Ness is now $2.75, and the Grove and McAllister are still $3.00. I imagine that every parking spot on all four blocks around City Hall are mostly occupied for most of the day. So, after these price changes, if all of the spots are still occupied all day, absolutely nothing will change.
And next month, savvy parkers will avoid the $3.25/hour meters on one side of City Hall, and will try to park in the $2.75/hour spots just on the other side of City Hall, so The $3.25/hour meters will go down to $3.00, and the $2.75/hour meters will go up to $3.00, and we will be right back where we started from. The City will not make any more money, and the spots will all still be occupied.
So when you're driving, how do you know which block has the $3.25 per hour meters, and how do you know which block has the $2.75 per hour meters?
You won't. The meters will all look the same as you are driving. It's like Russian roulette parking. You will have to research before you park and know which blocks are which. Unless you use the SFpark parking app while you are driving.
I thought that the parking app won't work unless you are going less than 10 miles per hour?
Correct. So, this will either/and/or:
-Cause many people to drive at a snail's pace, which will slow down and increase traffic.
-Cause many people to double park while they use the app to compare prices on each block (which will slow down and snarl traffic)
-Do the research before they leave and look at their notes when they near their destination.
So, if I don't know which meter is the more expensive one and which is the less expensive one until I park and deposit my money, and I'm not parking based on price, doesn't that make the SFpark price-based parking master plan model irrelevant, and the data fairly useless?
I think so. Yes.
To see which streets' meters will increase and/or decrease by the end of the month, click here.
To see more parking tips or learn how to get a copy of Finding the Sweet Spot - The Insider's Guide to Parking in SF click here.