What it Would Cost to Own Every Parking Spot in SF


Dear Parking Guru,

I arrived home today to find a few “temporary event, no parking, tow away” signs on my street for this weekend.  What exactly does “temporary event” mean. And more importantly, how far does the no parking zone extend.  I have been told that the signs are enforceable for 200 feet, is this true?


Temporarily Cranky

Dear TC,

A temporary event worthy of a no parking permit according to SFMTA is for events such as street fairs, races, parades, demonstrations, film projects, and sporting events. A temporary no parking zone can also be created for more personal events such as moving day in order to create space for a truck so it won’t have to double-park.

To answer your next question as to how far the reach of enforceability for these signs is; a parking enforcement officer stated to me that the rules for these signs are the same as construction tow away signs, which, "Shall be posted every 20 linear feet of occupied space with at least one sign at each end of the occupied space."

In other words, the end of where the signs are posted, constitute the limits of the zone. To simplify it further, if you don’t park any part of your vehicle in between the signs, you are safe.

Up to 4 signs will cost the user $163 dollars, and the no parking zone can be enforced for up to 5 days.  

Now, to satisfy my intellectual parking curiosity, as an economics exercise, and simply for fun (do not try this at home), I wonder what it would cost for me to obtain a year’s worth of permits for a section of street in order to create guaranteed street parking in front of my house. If a permit last for 5 days, I would need to buy 73 permits to cover the year. At $163 per permit, that would cost about $12,000. The zone could be up to 60 feet long, and I could possibly fit 4 vehicles into that space.

So, if I split it with 3 neighbors, we could each have guaranteed on-street parking for $3000 per year. It would be less expensive than renting garage space for $300-400 per month, and more convenient. Or, better yet, I could rent 3 spots out for $4k each, and my spot would be free.

Why stop there? What if I got permits for all 281,700 street parking spots in San Francisco.  281,700 spots divided by 4 cars per permit, is 70,000 5-day permits, x 73 (to make it a year’s worth), would be 5 million permits, at $163 each, would cost…$837 million.

With the soon arriving on-street car sharing pilot program, combined with the possibility of the SFpark project entering a more mature phase, and hopefully rolling out a stellar system across the city, there will be no need for tricks like the ones above to secure a parking spot. Both on-street car sharing and real-time voice-guidance to the closest available spot will combine to truly and permanently eliminate the daily circling and circling and circling of 535,000 vehicles looking for parking. Essentially all parking stress, and the ripple effect of congestion, will be a thing of the past. 

David LaBua is the author of Finding the Sweet Spot, a leader in the sustainable urban mobility movement, and founder of VoicePark, the world’s first voice-guided mobile app guiding drivers to the closest available parking spot in real-time...for free. You can follow him on twitter@ParkingGuru.


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