I recently invited some friends over for a barbecue and one couple was quite late. As they were usually punctual I was beginning to get worried when they sent me a text saying they were sorry but couldn’t find parking, the kids were starting to melt-down and they decided to head back home. I felt terrible that they went through that hassle and disappointed that they couldn’t make the party.
Anyone in district 3 who owns a car, but doesn’t have a garage, knows this is not unusual. People who live elsewhere think it is ridiculous what we put up with, and it’s about to get much worse. The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency has plans to remove hundreds more parking spaces in the near future.
I recently met with the City’s Chief Engineer for Livable Streets, to try to convince him that the proposed “bulb-outs” were dangerous, and asked him “why there are so many apartment buildings without garages”. He responded that they didn’t have many cars when they were built. Wrong. Even a hundred years ago, they had sense to build garages every block or two, each which would hold 40 or 50 cars. Perhaps cars then were not as safe, and storing lots of gasoline under bedrooms, was not considered ideal.
Over the years, nearly all of these garages were converted or torn down, causing drivers to rely more on street parking. For several years now the SFMTA has been systematically removing parking spaces. They rationalize that fewer spaces equates to fewer cars. Ironically they also say that 30 per cent of the traffic, are drivers looking for parking. One would think that removing parking would therefore add to the increasing traffic, but logic seems to elude the SFMTA. There are more cars and traffic than ever, despite the MTA’s social engineering. Most of our families have been driven away and the lack of parking is the number one complaint I hear. My opponent spearheaded the change in our parking requirements for new developments. Instead of a MINIMUM of 1 space per unit, we now have a MAXIMUM of 3 spaces for every 4 units. This undoubtedly adds pressure on our street parking. We are about to lose hundreds of parking spaces along the Polk St. and Van Ness Ave. corridor, with no mitigation planned. This will hurt residents, businesses and visitors. Even if you don’t drive, the congestion will have a negative effect on your quality of life.
I recommend the construction of more off-street parking, near our business corridors which will help businesses, residents and visitors. They will also generate revenue for the City, as all parking structures do. They will also allow the SFMTA to accommodate handicapped, delivery, pick-up and drop-offs at the curb. They would also allow more bike lanes where appropriate.
Another important piece of the puzzle is for the City to create parking where visitors enter, such as Mission Bay. By allowing visitor to park their cars immediately upon arrival and taking public transportation, walk or bike to their destination will alleviate much of our traffic, and allow visitors an alternative to the challenging city driving and parking.
Forcing trucks to double-park and shoppers and residents to keep circling the block, is not good for anyone and The SFMTA is making matters worse.