What Are We Learning from SF Park?

I know its early, but I harken back to my post in December.  From that post – a quote:

SFPark is an innovative, federally-supported performance parking pilot program. But it will adjust meter rates in its seven pilot areas this month—the third adjustment since the program’s launch in 2010.

Each time San Francisco has adjusted the rates, the spread between the least expensive and the most expensive blocks has increased. After this latest adjustment, parking rates will vary from a low of $0.75 up to $4.25/hr. To date, the most crowded blocks have typically continued to be crowded even after adjusting the prices upward, while under-occupied blocks have not filled up even after dropping the price.

Are we asking too much?  I have wondered for some time if ‘the word’ can get out and people will truly understand the difference between parking on one block than on another. Let’s face it, on street parking is not designed for workers who drive into the area and park all day and get to know the pricing of local parking.  They should be parking off street.  The folks we want to reach are those looking for a space near their destination. The ones who cruise around and around and who would be helped by a space made free by market based pricing.  The problem is how does this person know what the price of parking on the street is at a particular point in time.

San Francisco would say that they should check their smart phone and get all that information. Well, yeah, but you are asking them to break the law and fiddle with their phone while they are driving. The solution is of course having signs around telling folks just what it costs to park on a particular street. If I knew that I could walk a couple of blocks and save $8, maybe I would do so.  Or maybe not.  However if I don’t have that information, then I will just park, lock, go to the meter, pay what it says, and be done with it, probably cursing the high price of parking in San Francisco, but then everything is pricy in SF so it is to be expected.

If my reaction is this, then the system has not worked, has only increased revenues, and done nothing for reducing cruising, congestion, or the like.


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2 Responses to What Are We Learning from SF Park?

  1. Let’s say there are only two blocks, each with ten spaces each. Before performance pricing block, A is fully occupied; block B is half full. In order to achieve Shoup’s, “one or two spaces open” on block A only one or two people need to move from the full block to the half-full block. In other words, eight (or nine) out of ten drivers on the full block have no need for any new information, nor do they need to change their parking behavior one bit.

    Let’s use your scenario. “If I knew that I could walk a couple of blocks and save $8, maybe I would do so. Or maybe not. However if I don’t have that information, then I will just park, lock, go to the meter, pay what it says, and be done with it…” Like you, most people won’t even give it a second thought. These are the eight (or nine) out of ten.

    But some people will think, “gosh that is expensive. What is this SFpark sticker on the meter? Maybe I should check it out.” These frugal folks could find out more information either by checking out the website at home or on their smart phone — but I don’t think this will happen even most of the time. I think people will ask other people, friends, co-workers, strangers, or perhaps, the shopkeeper who’s business the driver is patronizing.

    For example, the customer tells his barber, “Hey Bill, a little of the top and sides. Wow. Parking on block A sure has got expensive.” Barber Bill explains to his customer that block B is cheaper. Next time the customer parks on block B.

    I call it the cheapskate principle. Never underestimate what a cheapskate will do to save a few bucks. Of course, this kind of local knowledge takes time to permeate. So, you had it right at the beginning, it is too early to evaluate SFpark.

  2. SF Park Ripoff says:

    Residents across San Francisco are saying that the SFpark experiment is an EPIC FAILURE, primarily because it uses the ENRON Model for Pricing….By the way, How did that work out for you last time?

    The SFpark pilot has managed to infuriate almost everyone without pleasing anyone. Residents have had enough of SFparks price-gouging, and market manipulation.  Much like the ENRON, the SFpark Project was built on imagination, hype, and “gaming the market”. To artificially inflate consumer prices is not innovative, groundbreaking, or revolutionary. Its just plain wrong! Go to sfpark.info to get the real story.

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