Its not the Price, or the program its the Execution…

I have commented on SFPark before so much of this won’t be news. However, I did receive some comments on the blog post (go here) that are less than subtle on their condemnation of the program. Basically they are reacting to the seeming lack of communications between the SFPark bureaucracy and the local residents.  They also scream about raising parking fees and having them to into the SFMTA general fund, which they feel is mismanaged, etc.

All of this is fair enough. However parking is an asset that needs to be protected.  It is also not free. If people can afford to own, insure, operate, and maintain a vehicle, they need to realize that they must also pay to park it. That is simply an undeniable fact. A fact that most drivers do not accept.

So it appears the goal of any new program must be to sell the participants on the need for the program and what ‘they’ are going to receive from it. If they believe that the money is simply going into a huge bureaucracy to support poorly run transportation systems or worse, disappear into the city’s general fund, its a lose from the get go. Sure you can jam a program down their throats, but you are going to end up with a very surly population.

Remember one of Don Shoup’s tenants when dealing with charging for parking. “Return the money to the neighborhoods from wince it came.”  You can involve the local populace in how the money will be spent (Parks, new sidewalks, streetlights, maintenance, more police, business improvement programs, street fairs, etc). Then do it.

Residents have a tendency to accept programs that involve them and that have a direct effect on them and their surroundings. They may even support them and sing their praises.

SFPark seems to have forgotten this part of the Shoupista mantra. They are raising prices in many places, starting paid parking anew in a number of locations, and using a giant PR machine to promote the program. They are telling the citizenry that the new prices and fees will make parking better and easier, reduce congestion, and in the end, enable them to do away with cars altogether.  (Well the last item isn’t in the headlines, but make no mistake, the citizens of SF understand absolutely that the goal is there.)

The citizens need to see what’s in it for them.  Right now, they see a glitzy technologically based program that takes more of their money and gives them….what?  More space available (they haven’t seen that yet).  More parking information (unless they are geeknocrats they don’t see the benefit in that.) Less congestion and cruising (can’t see that.)

So what do they see? It costs more to park. That’s it. It is no wonder that they are reaching for the pitchforks and torches.

Take a minute and read some of the comments in the articles written in the local neighborhood press. It ain’t pretty.

And it was so unnecessary. This was a new program. It could have been sold easily and without rancor. The local groups could have been involved and brought on board.

I have heard the local administrators comment on this and simply say that the grumbling will go away. Probably so. But is this any way to run a public agency?

Its the execution, not the program.


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