SF Park — Brilliant or Boondoggle

We have a two page article in this month’s PT about SF Park — it is an opinion piece and I take the program to task on a number of levels — You can read it on line here. My concerns are far reaching, but primarily I am worried that the program, which is actually an 18 month long test, will come to naught.  That there will be no real results, $20 plus million will have been spent,  and the entire thing will sort of creep away into the night, never to be heard from again.

The latest news from Baghdad by the Bay seems to bear that out. We are four months from the end of the program and rate adjustments are nearing the maximum that they can be set. Read about it here.   The local pols have set $6 a hour as the maximum for on street parking rates.  And it seems that they are at $5.25 now.  The question is that with all the rate changes and variable hour by hour charges, have there been any noticeable changes in the habits of parks in San Francisco.

The goal was to ensure that there is a space or two always available on every block face so that a parker can quickly find a space and not have to cruise around looking for a space and cause congestion. This is a laudable goal.  But do we have any information that tells us if the changes in parking rates have done anything except increase the revenue for the city? Or lowered it?

It may be that the reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle have been remiss in asking that question, or it may be that the SFpark managers simply don’t know.

My concerns voiced in the op ed piece in PT this month are that SFpark isn’t getting the feed back information they need to understand whether this is working or not. Also, be changing rates in various blocks monthly and also by time of day, the parkers don’t get good information about what the rates are. After all, I may be willing to walk a block if I know it will save me ten bucks, but if I don’t know that, I will pay the ten bucks and simply be ticked off about the high parking rates, which I expect in a city like San Francisco anyway.

Note that the article I reference from the Chronicle doesn’t mention any changes in parking behavior, and I would have thought that such information would be at least the second lede.

Time will tell, but SFpark is missing a bet if it is adjusting rates and has no clue whether or not those adjustments are doing any good.




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11 Responses to SF Park — Brilliant or Boondoggle

  1. CJD says:

    Doesn’t their parking app have current up to date prices. You could look and plan( Iknow, I know, plan is another 4 letter word) where you need to go and how the prices fluxuate around your destination? I dont understand why thats so difficult. The problem is that $6 an hour is probably still below market off-street prices. I think we are looking at this “market” pricing the wrong way. The on-street system has to be higher than the market pricess in the lots/garages. If not, the demand is still the same but people are paying more. If demand drops, they have probably not driven into the city..which may not be a good thing.

  2. JVH says:

    Charlie — that’s the entire issue. How do you communicate these complex changes by day, time, and location. Is it reasonable to think that people will check their computers or their smart phones and figure out times, locations, and prices before they park. I don’t think so. That is the challenge for all market based pricing — how do you communicate it. It has to be simple, and if it changes too often during the day people will just ignore it.

    • CJD says:

      Give it some time. My generation and younger(35 and below) use our phones in so many different ways these days. I check twitter/facebook constantly, for good reason..wonder what the soup of the day is at the cafe..wonder what band is playing at the bar tonight. If i am going on a trip I can use the navigation on my phone that will also show me the current traffic in real time, thus possibly changing my route. It is being done all the time.

      Now my father, who is 64, has an iphone. He gets his email. He updates his facebook page for his boat,he is retired and runs a charter boat out of Cape May, Nj if anyone wants to go fishing, but his “level” of use is years behind mind. There is a drastic difference between “checking” fb and twitter and “using” them. It is changing habits.

      For instance, lets look at how the internet has progressed for news. A few years ago you would go to msn or yahoo or a specific news site to check the news. Then google news changed that game. Google made it so you can easily navigate the news by location/topic/search. Now I dont use that anymore. I get my news from twitter., well tweetdeck actually. If you dont know what tweetdeck is, look it up. Its a tool that has multiple twitter feeds on one screen. So I have my normal feed, I have a feed that is just local media, one group of national media, a twitter search of any tweets that contain”State College and parking, and a search of my name. I can go through it in about 15 seconds, and I do it abut 10 times a day.

      All I am trying to say is that it is reasonable to expect people to check the information because people are. Just not all people yet. I have stopped asking “have you seen this news piece about zxy”, because the answer is always no. I am part of a generation that uses this stuff 100 times a day. Yesterdays news, is yesterdays news. I get my news now and I am able to react now and not tomorrow.

      Oh and you know how my father got into facebook and twitter? From me telling him that he needs to get into. My generation educates our parents generation all the time now.

      Give it some time. More and more people will learn to check the rates before they leave. I have no doubt this is the way the future will deal with parking information

      • JVH says:

        God I feel so old — but then my life appears to be much less cluttered than yours. A hundred times a day — holy cow. Do you find time to do anything else?

        • CJD says:

          You think its clutter, I dont. I somehow find time to do my job, and play lots of golf.

          Think about all the times you wait in line or for a meeting to start. I have news articles open on my phone/ipad all the time. It may take me 3 or 4 times to have enough time to read the entire thing, but I use all of my time. I do put the phone and tablet away during dinner or watching tv with Aimee. But there are plenty of opportunities to do a quick twitter or facebook check. I just like to know whats going on now and not find out about it tomorrow in the paper.

          I really learned the benefits about 9 months ago, when my work life in State College was in utter chaos. Being able to make decisions based on real time info is what this world is about now.

          When I am on vacation I can go days without the connection, that’s how I know I am not a addict!

          BTW- I use my phone or tablet on the golf course to give me exact yardages through a gps golf app…..

  3. CJD says:

    One more thing. The rates only change once per month. Yes the may change per hour, but the hour that they change and the rate they change to, are known times and rates. So if you check on your way or before you leave you will not have any surprises. We know exactly what time and the cost of parking will change tomorrow.

  4. JVH says:

    Let’s see — Block “A” is near a theater — from 2AM to noon, the rate is $1.50 per hour, from noon to 6 PM its $3.00 and hour, and from 6 pm to 2 AM its $10 per hour. Except on Saturday when the rate changes at noon to the higher amount (matinee). Block “B” is three blocks from the theater and the rates are half those in block “A.” So I’m supposed to sort all this out on my smart phone and decide to park where I want? Of course I’m late to the show so….

  5. CJD says:

    Yes you will figure it. You probably used your smartphone to look up which theatre,what show, pay for the tickets. Just like I used my phone to respond to this post.

    Its not a parking debate. Its a technology debate. Would you be shocked if I told you I don’t own a computer and I don’t bring hone a laptop? I use my phone and iPad for everything

  6. sebra leaves says:

    Don’t hold your breath. We understand that SFPark is planning to come up with a report some time in 2014 at the earliest. How do you create more parking by removing available parking spots and limiting hours? The premise is flawed.

    The pilot program is developing a high stress level in drivers. I would say, “No” the pilot program does not work as promised. Last weekend there were record numbers of people attempting to park in North Beach during Sunday Streets. Cars were circling.

    The voting taxpayers in San Francisco are not waiting to voice their opinions on this program. Citizen groups such as ENUF and savemui are protesting heavily against the program, complaints have been filed legal actions are underway, and petitions are posted for signatures. See below.
    Stop SFMTA.

  7. Mister Big says:

    This is gentrification through parking planning. Not everyone can afford a smart phone, nor does everyone want one. Those who can afford the technology get the advantage.

    • ENUF says:

      In San Francisco there is a growing plan to fight the SFMTA at the ballot. Some of the issues that have arisen are based on state laws such as the one below. We are looking for other residents and neighborhood groups in California who are ready to fight the restrictive parking policies being passed in Sacramento. SB1492 being introduced by Leno would allow local governments to raise license fees on cars.
      We are encouraging everyone to comment on this bill. We are also requesting people send us your suggestions.
      Sincerely, ENUF

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