Publicly debated now for several years and privately griped about for decades, the practice of weekend double-parking along the median on Dolores Street will now, for the first time ever, be officially sanctioned under a 16-month pilot program starting in February (or March), as Bay City News reports via last night's SFMTA board meeting.
Though it's been commonly accepted since who knows when that one can park along the median on Dolores Street on Saturdays and Sundays, referred to by some as "parking for God" and intended to make life easier for congregants at several churches along the street between 14th and 18th Streets, the practice has caused a fair amount of uproar in this ever gentrifying, parking-challenged part of the Mission where property values and rents have skyrocketed in the last twenty years with 75 percent of nearby residents responding to a November 2015 survey saying they wanted it banned altogether. This uproar is in part because this median-parking free-for-all was ostensibly illegal and newcomers to the neighborhood didn't like it, and in part because it's been widely abused on sunny days by Dolores Park-goers, leaving little room for church-goers though the latter do tend to wake up earlier, and are perhaps claiming spots earlier too.
95 percent of those church-goers who were also asked to respond to the same survey said they wanted the practice made legal, and thus a compromise has been reached: Signs will be installed as part of this pilot program setting limits to where people can park, and spelling out that it is only allowed on Friday evenings, Saturday mornings, and all day Sunday.
One main concern being addressed is keeping intersections clear for emergency vehicles turning on to the street.
Though the issue has been a contentious one, only one neighborhood resident made an appearance at the meeting to speak against the double-parking practice, though he told reporters he saw the pilot program as a fair compromise. And it should be noted that while this program only pertains to Dolores Street, the practice of accepted double parking for church-goers goes on elsewhere around the city on Sundays, like in the Fillmore, Lower Haight, and on Bush Street in Pacific Heights.
With these new rules, there will be a period of "intense enforcement and ongoing monitoring" after a certain grace period ends, according to the SFMTA, meaning that those who think this is still a Wild-West situation may end up with a surprise ticket which has always been a risk, and would occasionally happen over the years.
Also, this means no more parking along the median past 18th Street, i.e. the blocks along Dolores Park are a no-no, as is median parking on Guerrero Street, where the practice has also commonly occurred in the same vicinity.
Mission Local spoke to several people in the neighborhood like Wendy Cai, owner of Maxwell’s House of Caffeine, who sees the parking as being good for business because it brings in people from outside the area. And most everyone seems resigned to the practice as a fact of life on Dolores Street.
Look for the new signs, as part of the pilot program, to appear along the median in the next couple of months and don't park too close to intersections or you might get towed.