We might be saying goodbye to the 6 p.m. parking meter fee cutoff and the free Sunday parking, and hello to toll gates charging ‘congestion pricing’ on our busiest streets.
It is a time-honored San Francisco tradition to not park one’s car on the street until 6 p.m., because that’s when the parking meters stop charging. You’ve got free parking for the whole evening, and all you have to worry about is the possibility of street cleaning (or a busted car window). But the free parking may not pass Go for much longer, as the Chronicle reports that Mayor Breed is pushing for extending parking meter charges to 10 p.m. on weeknights, and eliminating the traditional Sunday free parking. On top of that, Curbed SF adds that the mayor also proposes surge pricing on the busiest SF streets, in the form of “a toll system or by raising rates on parking meters during those [peak] times.”
In a letter obtained by the Chronicle, and also partially available on the mayor’s website, Breed argues that “Our population is growing yet our roads cannot get any wider, nor can we add additional curb space for parking. We need to use data and smart policy to better use the infrastructure we have.” She continues in her letter to the SFTMA Board of Directors that “San Francisco has changed considerably over the past decade. We have experienced unprecedented growth in both population and jobs, paired with more options to move around the City like bikeshare and scooters. Just as the needs of our streets have changed, we must be willing to do things differently to achieve our mobility objectives.”
Curbed reminds us that there are already some SF meters that charge on Sundays at Fisherman’s Wharf, the Embarcadero, nine "off-street parking lots," and a "Special Event Area around Oracle Park and Chase Center during special events." And Breed does go to lengths to emphasize that Sunday parking meter charges will not be enforced for areas near churches.
The anti-car crowd is still basking in their car-free Market Street victory, but realize that was more than ten years in the making. This notion of toll booths charging cars 'congestion prices’ is similarly far-off, as it’s not currently legal under state law, though Sen. Scott Wiener has proposed a pilot surge pricing program in years past.
But the city would be well within its rights to apply surge pricing to parking meters on the busiest streets. And considering this is a city where there’s currently a parking spot selling for $100,000, the demand for that kind of thing appears to be pretty elastic.