Supervisor Carmen Chu Wary of Parking Meter Extension Proposal

It shouldn’t be too surprising to those who have followed the debate on extending parking meter hours that Supervisor Carmen Chu is not a big fan. A tipster forwarded us an email from Chu’s office sent out last night to constituents encouraging them to show up at today’s MTA Board meeting and give their opinion about the MTA extended meter hours study.

Chu’s opinion, as stated in the email: "I believe that the MTA must be more surgical in their approach. Not only should the MTA take a look at circulation/congestion on a neighborhood by neighborhood level, but they must also take a look and assess how the economy has impacted different areas before implementing any changes."

I don’t know if the MTA’s proposal could have been more surgical in Chu’s district, where the agency proposed extending meter hours on limited commercial streets such as Taraval, Noriega, and Irving (click here for the map). On Noriega, for instance, extended metering would only occur on three blocks near 19th Avenue and a few more near Sunset. This is a far cry from the blanket 8 pm extension that had been proposed originally in the MTA budget compromise in May and is certainly better than the Oakland situation.

We’ve also heard that Chinatown merchants will be out in force at the meeting to oppose any changes and will request an explanation of the methodology behind the MTA’s study in their area.

Though Livable City tells us they are trying to organize merchants from a couple of the commercial districts in the study area, it’s possible the meeting is going to be swamped with angry business owners who fear the effects of increased meter hours, even if it would make it easier for their customers to park nearby.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors meeting is today at 2 p.m. San Francisco City Hall, room 400. The parking study presentation is item 14 on the agenda. The meeting will be broadcast online on SFGTV2.  Here’s more info on who to contact to voice your support for the parking study. You can also send feedback to extendedhours@sfmta.com.

Read the complete Chu email after the jump.

From: Katy Tang [mailto:Katy (dot) Tang (at) sfgov (dot) org] On Behalf Of Carmen Chu
Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 6:09 PM
To: Chustaff
Subject: Parking meter hours expansion proposal — your input needed

Good Evening,

Many
residents in the District have called or have written to our office
recently about proposals to expand parking meter hours in various
neighborhoods throughout San Francisco.  Most of the comments we have
received have shown a lack of support for proposals to extend meter
hours into the evenings or on Sundays.  Whether you agree or disagree
with the proposal, I wanted to make sure you aware of an opportunity to
weigh in on the issue.

The MTA Board of Directors will be hearing staff report on proposals for expanding meter hours this Tuesday (tomorrow), October 20th at 2pm in City Hall.
Please know that implementation of any parking meter policies is under
the jurisdiction of the MTA Board of Directors and would not come
before the Board of Supervisors.  If you would like to voice your
concerns, you can come testify on this issue in person or you can also write the MTA Board of Directors by email at MTABoard@SFMTA.com.
The MTA Board can also be reached by phone at 415-701-4505.  Board
members include: Tom Nolan, James McCray, Cameron Beach, Shirley Breyer
Black, Malcolm Heinicke, Jerry Lee, and Bruce Oka.

I
highly encourage you to voice your thoughts on this issue, particularly
at this juncture before any decisions are made. While changes in meter
policy may be desirable in some areas, I believe that the MTA must be
more surgical in their approach.  Not only should the MTA take a look
at circulation/congestion on a neighborhood by neighborhood level, but
they must also take a look and assess how the economy has impacted
different areas before implementing any changes.  In the neighborhood
commercial areas that I represent, I hear from many merchants how
increased meter hours could hurt their businesses.  It would be
important to let the MTA Board of Directors know how a meter expansion
will personally impact you or your business.

Thank you for your time,

Carmen Chu
SF Board of Supervisors
District 4
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl.
SF, CA 94102
(415) 554-7460
www.sfgov.org/chu

  • I’ll comment before I even read this – she is a puppet of Newsom, of course she is “wary.” Now I’ll read.

  • Carmen is very disappointing when it comes to transit issues. She doesn’t seem to understand that knee jerk reactions to the parking meter proposal don’t help, and were part of a deal her ally Newsom crafted (which of course he’s now going back on, as he always does).

  • SFResident

    And in other news: rain is wet

  • zsolt

    “Not only should the MTA take a look at circulation/congestion on a neighborhood by neighborhood level, but they must also take a look and assess how the economy has impacted different areas before implementing any changes.”

    Agreed. Of course if we REALLY take a look at the economics of personal motorized transport, Chu might be surprised.

    I wonder where all this leaves my supe, Avalos. While theoretically I guess he would be for this, his district has some of the most ass-backwards conservative car collectors in the city.

  • If I hear one more of these turkeys bitch about how the working class are getting screwed, ignoring the 700,000 “elitists” who take MUNI every day, I may go insane. Irwin Lum steps up to say “Cars are a luxury”

  • “While changes in meter policy may be desirable in some areas…”

    She clearly pulled this directly from the 2009 edition of West Side Mad Libs:

    ‘While cost of living in a city may be desirable in neighborhood East of Twin Peaks …’

  • I like how the Chamber of Commerce guy says that residents are parking in front of businesses at night. And he is fighting for them! The ignorance is just amazing. Those people are parking at 6pm and taking that spot until 7am the next morning so that means NO CUSTOMER parking. I just do not understand.

    Also, where the hell are these FiDi guys coming from? I understand the parking in that neighborhood isn’t represented well in the report, but they should realize that they live in the MOST rational place for an argument against owning a car.

  • One last thing before I turn this crap off, these people don’t understand that the limit will be raised to 4 hrs. That means you won’t have to run back outside a bunch of times to feed the meter.

    But I can’t listen to this anymore. Hopefully I’ll catch the end on TV another night.

  • The big guns from the good guy side came out much later in the program. Maybe I’m biased but it seems to be there is a huge difference in mental capacity. Reasoned arguments could be made for any side, but the no extension people mostly seem to be yelling and appealing to emotion. Did they practice by watching Fox News for 3 days straight?

  • EL

    “where the agency proposed extending meter hours on limited commercial streets such as Taraval, Noriega, and Irving. On Noriega, for instance, extended metering would only occur on three blocks near 19th Avenue and a few more near Sunset. This is a far cry from the blanket 8 pm extension that had been proposed originally in the MTA budget compromise in May and is certainly better than the Oakland situation.”

    A little bit of research from Matthew Roth would have revealed that the above paragraph represents all of the meters in Chu’s District. And in that sense, it is a blanket extension similar to Oakland.

    I do think that Chu has a point in that the study recommends changes on Noriega even though Noriega wasn’t studied at all. Likewise, the study reveals that even on a busy retail day like Sunday, 25% of the businesses in her District aren’t even open until 10 am which makes you question (following Shoup’s theories) why meters that are out there today start at 9 am and why they cost $2 an hour.

  • EL

    I forgot to add that page 28 of the MTA’s study shows the areas where the intercept studies were taken.

    41% @ West Portal (done 3 years ago) – 5 intersecting transit lines (K, L, M, 17, 48)
    25% @ Mission – 8 intersecting transit lines (12, 14, 14L, 27, 48, 49, 67, BART)
    15% @ Marina (don’t know why they did this one since there weren’t any occupancy studies done in Marina) – 7 intersecting transit lines (22, 28, 30, 30x, 43, 76, GGT)
    30% @ Castro – 8 intersecting transit lines (24, 33, 35, 37, F, K/T, L, M)
    31% @ Inner Sunset – 5 intersecting transit lines (N, 6, 43, 44, 66)
    14% @ North Beach (don’t know why they did this one since there weren’t any occupancy studies done in North Beach) – 7 intersecting lines (9X, 9BX, 20, 30, 39, 41, 45)

    NONE of the surveys were done in Chu’s district.

    Furthermore, given the above data, is it any surprise that only 25% of the intercept respondents actually drove? There is TONS of survey bias right there, because 75% of the respondents were asked of their opinion on nighttime/Sunday metering even though THEY DIDN’T DRIVE.

    Now let’s take a look at Chu’s district.

    Irving – No transit lines on it. 3 intersecting lines, 4 that are a block away.
    Noriega – 3 transit lines on it, none between 19th and 22nd Avenues (where it’s metered).
    Taraval – 1 transit line (L).

  • Thanks, EL, I’m aware that those represent the entirety of Chu’s meters. If she expects it to be even more surgical, as in one block here, one block there, some businesses are going to realize the benefit of turnover while their neighbors one block down will not. The distortion would likely have unintended consequences.

  • John Murphy, good to hear some logic was present. I’ll keep me my eye out for replays of the meeting. But I can’t get over how these people want their cake and to eat it too. I guess it is just the big bad gov’t out to get them and their RIGHT to own, drive and park (free I might add) their car.

    EL, this is also just going to be for a trial period; if you are correct, then it’ll all come out in the wash.

  • Diane

    It was about 40 against and 10 for extended meter hours. The MTA is targeting “blue areas” (the color on their map of places that have more than 85% occupancy at any given time). In many of the blue areas, it was residents parking at meters for extended periods of time during the times when meters are free. A stat flashed by that in one major commercial area, the study showed that only 15% of shoppers arrived by car. Yet the merchants associations are vehemently opposed to the proposal!

    The MTA is trying to follow the City’s “Transit First” guideline. Oh, and they need to find another income source. Someone did make the point that current enforcement could be a LOT better. The MTA also says that extending meter hours will free up spaces so that there’s more turnover and so more ease of parking. I don’t know how they figure that, but everyone I know just goes out to feed the meter again. Their goal is to reduce auto trips in the city by 50% in 20 years. I think that if it costs more to park, then more people will take public transportation! That’s a win-win, as I see it…

  • Perhaps the most bizarre juxtaposition – a series of commenters discussing how the meter enforcement was going to be a hardship because they live in one of the “Blue Zones” and now they would have to pay to park, followed by a series of business interests complaining that the pay meters would chase away customers. The residents confirming that they take up all the metered spots at night, and the businesses fighting to keep the residents free ability to eliminate all available parking for customers.

    Marc from SFBC didn’t exactly connect this series of dots but he made this point very clearly.

    The most amusing commenter was from Polk Street, who threw the pro-side a bone in saying he supported Sunday parking enforcement, but was dead set against extending the meters in his district until Midnight. This was because all the businesses in his district are bars, and people drive from out of town to go to those bars and want to stay longer without having to go feed the meters. Is he promoting drunk driving???

  • @Diane
    The MTA also says that extending meter hours will free up spaces so that there’s more turnover and so more ease of parking. I don’t know how they figure that, but everyone I know just goes out to feed the meter again.

    I think that if it costs more to park, then more people will take public transportation!

    You just answered your own question. “Something” is more than “free”

  • Alex

    @EL Don’t forget that the 18, 28/28L, 29, and 66 all cross Taraval in Chu’s district. The 28 falls within the range of the proposed changes, and the 66 comes damn close. 19th & Taraval is a pretty busy stop along the 28 and 28L’s route.

    As for the survey bias, I’ll go with not. That’s the idea of a random sample (assuming that the MTA tried for a random sample). If more people are not driving to an area, it’s only natural that you should end up surveying a small(er) amount of drivers. To include a disproportionate number of drivers would indeed be bias. To dismiss non-drivers simply as bias is a bit narrow in scope. Non-drivers have a lot at stake too (congestion, revenue for MUNI).

  • EL

    @ Alex – interesting counterpoints. My response as follows:

    The 18 is at least 14 blocks from the nearest meter (on Noriega), 16 blocks from the meters on Taraval, and 19 blockks from the meters on Irving.

    The 29 is closer, but still a minimum 4 blocks from any meter.

    The 66 is about to be axed.

    I agree with the 28/28L, even though it only hugs the easternmost egdge of Chu’s district.

    Regarding survey bias, did you read the survey form? The survey automatically threw out any responses from people who didn’t live in San Francisco. Why would you do that when you need to gauge how out-of-towners would feel about paying more for parking? Secondly, question 5 is designed to ask if you would support increases hours/Sunday metering if the money went to sidewalks/MUNI. Isn’t there survey bias when you setup the survey areas where most of the people use sidewalks/MUNI?

  • Alex

    @EL I barely glanced at the survey, but that awkward… but not terrible. Excluding out of towners makes some sense if only because MUNI is mostly used and funded by city residents. Likewise, how many people (drivers or otherwise) do you know who don’t use the sidewalks to get to a business? I have the one friend that simply jumps from the middle of the street, but I imagine that’s not common 😉

    For all intents and purposes the survey is a good start. It would be wise to keep in mind that the MTA has no qualms about tailoring a survey (or any other data) to make themselves look better… Considering that the MTA likely doesn’t have any statisticians I don’t think that this survey is that bad.

    One of the biggest mistakes I keep making is to consider all of the Inner Sunset as part of D4. While I would welcome extended meter hours (especially if it could increase turnover around 9th/Judah/Irving), I agree that these spaces should be monitored. If that means throwing out D4 because it’s not going to be properly studied, so be it (but that’s quite a cop out really).

    One of the suggestions I agree with (and this is a pretty Shoupian thing to do) is that perhaps transit improvements should be linked to participation in this experiment. Extend metered hours, and make sure (a la the experiment on the 1) that service gets increased (if only a little bit) in the areas that are being studied. Or provide free advertisements on MUNI to businesses in areas that are being studied. Or even just more outreach. Even without changing the area of study, there are plenty of ways to turn this into a positive for businesses. The kind of vague hand waving that Ms. Chu is doing is only going to do a disservice to D4 *and* this city as a whole.

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