Some San Francisco drivers have turned over a new leaf on 19th Avenue in the Sunset, where they have adopted the habit of parking on the street, in stark contrast to the previous widespread practice of parking partially or entirely on the sidewalk.
As Streetsblog reported in January, drivers nervous about the heavy volume of traffic passing by their parked cars had taken to widespread illegal parking, reducing 19th Avenue’s already skinny sidewalks to mere ribbons of cement and adding pedestrian hazards to one of the most dangerous streets in the city.
What’s more, as SFPD sergeant Steve Quon told Streetsblog in January, his station was not
inclined to enforce sidewalk parking unless there were significant
complaints or his station received some of the parking fine revenue.
"There are so many cars on the sidewalk on 19th Avenue, if
we cited one, we’d have to cite all of them. That’s a lot of citations," said Quon at the time. "There’s not a lot of pedestrian traffic on 19th. As you can see,
there’s nobody on it right now," he said at the time.
Starting in May, however, the MTA’s Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) began flyering illegally parked vehicles with a warning that they were to park in the street between the new white line painted by Caltrans and the curb, or risk being ticketed and towed.
"Supervisor Chu worked with the MTA to do the striping to show people where it was safe to park on the street," said Cammy Blackstone, an aide to Carmen Chu, supervisor for most of the Sunset district. "Obviously, it’s just paint, but it gives people a comfort level that it’s a reasonable place to be and I can not get wiped out by a car."
"That and the fact the they’re probably being ticketed," added Blackstone, who said she’s received a lot more calls this year from residents who’ve gotten parking citations.
MTA spokesperson Judson True confirmed that the DPT had stepped up enforcement in the area. "We did
increase our citation issuance earlier this year after
the edge line was painted, and after putting warning flyers on vehicles
that were partially parked on the sidewalk," True wrote in an email to
"We are pleased that the sidewalks are now clearer for
The MTA also worked with Caltrans to paint the new line along
the parking lane, said True. Caltrans spokesperson Steve Williams said the line was painted as part of a broader effort to improve pedestrian safety on 19th Avenue, which includes a double-fine zone, pedestrian countdown signals, and new ADA-compliant curb ramps.
Taraval police station didn’t rush to take credit for the improved
conditions: an officer who answered the phone at the station said DPT
enforces parking, and police wouldn’t have had anything to do with it.
still easy to spot cars parked in driveways on side streets and parts
of 19th Avenue, blocking the way for pedestrians, but with the prodding
of pedestrian advocates and the support of Supervisor Chu, DPT, and
Caltrans, getting cars to park fully in the parking lane has proven refreshingly effective.