Enforcement, Paint Solve 19th Avenue Sidewalk Parking Problem

IMG_0766.jpgA new line of paint between the parking lane and traffic lanes on 19th Avenue seems to be a comfort to motorists, who are no longer parking partially on the sidewalk. Photo: Michael Rhodes
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 Streetsblog.

"We are pleased that the sidewalks are now clearer for pedestrians."

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.

The 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.

It's 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.

Truck_hydrant_sidewalk.jpg19th Avenue then: drivers routinely parked with two wheels on the sidewalk. Photo: Matthew Roth

sidewalk_parking_small.jpgMore illegal parking from earlier this year, before the new enforcement. Photo: Matthew Roth
IMG_0764.jpg19th Avenue now: cars parked fully on the street. Photo: Michael Rhodes
IMG_0769.jpgWhile cars are no longer parked with two wheels on the sidewalk, some are still parked with all four wheels in the pedestrian right-of-way. Photo: Michael Rhodes
IMG_0773.jpg19th Avenue is still far from a haven for pedestrians.