Today’s Headlines

  • MTC: Caltrain Funding Solution in the Works; Deep Cuts Not Likely (SF Gate, SF Examiner)
  • Ken Garcia: “Muni Union is Misguided with Its Lawsuit Against Voter-Approved Measure”
  • Republican Effort to Divert HSR Funds to Hwy 99 “a Publicity Stunt” (Sac Bee Op-Ed)
  • Solano Transportation Plan Includes Highway, Overcrossing Widenings (The Reporter)
  • Disabled Train at Powell Station Causes Major BART Delays (KTVU)
  • SF Gate: “Russian Hill Neighbors Fight Plan to Raze Garage”
  • Mayoral Candidate David Chiu Backs Crosstown Bikeways, Masonic Redesign (BIKE NOPA)
  • Redwood City Considers Raising Parking Meter Rates (SF Examiner piece favors opposition)
  • Sonoma City Council Declines to Reconsider Vote on Bike Lanes (Press Democrat)
  • Santa Rosa Lawsuit Over Signs Banning Bicyclists in Gated Community Moves Forward (Press Democrat)
  • At Bike Summit, Janette Sadik-Kahn is the Big Draw (NYT, Transpo Nation via Streetsblog NY)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • The posted Caltrain articles quoting Hemenger discuss fare hikes, but doesn’t really indicate anything about cuts.

    This article – http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2011/03/10/proposed-sales-tax-could-mitigate-caltrain-cuts/ – says “The proposal to be unveiled in April would preserve as much of that service as possible, Rentschler said, but riders will notice a difference”.

    The riders were fairly cooperative up to now, arguing against any service cuts. With the compass now pointed at “some service cuts”, we will revisit the world we lived in for the last service cuts, with various factions lobbying for their own part of the service.

  • Now it’s just divide and conquer. They’ll give just enough so that people start fighting amongst themselves.

  • Was there no major media coverage of the 3rd straight day of Muni Metro meltdowns?

    http://sfist.com/2011/03/09/another_muni_meltdown_day_3.php

  • EL

    If Redwood City’s parking meter prices are supposed to be demand responsive, why are the rates going up if the demand isn’t there (according to merchants)? Of course, Redwood City can easily gauge how much demand there is or isn’t by looking at sales tax revenues and checking the streets. Obviously the demand isn’t there, because if it were, the rates would have already been hiked over the last 4 years. Instead, the rates actually DROPPED.

    According to the article, the parking meters never paid for the parking program itself, and had to sap general fund dollars to make up the difference. Redwood City and Old Pasadena are often quoted by Donald Shoup as THE model to follow. It seems that Redwood City conveniently used Shoup’s theory to justify raising rates as needed, but when the theory doesn’t work in your favor, just abandon it altogether.

    Makes you wonder how realistic Shoup’s theory actually is, as well as SFpark’s motives.

  • Redwood City has a TON of free parking. Hell, even the 5 story county parking garage is free on nights and weekends and is only 3 blocks from main strip.

  • EL

    Maybe free is the correct price if there’s no demand and excess supply. But that also suggests that the rates shouldn’t be increased. Meter operating hours were already scaled back.

  • Downtown RWC was packed last evening. Nearly every spot was taken.

    I walk around every day here. There isn’t a ton a open spaces. I think the merchants are worried (unjustly I might add) because of the thinking that free parking is the only way to attract customers. I do think RWC’s metering system was an unjustifiably large capital expense though so I’m not surprised that revenue hasn’t covered that yet.

  • EL

    Since you walk around there everyday, you’re very qualified to answer this question:

    In your opinion, when the meters are operating during the day, are the spaces routinely more than 85% occupied? If yes, then the rates should go up. If not, then the rates should remain or drop.

    My understanding is that the meters don’t even operate in the evening, so if they (truly) followed the Shoup model, and the spaces are “packed” as you say, then the meter hours should be extended into the evening hours, and an appropriate rate should be set. If they don’t, then it’s fair to say that they’ve abandoned Shoup’s model.

    I also find your last comment (unjustifiably large expense) being spot on. Shoup, being an economics professor no less, should have qualified his theory with a simple statement: No matter why parking management strategy you implement, it has to be able to, at a minimum, pay for itself.

  • I just went for a walk to get some coffee. I’d say 80% occupancy is pretty close to what I saw. One open spot every block. And I think extending into the evening would be beneficial as there rarely is parking available at night.

    There are also a couple city owned lots and I don’t know their pricing structure or hours. I’ll have to check those out at lunch.

    As I understand, the installation was very expensive. But I do think they received some federal grant money. Then again, we see the negative impacts of pushing through projects just to get federal grant money everywhere. I also think Redwood City was expecting much more growth commercially downtown (wasn’t every city) as there are still several prominent empty store fronts.

    The peninsula is a fickle beast. There isn’t a lot of mix use housing in the small downtown areas (something I feel is really hurting cities like RWC) so you have people “having” (use this term loosely) to drive which induces a false sense of needing a ton of parking. And a city feels that if they don’t provide that then those people, already in their cars, will just pass them by for the next downtown (e.g. the comparisons between RWC and San Carlos/Belmont/Menlo Park/etc). Not to mention they are also competing with shopping centers, strip malls, and box stores. A delicate dance for sure.

  • EL

    Thanks for checking mikesonn. It appears, based on 80%, that the rates shouldn’t go up.

    See this Redwood City parking page:

    http://www.redwoodcity.org/bit/transportation/parking/Overview.html

    It appears that they should focus on a low nighttime rate since there’s plenty of free and validated parking at night, not increase the daytime rate, and pray they make a bit more to cover the huge investment they made.

    Here’s a dumb question: Why do they have meters that take credit cards, pay by phone, etc. when the highest rate they have is a mere 50 cents per hour? I wonder what the credit card companies charge, and how long you’d have to park for the RWC to break even.

  • “I wonder what the credit card companies charge, and how long you’d have to park for the RWC to break even.”

    That is a good question. They don’t do it for free. And are you asking how long a person would need to park to cover the city’s cost of the credit card?

    “It appears that they should focus on a low nighttime rate since there’s plenty of free and validated parking at night, not increase the daytime rate”

    I’d agree. But then that touches on what I wrote about. RWC starts charging even the slightest bit at night and you run the risk of people just driving to another peninsula city. Tough for sure. But based on how packed the downtown is during the evening, I think it’s worth a 3 month trial at least.

    “Why do they have meters that take credit cards, pay by phone, etc. when the highest rate they have is a mere 50 cents per hour?”

    First, I think they expected the price to go up (for better or worse) but I think it also touches on the fact that paying needs to be as easy as possible. And if you are going to invest heavily in a new system, might as well buy the whole farm as it were. And 50 cents is still change that needs to be carried around and the meter still needs to be fed so I guess I can see an argument for providing that service. Devil’s advocate would say it is just too expensive for such small returns though.

  • EL

    mikesonn wrote: “Are you asking how long a person would need to park to cover the city’s cost of the credit card?”

    I guess what I’m really asking is how long does a person have to park at the current rates to break even on the capital and operating cost of the meter. I’m assuming there’s maintenance costs, wireless communication to handle the transaction, battery costs, money collection, etc. in addition to the credit card cost itself.

    The reality in RWC’s case is that it’s too expensive for such small returns, or in this case, a negative return.

  • That would be interesting to see. The stations are solar for what that’s worth.

  • EL

    Not quite. The stations have a solar panel to help recharge the batteries.

    http://www.digitalpaytech.com/resources/publications/brochures/LUKE.pdf

  • It’s like the Prius. “Green” isn’t really green.

    The parking plan document is a pretty interesting read. However, I saw no mention of how the meters were paid for, they only talked about why they did the pay-by-space.

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