Board of Supervisors Approves Bill Permitting Citywide Parking Rentals

A bill allowing many residential parking spaces to be rented to residents citywide was passed unanimously by the SF Board of Supervisors yesterday despite criticisms that it could encourage car commuting and discourage property owners from converting garages to housing units.

Supervisor Scott Wiener. Image: SFGovTV

At a board meeting last week, D5 Supervisor Christina Olague proposed postponing approval of the legislation for further analysis in response to a letter from Jason Henderson, a geography professor and chair of the Market and Octavia Citizens Advisory Council (and occasional Streetsblog contributor).

Henderson, along with Livable City’s Tom Radulovich, argued that the measure had not been properly vetted by advocates and staff from the Municipal Transportation Agency for the impacts of allowing most residential parking to be rented to anyone in the city, eliminating the existing requirement that renters live within 1,250 feet of the parking space.

But the bill was pushed through after other supervisors said they felt further consideration unnecessary. The provision removing the 1,250-foot rule was one piece of a larger, generally popular proposal to simplify procedures for collecting the parking tax from property owners who own five or fewer parking spaces.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who sponsored the legislation, said the reform was necessary to encourage property owners to begin paying the tax on spaces rented to non-building residents, which has gone virtually unknown and uncollected since it was put in place in the 1970s. Wiener also argued that the current 1,250-foot rule is unenforceable, and that the provision was properly vetted by the Planning Department.

“There’s no reason to continue [the legislation] based on an email that was sent at eleven o’clock the night before, where there had been no outreach to me, or anyone else that I’m aware of about continuing it, and I don’t think that the reasons stated are valid,” said Wiener.

Responding to Wiener, Henderson wrote to the board that the real lack of outreach was on changing the 1,250-foot rule, a measure instituted in 2008 and supported by Livable City to allow more flexible rentals of parking spaces while preventing them from being used by commuters. Henderson said the Market and Octavia CAC, which is active in advocating for reduced parking built in the area around Hayes Valley, was unaware of the measure until members read a Streetsblog article that was published five days before the initial vote.

“We appreciate the simplification of taxation but there was a rider on this legislation,” Henderson wrote to the board. “Yes, a rider — to expand a market for parking in a way that may encourage more parking rather than implementing transit first and affordable housing. You voted for the rider.”

The legislation is expected to go into effect at the start of next year.

  • mikesonn

    North Beach, your commuter parking paradise!

  • Mario Tanev

    I don’t think this is necessarily a bad idea, although it would have been ideal to study its effects on inducing driving (I think the city should have a mechanism to monitor these things and adjust course, which is the best type of study). If the city moves towards regulating total parking supply or traffic volumes (congestion pricing), any negative effects will be contained. This measure means more efficient use of space, and setting a price on parking, which is good.

  • Dave

    Looks like just another Bialick post of “Good for anyone but a cyclist == bad”

  • mikesonn

    As a resident of North Beach, this is horrible. But I’d love to hear why you think this is good.

  • @Dave Totally.

  • @13f7e3521ed0bf85a61c9367d5d6feb2:disqus Totally.

  • Dave

    Bialick: and there you have it. You’re not interested in things being better overall. You’re interested in them being better for yourself. That’s fine, most people are. But please refrain from making the “better for everyone” arguments only when they suit your end (biking cleans the air, saves lives, etc..). Just own up to the fact that you want to reduce the overall speed of traffic in the City to that of a bike so that your personal experience is better and stop being so self righteous.

  • mikesonn

    Dave, still waiting for you to tell us why you think this is a good plan.

  • Dave

    I can’t tell if it would be good or bad overall. In general I think people should be able to use their property the way they want so the burden of proof should be on the side stopping them to show that it’s too harmful to allow. I can see some benefits to home owners who have another way to monetize their property. I can see some benefits to a set of renters who might find it easier to rent a parking space that was farther away from where they live. I can see some benefit to a set of commuters who could rent a space for parking their car. Would that increase the overall number of cars? Probably somewhat. Would it take away some number of parking space to rental space conversions? It seems unlikely that this would be the thing stopping it. That would come more from how expensive it is to do the work and what you could rent if for. So is the net positive or negative? Hard to tell. In any case it doesn’t seem like something so bad or so permanent we shouldn’t try it. 

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