Reiskin: Let’s Keep Sunday Parking Meters, But Not Enforce Them

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said today that he thinks the agency should keep Sunday parking meters but back off on actually enforcing them.

Ed Reiskin. Photo: The Phantom Cab Driver Phites Back

At an SFMTA Board of Directors meeting, Reiskin said he recommends “that we significantly re-deploy our resources away from Sunday meter enforcement. We have a lot more higher-pressing needs, particularly during the week during the evening rush, for example, in terms of traffic enforcement.”

“I think that leaves us the most flexibility while directly answering the mayor’s call of addressing the concern about Sunday parking, and particularly the high rate of citations that would be issued,” said Reiskin, who said the other options on the table would be to only enforce four-hour time limits or to end Sunday metering altogether. “Given the strength of the mayor’s resolve, and the concerns we’ve heard from the community, that pursuing one of these options would be a good-faith gesture while preserving the transportation benefit that we were seeking by instating the meters.”

Sunday metering has cut in half the time it takes to find a commercial parking spot on Sundays and boosted turnover for merchants by at least 20 percent. Would it still work if motorists know that no one is minding the store? Meters-with-no-enforcement might salvage some benefits, but it would still be a frustrating setback, all based on the mayor’s unfounded claims of “non-stop” complaints about Sunday metering, which don’t seem to be coming from anyone but church leaders.

Sunday parking meter citations have been slowly declining as drivers get used to the policy. The citation rate is still higher than normal — but not by that much. According to a recent SFMTA report [PDF], the rate of citations as a proportion of meter revenue on Sundays was at 35 percent in December, down from the peak of 48 percent in February. For all seven days of the week, the rate was 24 percent in December — though it varies, running as high as 34 percent last March.

Reiskin acknowledged the benefits that Sunday metering has brought, but as a mayoral appointee he isn’t expected to stray far from Lee’s irrational, pandering push for free parking. “Our analysis of the program in the first year showed that it achieved the goal,” he said. “It did increase parking availability, so we’re happy with that, but share the mayor’s concern that a very high number of people are getting parking citations, whether it’s because it’s a new program, or the signage wasn’t good enough, or for whatever reason, people were so used to there not being enforcement on Sundays.”

SFMTA Board Chair Tom Nolan, who has said he supports the mayor’s push to repeal Sunday parking metering, didn’t comment on the issue at the meeting. Cheryl Brinkman, the board’s vice chair, noted that the SFMTA is working on upgrading parking meters to accept credit cards, and suggested that the SFMTA simply “add better signage, re-deploy enforcement to days and areas that it’s really needed, then take another look at that.”

“If we can’t get that citation rate down to something that looks like the other days of the week, then maybe we need to re-visit that,” she said.

Sunday meters brought in $6 million last year for Muni, walking, and biking improvements. If the city does eliminate Sunday meters, it would have to be approved by the SFMTA Board as part of its budget, but laying off on enforcement could be done without their vote.

  • timsmith

    How can meters have hours of enforcement if they are not enforced? Reduced enforcement may be a viable political strategy. This is just silly.

  • Faded_seaside

    Ha, good April Fool’s joke. Right? …. Right?

  • timsmith

    (April fools, duh)

  • twinpeaks_sf

    You really can’t be charging over $2/hr (it’s getting up to $6/hr in some places during peak hours) without allowing people to pay with credit cards. Wonder why that wasn’t brought up.

    The SFMTA should really speed up the process of getting those upgraded meters and then I think we’ll be fine. So many times I’ve seen people frustrated with paying – simply because they don’t have a pocket full of quarters.

    Better yet, we should be able to pay with Clipper.

  • Cheryl Brinkman did bring it up, asking Ed when the current rollout of new meters is expected to be completed — he said by the end of the year. No more than that was said, though.

  • bobster1985

    I guess Tom Nolan doesn’t want to jeopardize his high-paying position by pissing off Mayor Lee. I can think of no other reason why he’s going along with this farce.

  • Just so there’s no confusion, this is definitely not an April Fools joke.

  • timsmith

    Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.

  • Michael Smith

    I believe that Tom only gets about $50/meeting. Given the length of the meetings and the additional work this is most likely less then the minimum wage.

    But to be clear, I completely disagree with Tom’s position.

  • Bing Wu

    The mayor wants to get rid of meters and he may well have his way, but Reiskin’s proposal is a reasonable compromise. Sunday metering stays, Ed Lee gets what he wants and enforcement can be restored when we have a better mayor without another debate over Sunday meters. That’s how it sounds to me

  • Mario Tanev

    I can understand the argument that something is awry when the citation rate is higher than the other days. It could be that:

    1. Enforcement is higher on Sundays, in which scaling it down (but not eliminating it) doesn’t sound bad. As far as I understand, this is not the case.
    2. People are still not used to Sunday meters, or refuse to pay for whatever reason. Scaling down enforcement will probably not help to solve the root problem.

    This solution is akin to the 85th percentile speed limit solution. When too many people speed, just make it legal, rather than make it less likely that they speed.

    If people are confused then Muni needs to improve signage and awareness. If people are refusing to pay, Muni should INCREASE enforcement, which will eventually reduce citations.

    But I have to say it’s a smart political move on Reiskin’s part. Even though I am sure he knows it won’t have the desired effect, it won’t make that much of a difference either (because Muni will still aim for the same citation rate as on other days).

  • Bruce Halperin

    When too many people speed the street needs to be redesigned so that people aren’t tempted to do so. I’m not sure what the analogue would be here, though – maybe encourage people to take transit rather than drive and get a parking ticket?

  • Mario Tanev

    Make signage better, perhaps? Increase enforcement even more so that people learn? Perhaps the 12 pm start time is confusing – people arrive in the morning – no cost and don’t realize they’ll be charged later. Change the start time to 9 am like every other day.

  • JB

    Doesn’t most, if not all, meters currently support pay by phone? I know there is a 40 cents charge for that, but that is an option even if it’s not as convenient as inserting a card into the meter.

    Is there a surcharge for using credit cards in the kiosk or meters with the credit card reader built in also?

  • Richard Mlynarik

    It’s inevitable that some innocent road users is going to be badly injured some day as a direct result of the out-of-control mid-street parking of the insane religious nutjobs, but you can bet your bottom dollar that none of the above-the-law chuch=state whackjobs involved will pay any price.

    What a disgusting., corrupt, horribly run, pay-to-play city.

  • sebra leaves

    April Fools?

  • David D.

    Reiskin’s quote in the second paragraph of the article cannot be understated. What most likely happened is that some PCO’s were rescheduled to work on Sundays, making them unavailable on weekday afternoons. Some parts of the City are absolute zoos during the PM peak, and severe congestion has a negative impact on buses just as much as it does cars. There are very real financial and service implications to public transit when it is trapped by congestion, and some of this congestion can be alleviated by the presence of PCO’s at intersections. I would rather see PCO’s doing traffic duty on weekday afternoons than issuing parking tickets on Sunday afternoons.

  • njudah

    Tom Nolan’s suburban politician mentality needs to be removed from the board and should have been removed long ago. His 20th century car first philosophy has no place on the MTA, and it’s time for him to go.

  • jamiewhitaker

    If folks want an easy way to send a message to Ed Lee, Ed Reiskin, and the SFMTA Board, I’ve set up a petition at MoveOn.org here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/leave-sunday-parking

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