Daly City Votes to Continue Subsidizing Residential Parking Permits

Willits Street two blocks south of the Daly City BART Station. Only residents are allowed to park vehicles in the street on weekday mornings, and each residence may receive up to three free permits. Photo: Google Maps

Daly City’s City Council shot down a proposal last month to charge $40 a year for residential parking permits near the city’s BART station. The permits, which give resident car owners privileged access to on-street parking, are currently free.

The proposed fee, which amounts to 11 cents per day, elicited raucous opposition from public commenters at the council meeting. The fee would have applied only to a household’s third and fourth parking permits, leaving the first two permits free. The maximum number of permits each household could receive would be capped at four vehicles, up from the current three.

“The proposed fee would encourage driveway and off-street parking; reduce traffic congestion; create a safer pedestrian environment in the affected neighborhoods; recover the costs for processing parking permits and a small portion of the cost for parking permits enforcement,” wrote Daly City Director of Finance and Administrative Services Lawrence Chiu.

The argument to stop subsidizing parking quite so much didn’t get very far. City Council Member Judith Christensen called the proposal “outrageous.”

“That would be 1,039 people who will be paying $40 for something that for 20 years was free,” she noted, pointing to the city’s data on how many households are now parking a third or fourth vehicle in the street.

“I’m absolutely opposed to the raising of parking permit fees… we should disapprove any fee whatsoever,” said Council Member David Canepa.

Even Council Member Mike Guingona, who has been a vocal proponent of making Daly City friendlier for walking and biking, said his “gut feeling tells me we should keep it the way it is, the status quo,” eliciting cheers from attendees.

Preferential Residential Parking Permits have been free to residents of neighborhoods near the city’s BART station since 1977, in an attempt “to keep commuters from parking in adjacent residential areas and taking spaces from residents.”

Daly City now gives away parking permits to 1,453 households. The program costs taxpayers $68,000 per year, with fines bringing in $80,000 and administration and enforcement costing $148,000.

The net cost comes out to $47 per household with permits. The proposed fees would have cut the subsidy to $30 per household receiving permits, according to estimates presented at the January council meeting.

Drivers must have a permit, issued only to residents, to park vehicles near the Daly City BART Station on any of the streets shown in red, on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Image: Andrew Boone, Google Maps

The owners of some of the nearly 4,000 vehicles now receiving parking permits contended that they have a right to store their property for free on public streets. “When [the city] started the permits it was to keep people from San Mateo, from Burlingame, from parking in our neighborhoods, so we as property owners can park in front of our own homes,” said resident Mary Durham.

Resident José Gonzales, whose comments were translated from Spanish, said that he’s retired and lives on just $800 per month. “He said he came here to protest possibly paying rent to park on the streets. It’s like taking food away from our mouths because this is money that we need to survive,” said the translator. Again, the fee would not even apply to a household’s first two parking permits.

“I think clearly the will of the people has spoken tonight,” concluded Mayor Ray Buenaventura after the public hearing. “As an elected official, I do not want to make any revenue on the backs of people who are working.” Buenaventura then proposed forming a “parking task force” composed of city staff and residents to study ways to address the city’s soaring on-street parking demand, an idea praised by his fellow City Council members.

“To keep everything the same, yes! No fees!” exclaimed Christensen when she voted against the $40 fee. Raising the maximum number of parking permits issued per residence from three to four was also rejected with the proposal.

Is parking reform completely hopeless in Daly City? Maybe not. On December 8, the City Council unanimously approved raising rates at its 553 parking meters on commercial streets to a consistent $1 per hour, from rates set in 2004 that ranged between 25 cents and $1.

  • Boo

    what they should do is start ticketing all the cars blocking the sidewalk. make up the money for the subsidy that way

  • bobster1985

    Good grief, third and fourth vehicles parking on the street?

  • BBnet3000

    Each house in that picture appears to have 2 spots MAX in front of it. Giving everyone 3 is blatantly stuffing the streets with cars even if you assume that we shouldn’t bother to put a price on storing your private properly on the public right of way.

  • Elias Zamaria

    This sounds ridiculous. Any individual or family that would have trouble paying 11 cents per day shouldn’t own 3 cars.

  • Gezellig

    Yeah and you barely even only get 2 if you block your driveway (a lot of people in Daly City and nearby Ingleside, where I used to live, do this).

  • Golden Gate Shark

    That photo is hilarious with all the cars parked all over the place looking like Belgrade. Daly city politicians should be ashamed of themselves pandering to a few residents at the cost of the whole city. Those houses all have other families living in their garages or a mountain of junk and costco hoarding so instead of actually just putting the car in the garage they want free parking on the street. What a joke. They probably have no trees on that street because they don’t want to lose their precious sidewalk parking. That block looks like my worst nightmare.

  • Gezellig

    One thing about those neighborhoods is that they’re often quite densely populated. Though the city considers them “single-family” homes, many people rent out the in-law on the first floor, which depending on the house may itself have several people in addition to the handful of people living upstairs.

    I used to live in an in-law in nearby Ingleside (similar housing) where the first-floor in-law unit had two bedrooms: 1) mine and 2) another shared by two college kids. Add the 6 people living in the 3 bedrooms upstairs (a combo of couples and college kids) and we had 9 people living in what the SF County Assessor considers a “single-family” home (which in practice was 2 separate apartments with 2 separate kitchens and remodeled to have 4 bathrooms…clearly intended for renting a max number of people in there).

    This is very common. And a direct outcome of SF and other Bay Area communities’ refusal to build sufficient housing over the decades of any notable density.

    The problem happens when all 9 people or whatever living in each of these setups has a car. (I never quite got that. I had several housemates who only moved their cars for street cleaning and otherwise rarely used them since even in Ingleside transit options are plenty and it’s pretty walkable).

  • KL

    Interpreter, not translator.

  • David Marcus

    “There’s San Francisco and the rest of the world is just Daly City” -Jerry Garcia

  • I am always astonished by the sheer number of cars parked in front of any given house in California. Who are these people who need six or more cars?!

  • That “always been free” argument is a powerful one for the people who are used to the free perk, They manage to get really outraged at the injustice of it all, act very much like a lynch mob of bloodthirsty thugs. The SF PARK community meetings in the Mission were super ugly.

  • vcs

    In many cases, there’s at least six people living there because that’s the only way to afford to live in this area.

  • p_chazz

    Of course. Most people, except for starry-eyed socialists, act in their own interest, so they are not going to voluntarily agree to this. And politicians like to be seen giving things to their constituencies. That’s why they have ribbon-cutting ceremonies. No politician wants to be seen taking things away. So this was an entirely predictable outcome.

  • Zig

    At least around SF and this area it is because there is a housing mismatch between what is needed which is multi-family and what is avaliable which is post war row houses

  • Zig

    It is a failure to let the market built the housing that is needed. The Excelsior has the same problem. Residents are just trying to make it work

  • Rosalva

    Thought-provoking analysis ! Coincidentally , others have been needing a a form , my family saw a blank document here http://goo.gl/4nIFXF.

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Alan Durning is the executive director of Sightline. This post is #15 in the Sightline series, Parking? Lots! Imagine if you could put a meter in front of your house and charge every driver who parks in “your” space. It’d be like having a cash register at the curb. Free money! How much would you collect? Hundreds […]