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Bevan Dufty

Newsom Opposed to Sunday Parking Enforcement, Study or No

2:32 PM PDT on May 29, 2009

418129740_0f8f7155c5.jpgA free parking meter in San Francisco. Flickr phto: .dru

It's no surprise, but it's troubling. Mayor Gavin Newsom has confirmed to Streetsblog that he remains opposed to extending parking meter enforcement to Sundays, despite a promise by MTA Chief Nat Ford that it's being studied and remains on the table for consideration, along with evening metering to 10 p.m. -- revenue measures that would raise $9 million --  potentially offsetting fare hikes and service cuts, changes Ford still has the power to make (within five percent).

"I don't support Sunday parking. I don't think that was part of the
budget and...I support the budget as passed.  I don't
believe in it," Newsom, a former parking and traffic commissioner, said yesterday following a press conference to unveil a new Muni bus shelter. 

Newsom's fervent opposition comes despite a change of heart by several politicians and organizations, including some that have traditionally opposed increasing parking enforcement. As Supervisor John Avalos explained at a recent BOS meeting "times have changed" and "there’s a different feeling about moving forward on revenue from parking that didn’t exist before." Except, of course, from the politician with the most power over the MTA.

Even the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce likes the idea of Sunday metering: "We favored Sunday enforcement because that will turn over parking for merchants just like it does on Saturday," said Jim Lazarus, the chamber's senior vice president.

As we've written, other cities that have managed street space with market-rate pricing and curbside vacancy targets, and have invested
additional revenues in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure
improvements, have seen a rise in business, not a drop. There was further proof of that this week, with the release of a TA study noting that most shoppers in downtown San Francisco don't drive.

But with Newsom opposed, the Sunday measure is not likely to be added back in, even if a study favors it, because, as the MTA and its Board proved during this latest budget cycle, it is not independent, instead taking orders from the Mayor.

Ford told Streetsblog after this week's BOS meeting that "it would be premature" to assume the Mayor would oppose stronger parking enforcement after a study, but talk of penciling it in now seems like lip service or insincerity. Even if stronger parking enforcement is resurrected, such as evening metering, it will most likely be watered down.

Ford did indicate that the MTA's current 90-day study on parking enforcement might include outreach to merchants.

"My concern is it’s seen as simply automobile users versus transit users. That’s not the exact equation. There’s also the small businesses that are suffering out there, and we wanted an opportunity to go out there and explain to them that from a parking standpoint, it may mean more turnover, which may mean more business for them."

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a likely mayoral candidate who is also opposed to Sunday and evening metering, said Castro merchants might be open to an experiment of either Sunday enforcement or evenings but they don't want both.

“Small business people are almost more passionate about parking than almost any issue but health care in this city, and so I just want to be sensitive to that and to talk to them and bring them into the process,” he said.

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