New Parking App Maps Garages and Meters in San Francisco


When the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which runs Muni and manages city parking policies, completed the first-ever count of all the publicly available parking spaces in San Francisco, the agency hoped software developers would use the data to create apps to reduce the delays to transit caused by drivers circling the block in search of parking. Through the SFPark pilot, the SFMTA intends to make it easier and clearer for drivers where available parking is located so they spend less time in traffic and less time creating traffic.

One of the first new iPhone apps to take advantage of this data was released this week in the iTunes Store and is called San Francisco Parking by developer by Nick Capizzani, a recent graduate from Purdue University who founded Mobile Parking Apps. The application maps publicly available parking garages and includes hourly rates, monthly and early bird rates where applicable, and general information about meter rates and street sweeping throughout the city.

The app also includes motorcycle meter rates by zone and a feature that queries Craigslist for parking-related ads, from private monthly garage offerings to people hoping to make a buck on game-day parking near AT&T Park. It also has a feature to help users find their cars after parking them and a timer that counts down the time remaining on a meter.

Though it isn’t available currently, San Francisco Parking will soon
have BART parking garage and lot information through a partnership with Parking Carma, which monitors real-time occupancy data at BART facilities.

SF_Parking_App_meters.jpgA screen grab that shows meter rates in downtown areas.

Capizzani’s app is the first of its kind in San Francisco, but
at least one other app, Primo Spot, provides similar information in New
York City and Boston. The only other parking application on the San Francisco’s Data SF site is Accessible Parking SF, which maps blue zone parking for people with disabilities placards.

Capizanni admits his focus is not the congestion reduction strategies in
SFPark, but simply making it easier to find the space you want and to
compare rates and discounts at various garages.

"I’m trying to find them the cheapest, quickest spot, to make it
convenient for [drivers]," said Capizzani. "I wanted a centralized location where everyone could find out all their
parking information"

Still, apps like this might have ancillary congestion reduction benefits.

The SFMTA’s Jay Primus, Project Manager for SFPark, has said he expected a proliferation of apps and more information about parking supply would lead to "less circling for
parking, less
wasted fuel, and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions. It could help to save
both time and money."

At a minimum, San Francisco Parking will be well positioned to take advantage of the SFPark real-time data once it is released by the SFMTA later this year.

  • So drivers are going to be using this app while navigated downtown streets? Peds need to be even more vigilant.

  • andrew

    This is smart as it will save people driving around looking for metered spaces. Good advice is to query when STOPPED however.

  • It is still illegal to text (or use this app) when you are stopped at a light. Best advice would be to have a passenger do it for you, or do it before you leave the house. Once you are driving, put the phone down until you are parked.

  • intrigued

    I agree w/ mikesonn, though some people looking for parking are just as dangerous as people looking at their iphones. I don’t think it’s worth $$ for the app though. I was hoping it was free. I’m not even paying the $1.99 discounted price. I guess if you drive and need to street park frequently in SF, it might be worth purchasing. I imagine if you do drive regularly, you’re already familiar with garages. I don’t drive very often, but I know the rates/better garages in certain areas. I can’t imagine anyone driving and street parking often enough to make it worthwhile… especially since it doesn’t sound very safe!

  • Jameson

    I think this is a great idea. No longer will i need to leave 45 minutes early just to find parking. Plus I can locate the parking garages in the area and find the price that best fits me. To respond to intrigued, parking rates change all the time so you wont know when they do and $1.99 is cheap compared to everything else in San Francisco. This kid did a great job and we should all commence him for his effort. He is trying to improve the parking situation and stress that comes with parking in the city

    Good Job!!

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