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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.

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.

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