The New Sunday in SF: Fewer Cars Clogging Up Your Commercial Street

Happy New Year, indeed. This Sunday will mark the day when San Francisco finally catches up with the times and runs parking meters during business hours on Sundays, ending the nonsensical weekly tradition of allowing prime parking spots in front of shops to sit occupied for free while drivers circle endlessly around the block.

The meters will run from 12 to 6 p.m., when demand for parking is highest. That means turnover will be higher and fewer drivers be distractedly searching for spots, wasting gas and adding to the noise, air pollution, and danger on the streets.

To help get the word out about Sunday metering, the city produced the above PSA featuring a parking meter and an ice cream sundae.

Unfortunately, religious leaders still maintain that this long overdue transportation reform is just the SFMTA’s way of attacking every marginalized group they can name. For SF Interfaith Council Director Michael Pappas, who appeared in the SF Chronicle yesterday, the victim of choice this time around was volunteers who serve the poor. Note that Pappas has yet to publicly voice any concern over volunteers paying for unreliable Muni service on Sundays, or for the safety of volunteers who walk or bike to their destinations. Sunday metering is going to reduce the illegal parking that slows Muni and often endangers people walking and biking.

Pappas does, however, indirectly hint at one unresolved question: Will the SFMTA’s parking enforcement officers continue to allow drivers to illegally co-opt traffic lanes and bike lanes as free church parking lots on Sundays?

  • I find it odd the SFMTA’s parking cops are only giving warning notices on windshields for the first three Sundays this month.  What’s the point of enforcing it when they aren’t giving out tickets with a financial penalty?

  • mikesonn

    Because we have to coddle drivers.

  • I think it’s more about trying to be effective in communication about the change.  First of all this change took a bit of political will and had a lot of people losing their minds over, so don’t try to just shrug it off.  With that ‘OMG!’ in mind: Second there are people who haven’t been following this issue for months & years and may not even have heard.

    Combine 1 and 2 for the win:  I just saw a neighbor very recently post about this ‘new’ way the SFMTA’s going to be ‘gouging’ drivers on

  • I support the policy, but what an odd video…

  • Anonymous

    The analogy with public transit would be … oh wait, there isn’t one, because public transit users *always* have to pay, be it Sundays, evenings, or whatever. But the poor motorists who are used to having the true cost of their driving externalized will throw a fit when they are suddenly asked to just start to pay the true cost of their driving. So you better give them some time to adjust from paying nothing to paying a fraction of the true cost their driving causes. Any other way would be unfair, right? I mean, you can’t expect motorists to actually read the signs on the meters (or anywhere else).

  • Justin

    Does this also mean SFMTA will start ticketing drivers who park in the middle of the street on weekends? Not only Valencia, where there are meters, but also non-metered streets like Dolores. When you call and ask them to enforce the law because cars parked in the street is dangerous, they are quick to tell you “we’ll send someone out there, but if there is a church nearby, they won’t write tickets.” 

  • Anonymous

    The most relevant argument I’ve heard from friends adversely impacted by this is that the city needs to overcome the poor non-automotive connection between the western and eastern halves of the city. The Geary BRT can’t happen soon enough.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. It is ridiculous that cars can double park on Dolores and Valencia at will. On Valencia, the problem could easily be solved by getting rid of that useless center turn lane (er, parking lane) and use the space for creating a buffered cycletrack on the opposite side of parked cars and/or widening the sidewalk. On Dolores, get rid of one of the 2 lanes in each direction; there is no reason that raod needs 2 lanes. Use the increase in space to add a bike lane or increase the green island in the middle, then get rid of the ridiculously huge curb and put a path down the middle of it and the space will actually get used rather be wasted as it is now (well, it does serve the purpose of making cars feel like they can go faster).

  • voltairesmistress

    I’m looking forward to taking the whole family by car to more distant neighborhoods where we couldn’t previously find Sunday parking.  Very willing to pay for this, as I think other people will be who have a priority errand or activity that’s easier by car than by bike or transit.  If it takes three January weekends to ease the transition and make it more politically palatable to drivers accustomed to 50+ years of free Sunday parking, I think we can spare those three weeks.

  • Ted King

    It seemed a very clean video that used a symbol (an ice cream soda/sundae) and an auditory cue (church bells) to get the point across. The alternative would probably been some sort of scrolling text in English, Spanish, and Chinese (at a minimum).


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