Mayor Lee: I Will Have Tickets Issued to Double Parkers Who Block My Car

With the spotlight turned on the dangers and dysfunction that result from the sorry state of double-parking enforcement in San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee has staked out a position on the matter that seems to show a tone-deaf windshield perspective on city streets more than an actual commitment to making them safer.

Photo: ## Swift, Bay Citizen##

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who grilled parking enforcement officials at a hearing on double parking last week, asked the mayor at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting what he will “do to ensure that double parking enforcement is a priority where it impacts transit riders, pedestrians, and cyclists.”

“What specific goals and metrics do you propose we establish to ensure that the most impactful double parking behavior becomes an enforcement priority for the MTA and the police department?” Wiener asked Lee. “Will your office agree to report back in a year on the city’s stepped up enforcement efforts against double parking?”

The mayor’s prepared response started off with an anecdote about a recent encounter with double parkers who blocked his car while he was apparently being chauffeured around the Mission. The strongest commitment made by the mayor was that “next time, instead of rushing off to my appointment, I will ask my officers in my car to get out and issue those citations, if not strong warnings.”

“You couldn’t even turn the corner,” he said of the inconvenience he experienced when trying to turn off of Valencia on to 16th Street last week. “All three double-parkers were looking at each other as if nothing was wrong.”

Lee went on to mention that double parking creates hazards for people walking, biking, and driving, and that it “literally stops Muni,” and listed the measures the SFMTA has already taken to address it, such as increased enforcement and new loading zones. But while he said it’s “it’s clear we need to do more,” his commitments were limited to “meeting with both the MTA and police department to understand how we can better deal with double parking.”

“Specifically, I will task both of these departments to identify how we can change the culture to make our streets safer for all modes of transportation, while fostering a more transit-friendly San Francisco,” Lee told Wiener. “If it’s a part of a resource issue, I look forward to working with you and your colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to address the issue through the budgetary process.”

In the meantime, keep an eye out for the mayor out on the streets, “Carrying forth my personal commitment to you that everywhere I see it, I will stop it myself.”

  • mikesonn

    How soon can we have Weiner as mayor? Is tomorrow possible?

  • Anonymous


  • Julia Benson

    A double parking problem is really just a parking problem. Nobody double parks if there are legit parking spaces within easy reach.

    It’s not easy to add new parking in a densely used urban area. But if we keep removing parking for bus lanes, bike lanes, parklets and so on, can we legitimately complain when entropy than permeates driver behavior?

  • Johann

    Agree with your first point – it IS fundamentally a parking problem – but not your proposed solution.

    What this city needs is not more parking spaces but more spaces designated as passenger loading zones, plain and simple. Give people a legal and safe alternative to double parking. It’s better for everyone.

    Enforcement without trying to solve the problem will generate more revenue for the city, but it won’t solve the problem.

  • Anonymous

    “Nobody double parks if there are legit parking spaces within easy reach.”

    Disagreed. I have seen countless motorists double park when there were legal spaces within view. The culture of double parking in San Francisco is rooted in the certainty that this sort of selfish and illegal behavior will never, ever be cited by the biased SFPD.

  • Joel


  • Anonymous

    But it is very easy to price parking higher such that it matches demand.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not easy to add new parking in a densely used urban area. But if we
    keep removing parking for bus lanes, bike lanes, parklets and so on

    It is precisely bus lanes, bike lanes, and parklets that make this a densely used urban area. Cities that are not providing reasonable bus service (MUNI is not perfect but certainly reasonable), bike lanes, and public space along commercial corridors are failing. San Francisco is thriving.

  • Anonymous

    The city doesn’t have a parking problem. It has a car problem.
    In any case, there’s plenty of commercial lots around the city. It’s a “want something for free” problem. The solution is simple. Enforcement. It’s not hard. Double parking with your emergency lights on doesn’t make it okay. Being on a mission from God doesn’t make it okay.

  • Adrienne Johnson

    People only double park when there is no parking? Been in the Mission lately? People double park in the bike lanes to make phone calls right next to open spaces, taxis wait for fares in the lane next to open spaces, people double park right next to open spaces because they “are just getting a coffee” and don’t want to pay 50 cents to the meter…

  • Johann

    It’s a complicated issue. I don’t even own a car. And, like others have commented, I’ve witnessed people double parked on Valencia (rode by 3 of them this morning, in fact) when there was an open metered spot less than 50 feet away. BUT, you also have to be realistic and recognize that people aren’t going to abandon their cars overnight. I see a lot of people double parked dropping off their kids at daycare in the morning – why not convert some of the metered spots to passenger loading? Works in Chicago, Philly and New York but very few loading zones in SF. Carrot (loading zones) and stick (stepped up enforcement), right?

  • Anonymous

    In principal, I agree, but school unloading zones create enormous congestion generally, and I seriously question the need for kids to be driven to urban schools in the first place.

  • Winston Parsons

    In the afternoon I routinely ride past the county jail building at Bryant and 7th and am practically guaranteed to find someone illegally parked in the bike lane. This is all while the building is flanked with parked parked cop cars on most of the block They evidently aren’t worried about SFPD giving them a ticket or even being asked to move…

  • Jim

    A good example in a dense urban area is at a church daycare on Clay at Van Ness. During drop off and pick up times, the metered spaces switch to passenger loading. The queue of cars sometimes backs up into the intersection, blocking lanes of northbound VN and blocking the 1. Drivers who can’t make it into the queue will just double park next to the passenger drop off zone, and staff will pick up the kids. God forsake that these children have to ride the 1, 10, 12, 19, 27, 47, 49, or cable car to and from their daycare.

  • Anonymous

    @Johann I agree with the idea that there should be load/unloading zones on each block. I was imagining at the 1/3 and 2/3 marks of each block there would be 2 spaces (on each side or just one side?) reserved for 15 minute loading/unloading. These would be used by mail/package delivery, taxi cabs, people waiting to pick up friends, people moving in and out of an apartment, etc. Sure, people now might have to walk up to 1/3 of a block (god forbid!), but we all need a little exercise.

    And going along with this would be strict enforcement of double-parking.

    However, I total disagree that schools should have this. We should be doing everything to discourage parents from driving kids to school. Of course, the city needs to take some responsibility here by not providing a good bus service. But I can tell you that the parents-driving-their-kids-to-school thing is completely out of control. I live directly across from an elementary school, and between 8-8:30, my block (which is also a bike route) turn into an obnoxious zoo of double-parkers (sometimes even triple-parkers) and continual horn-honkers. It utterly destroys the everyone’s morning on my block and this kind of thing needs to end. This is definitely not something the city should be encouraging in any way.

  • Guest

    Muni is among the slowest bus agencies in the country.

  • Larry

    Maybe if San Francisco didn’t force parents to send their kids to schools miles away from their homes, even though there are schools within walking distance, then there would be less congestion and need for parents to temporarily double park?

  • Locanda

    If Supervisor Wiener had spent his hearing time also grilling SFPD about double parking enforcement, we might get somewhere. The thing about most of the double psrking in bike lanes is that it’s essentially a moving violation, because the parker moves once a PCO begins to enforce. What traffic enforcement does SFPD do, actually? Isn’t it quite well documented that SF doesn’t enforce vehicular behavior?

  • mikesonn

    Oops, iPhone post in haste. I’ll know which box to color in though on the ballot.

  • 94103er

    Nice try there, but 1) ‘San Francisco’ does no such thing–the school district is a totally separate entity 2) Parents are given a choice-based assignment system and the majority choose school outside their attendance area or neighborhood.

    Also, no one is forcing parents not to bike/take Muni/carpool.

  • Anonymous

    Lowell HS is sought out by people from across SF – nobody is forced to go there.

  • Anonymous

    It also services a small congested area where other transport options are similarly slow but travel distances here are short. To compare MUNI travel speeds to systems like Denver RTD where most buses are long haul express buses is disingenuous.

  • Karl

    SFUSD does have an allocation policy that goes well beyond “the nearest school”. It takes into account some socio-economic factors that leads to many children not going to their closest school even if that’s the first choice.

    SFUSD has tweaked it’s allocation algorithm and it’s better than it used to be, but talk to any SF parent and you’ll know there is still a lot of complaints.

    Attending your closest school should always be allowed unless a parent affirmatively chooses another one.

  • ilikeburritos

    The problems with people when something is done wrong, is that they expect to be let go with a warning. That is what they have been conditioned to. While it has been appreciated, now is the time to make people respect the laws.

    Just put out a statement and say if you are breaking the law, there will be no more warnings. You will be cited. Have any city vehicle fitted with a device to issue citations and include video. Use the tech industry to aide in the cities problems.

  • 94103er

    Yeah, great. Take your complaints to the school board. This is Streetsblog, and the only relevant takeaway point is that parents can and do make choices about where to send their kids, and it is unfortunate that not enough take into account how their travel patterns and method of dropping off have an impact on traffic in our city or the safety of others traveling from place to place.

  • Nathan

    I think the point being made wasn’t that some children are forced to attend any particular school, but rather that children can be forced not to attend their local school if that also happens to be their first choice.

    Any policy that causes even some children to attend a school that isn’t close to their home will increase traffic, congestion and – at school open and close time – more double parking around the school entrance.

  • I’ve had my car legally parked at a meter get double-parked-in for a good 10 minutes on 9th Ave between Irving & Judah (which is on the N Judah line but pretty sure the train was not blocked). We looked around, honked a couple times (trying not to piss off the innocent residents) and eventually sat on the hood of the offending car (I started it, but we figured my wife was less likely to get punched). Eventually a woman came out of a laundromat and was aghast that someone was sitting on her car–she was “only parked there 2 minutes”, “How rude!!”

  • Fernet Diary

    Did I miss the mention of automated tickets from Muni bus cameras in this article?

    What if the SF 311 app allowed anyone to submit a photo of double parked cars for potential ticketing by MTA?

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Mayor Lee is too besotted with the billionaire Warriors owner and his junket to China. Amazing how republican Bloomberg in ten times larger New York City is more proactive with transportation and traffic. Our Mayor just smiles and drives away in his limo. Gawd ferbid we should have drivers actually signaling their turns so we mere rabble can avoid being run over. The Ed Lee story – from bureaucrat to autocrat – no interest in ensuring people can afford and survive daily living in SF.

  • bobtobb

    Hear, hear.

  • sebra leaves

    If BART goes on strike you can expect a lot more gridlock and double parking since all those cars coming in across the multibillion dollar wonder bridge will have no place to park once they arrive.

  • sebra leaves

    I see a lot of people sitting in cars right next to perfectly legal parking spaces. I think the reason people double park is because they don’t know the rules of the road any more. All the new smart meters and signs are so confusing, it is easier to sit in the road while someone runs in to do an errand than trying to figure out how to park legally.

  • Anonymous

    What a shock. The corrupt lying Mayor says and does nothing. But hey he’s cut a mustasche! isn’t he a cutie pie! Lee in 2015! he’ll win despite being an asshole!

  • Archie Leach

    From riding my bike throughout the City over the years, I can see how destructive double-parking is to the flow of traffic and thus I’m an advocate that it should be the legal duty of citizens to violently pull the double-parking offenders out of their cars and beat the sheet out of them to within an inch of their worthless lives.


SF Board of Supervisors Meeting

Agenda: Of note: 1. 1309851 [Formal Policy Discussions – October 8, 2013]  Pursuant to Charter, Sections 2.103 and 3.100(7), and Administrative Code, Section 2.11, the Mayor shall answer the following eligible question submitted from the Supervisor representing District 8. The Mayor may address the Board initially for up to five minutes. Discussion shall not exceed five […]

Wiener to SFMTA: Don’t Warn Double-Parkers, Cite Them

Typo correction: The SFMTA says commercial vehicles are only allowed to double park when there is no legal parking space nearby. At a hearing this week on the prevalence of double-parking in SF, Supervisor Scott Wiener said parking control officers shouldn’t give double-parked drivers a chance to move before receiving a citation. “If the worst thing […]