Today’s Headlines

  • Referendums to Allow 8 Washington, With 327 Parking Spaces, Fail on the Ballot (SFGate)
  • Supervisor Katy Tang Keeps D4 Seat, Pledges to Continue Work on Muni and Ped Safety (SFGate)
  • ABC Attempts to Show Bicycling in SF From a Two-Wheeler’s Perspective
  • SFPD Motorcycle Officer Injured by Driver Making U-Turn on Second Street (SFGate)
  • Mission Parking Spot Dispute Ends With Man Assaulted, Robbed of Laundry (SF Examiner)
  • SF Weekly: “S-1 Gards Are a Proactive Device. But Muni Remains a Reactive Agency.”
  • SFMTA Approves $200k More for Central Subway Dig (Exam), North Beachers Sue (Courthouse)
  • Muni’s Service Boost During BART Strike Cost $700,000 (SF Examiner)
  • BART Lets Riders Try Out New Seats (SF Weekly); Oakland Tribune: BART “Got Rolled” on Labor Deal
  • Some Apparently Confused by Oakland’s Green-Carpet Sharrow Lanes on 40th Street (KTVU)
  • SMCTA Defers Funding for Caltrain Grade-Separated Crossing in San Mateo (Green Caltrain)
  • CHP Launches Crackdown on Aggressive Drivers (Do They Usually Ignore Them?) (KTVU)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Anonymous

    That KTVU story on Oakland’s 40th Street green sharrows is the worst one yet. For a much better perspective including some actual reporting check out the East Bay Express article here:

  • Andy Chow

    Regarding the grade separation funding, it is the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) that deferred funding to Menlo Park only but granted funding to other projects in the county. SMCTA is not SamTrans. SMCTA is like SFCTA that they’re sales tax distribution agencies. SFCTA is separate from SFMTA which is SamTrans’ counterpart in SF. The only thing common between SMCTA and SamTrans is that SamTrans provids staffing support for SMCTA (like it is doing for Caltrain) but they have separate boards and meetings.

  • 94103er

    I guess I’m glad props B and C went down in flames–? I have a feeling people voted ‘no’ because they were completely confused.

    What happens now? Can we hope this ugly parking lot gets developed in a market-sensible way, i.e. with not many parking spaces?

  • Mario Tanev

    With views like that, it may attract rich people from the peninsula, east coast or China who may want to have a car. So I wouldn’t necessarily rely on the market to reduce the number of parking spaces (though it does seem that some of them are due to demands by the Port of San Francisco). San Francisco really needs to have very firm limits to reduce car ownership. Allowing 1:1 in new units increases car ownership since it assumes 100% of households have a car, whereas the current number is closer to 60% right now. Given that San Francisco wants to reduce car ownership, the parking quota must by necessity be lower than current use. So I think it’s absolutely fair to ignore the market and set a cap. The market can then operate within that cap.

  • AJ

    “Some cyclists say they’re staying out of that green lane and prefer to ride towards the right side of the road.

    But we found some cyclists are staying out of the green lane, preferring to ride toward the right side of the road. Some drivers’ say they’ll avoid driving in the lane altogether even though they have every legal right to be there.”

    KTVU Fail

  • Mario Tanev

    In other news:

    – ENUF claims to have delayed meters in the Mission again:

    – The parking-free 1050 Valencia barely squeaked 6-5 at the SFBOS hearing, with a lot of opponents of TOD (no news report on that yet, but it was reported on carfree-living):

  • mikesonn

    With SFMTA laying down at every turn and no political support for our Transit First City, it’ll only get harder with each passing project.

  • Working on a report on the 1050 Valencia hearing now.

    As for the meter delay, my understanding is the approvals were delayed because attendees who came after seeing the notice properly argued that it wasn’t properly noticed. Mari Eliza (ENUF) apparently misunderstood the hearing notice and still thinks that “ordinance 5176” is the ordinance establishing parking meters. It is actually the ordinance that sets noticing requirements for public hearings.

    So ENUF apparently got a bunch of letters and speakers in opposition to hearing notices.

  • mikesonn


  • Anonymous

    You may be right that lower parking caps are needed. I would think, however, that a better and more effective measure would be to pass a local law that all future multi-unit developments (residential and commercial) need to lease or sell their parking spaces as separate items from the units in the buildings. Most wealthy people, adults with children, and those with commitments to work or family outside easy transit areas want access to a private car whenever it is inconvenient to use transit/bike/walking. Allowing people to pay for market priced car storage near their residences may not please absolutists, but it does seem pragmatic. It means that less parking will be built, because people will make market-based decisions about owning fewer or no cars. But such a law would not discourage development the way low caps would.

    On an anecdotal note: I know a high-earning couple that considered moving to an apartment in Russian Hill, but the lack of parking and lack of pay-to-park options in the neighborhood (nearest commercial garage was 1 mile from the building and down a steep hill) made that impractical. In their case, it was impractical without one go-to car to take care of multi-generational family members and work commitments all outside of San Francisco. I just can’t imagine luxury or many mid-market level developments fetching the necessary price if they had no paid parking in the complex or nearby.

  • mikesonn

    If they need parking that badly, then maybe Russian Hill isn’t for them and thanks okay.

  • 94103er

    I mildly agree, but I wonder if there’s a better economic tool the city can use than parking maximums.

    We all agree here that the problem with off-street parking is induced demand, cars coming in and out of one area, driveways cutting across pedestrian paths, etc. So maybe the city should be putting a high price on the curb-cut build–you want this, you have to pay for a protected bike lane on this block. I dunno, just a thought.

  • Anonymous

    Mike, your dismissal of one family’s needs seems to me to reflect YOUR absolutism. I can’t take this seriously.

  • mikesonn

    It is cheaper to build housing without parking (coupled to unit or not). If a rich family doesn’t want a unit because no parking then the market shrinks and lowers the cost further. I see this as a plus.

    As to me dismissing your example, there is PLENTY of parking on Russian Hill, they just didn’t look (I’d say hard but clearly didn’t look at all). Walk around North Beach and Russian Hill, so many garages! Still don’t see the point of your example.

  • Anonymous

    The luxury/mid-market level development inside SF isn’t necessarily targeting someone you describe. And Mike isn’t dismissing their needs, he’s dismissing their ability to live in a crowded hard to park neighborhood at the top of a steep hill. It may have been easier to do such “back in the day” with fewer people, elders with shorter lifespans, more affinity to local schools, high-income single earner families, etc…

    Read that, and then look at prices in Noe Valley, where the hills are less steep, and parking is simpler. They are going up. That’s reality dictating the market behavior, rather than a perception of what reality should be trying to get us to figure out how to put a round peg in a square hole somehow.

    Living in the city is complicated. The question for the readers is whether providing copious easy to purchase parking, which solves the problem of “where do I park at home” creates other, more pernicious problems. If you can park your car but cram your 2 kids into one bedroom is that better? If you have easy access to a car so you drive across town to a private school instead of walking to a local public school, would you be better off using that time and money and invest it in the local public school?

    And guess what – living *not* in the city is complicated too 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know the full extent of their search, just that they did google searches for nearest paid parking options. Maybe if one walks a neighborhood carefully, one can find those private garages.

    What strikes me about SF vs Vancouver is that SF has a lower car ownership percentage but much higher car use rate. Vancouver seems to have found a way for people to own a car but not need to use it, probably because transit is quick and extensive. Somehow I think if we could vote in the right leadership (Scott Wiener?), we could put into practice the transit lanes, signaling, and BRT lines, the protected bike lanes, and maybe extend the subway to the Wharf + Presidio — all things that would convince residents to own fewer cars and leave them in paid parking more of the time, not take them out for simple errands.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, those are all relevant examples of pernicious knock-on effects of purchased car storage at one’s residence. I guess I have lived or visited long term in a lot of cities where families had one car that stayed garaged 5-6 days per week while everyone biked and took transit. That seemed to allow people the pleasures of leaving town, hiking far afield, and the ease of hauling groceries, etc, without the congestion, pollution, and carnage that comes with most car owners driving every day. Vancouver, Stockholm, Helsinki, Nuremberg, Munich are all places with high amounts of residential car storage but low rates of driving. Wishing we could emulate those places.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I have lived or visited long term in a lot of cities where
    families had one car that stayed garaged 5-6 days per week while
    everyone biked and took transit.

    This isn’t much better than driving the car daily. If you can actually get rid of the car, then that garage can be another bedroom or a man cave or an in-law apartment. Of course the problem is that even if you could logistically convert that garage to living space, the city (or your neighbor!) might not let you. And even if the city lets you, the end result won’t be as nice as if your building had been designed complete instead of with a garage that is then glommed on as living space.

    But how can you hike far afield or leave town if you don’t have that car that is garaged 5-6 days a week? The answer is simple even if it isn’t obvious to our fuzzy minds. Convert that garage to living space and your house is now worth $$$$ more. Yes, a garage is worth $$ but living space is worth $$$$.

    Stop owning a depreciating car, paying car insurance, registration, and maintainance, parking tickets. Then rent a car when you need one. Walk to the store and take a cab home. Hike in Wildcat Canyon (accessible via BART) instead of Cataract, which while quite nice isn’t $1000 nicer than Wildcat. Instead of driving to Tahoe, take the money you saved by not having a car in a garage, and fly to Vail.

    The financial difference is *enormous*. We live out in the sticks with only one car now and there are plenty of occasions where I either bike despite not being very thrilled about it or maybe I skip a trip. Situations where if a car was sitting right there I would just drive. But if you add it all up, every one of those instances is worth hundreds of dollars because that’s what the amortized cost of those trips would be if we had that second car.

  • mikesonn

    “I have lived or visited long term in a lot of cities where families had one car that stayed garaged 5-6 days per week while everyone biked and took transit.”

    May I introduce you to

  • Anonymous

    Well, Murph and Mike, I guess if a family or an individual has enough disposable income, it is up to them to decide how best to spend it — on one car, on two, or none. A personal car is a financial drain, yes, but allows one to make spur of the moment choices to go anywhere or restructure one’s activities, or respond to an elderly parent in the suburbs (who #*# refuses to move closer to adult children in the city!). Car ownership is both a need in some sense, but also a luxury in a city, and it becomes more possible with greater income. After many years spent mostly on a bike, I love the extended range and freedom that a personal car brings me. If I had to arrange a rental each time I wanted to take off, I suspect the time and point of sale charge would discourage me. How many people, even those with good amounts of income, take a cab to the beach? How many take a zipcar, alone, to Mount Tam for the day? The costs are upfront and hard to justify on most days. How many spend the extra time on public transit to get to those harder to reach places? You are both right that if one were acting entirely rationally in an economic sense, one would figure that all out and forgo private car ownership in the city. But I don’t think a lot of us pencil out the annual costs of each life-style. And I think putting a price on freedom of action is doable but not often done — kind of like pricing an incredible view from a city flat or the value of a 150 year old tree in one’s yard. The market, of course, prices everything. But it’s invisible to most of us in our day-to-day shuffle.

  • mikesonn

    Ah, the price of freedom. We all know it isn’t free.

    EDIT: zipcar isn’t hard to use, but it does show you costs on a per use basis (still tons of externalized costs though, but that’s just how we, as a society, treat the automobile). It is, overall, vastly less expensive on the aggregate than actual car ownership.

  • Anonymous

    You are right that most of car costs are still externalized. I am advocating for at least the parking portion to be paid up front and in full by everyone — by separating parking spaces from the rental or sale price of any unit. Same for “free” parking at private stores — it should all be metered. And all curb spaces should be metered, probably 24-7. Further, I’m for charging drivers by the mile, as well as possibly putting in urban congestion charges. If we finally did not externalize costs automobiles, we would get a system that looked more like Northern Europe. And what I’ve seen there is a whole lot of car ownership still. Just significantly less driving.

  • Anonymous

    You know, if Sr. Snellgrove had tied even one block of physically separated (dignified) bicycle infrastructure to 8 Washington, there’s a good chance I would have voted ‘yes’ on B/C.

    Can you imagine what a block of civilized infrastructure would do in front of Nema or Avalon@9th?

  • Bruce Halperin

    One of the headlines is wrong. The Caltrain grade separation in San mateo was NOT deferred – that was the one in Menlo Park.

  • I have friends whose car is garaged for weeks at a time, but they refuse to get rid of it. Why should I care?

    The hate on 8 Washington because of its parking spaces is attacking the symptom rather than the problem, which is terrible transit and insufficient bike infrastructure, as well as a pernicious one-person-one-car philosophy

    Maybe it’s because philosophy of development and urbanism grew up in DC, but I really just don’t care about the garage’s size. There are examples of developments with too-big garages that sit empty, and the developers shake their heads at the wasted money. My own apartment building sits adjacent to enough parking for every unit, but it is so disused churches use it to park their vans.

    Is our aim a livable, walkable city? Then do the things that make it so. If a developer wants to waste their money, that’s on their head. And it seems to me it’s better to have a few more super-rich their cars in the garage in San Francisco than actually using them by driving in from Ross.

  • mikesonn

    Yes, but that empty garage next to you could be housing or mixed-use. As it stands now, you have to walk/bike/transit further to get around your neighborhood because of the wasted space. And the developer won’t eat the cost of the extra parking, they aren’t in the business to lose money.

  • It’s worse: it’s a surface lot. I know that it will be developed in the next 10 years or so, but for the time being there it sits.

    Perhaps the best way to discourage extraneous parking is to disallow the construction of garage parking above grade. Any new development must build all garage parking underground.

    The developer does still eat the cost to some degree. If she can charge, say, $5k/mo. for a luxury one bedroom, she’ll want to pocket as much of that $5k as possible. If she needs to pay for that unit’s garage parking space, she can either reduce her monthly profit but keep the same customer base, or jack it up by another $500 and reduce her customer base.

    It’s a choice, and if she finds out that the space sits empty then it’ll have been a waste of money. At the very least, she could have still charged $5,500 and pocketed the extra $500.

  • Decoupling living and car-storage space is a good idea, but won’t really address the problem if the same amount of car-storage space is being built. Infrastructure is infrastructure, and usually outlives policies.

  • I don’t like that blog. Where’s Rob Gunderson’s take on it?