Did “Restore Balance” Petitioners Lie About Sunday Meters for Signatures?

Two people said they’ve seen “Restore Balance” petitioners in Safeway parking lots claiming Sunday parking meters are still in effect. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Petitioners for the “Restore Transportation Balance” initiative aimed at enshrining cars-first policies apparently made false claims about the state of Sunday parking metering to collect signatures.

Backers of the Republican-crafted ballot measure turned in 17,500 petition signatures — well over the 9,000 required for it to qualify for the ballot this November, the SF Chronicle reported yesterday. But according to two separate reports from Streetsblog readers, petition collectors seen outside Safeway stores made false claims that the mayor had not repealed Sunday parking metering, and that the ballot measure would “restore” free parking.

A flyer [PDF] posted on the initiative’s website states that the measure calls for “restoring free parking at meters on Sundays, holidays and evenings.” Parking is currently free during all of those times, and there is no serious proposal from the SFMTA to change that.

According to a “Restore Balance” petition flyer, the intitative calls for “restoring free parking on Sundays,” even though it’s already free. Image: Restore Transportation Balance

Patrick Carroll, one of the readers who was reportedly approached by a petitioner in a Safeway parking lot, said he told the petitioner that he’d understood that the SFMTA Board of Directors had already repealed Sunday parking metering at the behest of Mayor Ed Lee. The petitioner then claimed that “the mayor had backed off.”

The SFMTA Board did, in fact, vote to repeal Sunday parking metering in April, pressured by the mayor, who made unfounded claims about a popular revolt against the policy.

In a city where the vast majority of street space is dedicated to moving and storing private automobiles for free, the initiative’s proponents seem to be inventing a struggle in their bid to “restore balance” for motorists. Last month, right-wing author Bill Bowen also penned a Chronicle op-ed pushing the measure that was rife with misinformation.

As Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich told the Bay Guardian today, “The idea that anyone who walks or cycles or takes public transit in San Francisco would agree that these are privileged modes of transportation is rather absurd.” The coalition is “co-opting the notion of balance to defend their privilege. They’re saying the city should continue to privilege drivers.”

  • sebra leaves

    Details on this part of the initiative “restoring free parking at meters on Sundays, holidays and evenings”:

    According to the SFMTA web site, and recent reports, ALL Sunday meters are not free. Parking at meters is NOT free on holidays, except for Christmas and New Years. As for evenings, that depends on your definition of evening. More people think it starts around 6 PM, but not all meter enforcement stops at 6 PM in ALL our neighborhoods. Some areas limited parking and meters run from as early as 7 AM to 11 PM. The lack of consistency and mass confusion has angered a lot of people. A few Supervisors have complained about it as well. In fact, we understand that three of the five contenders running for Supervisor in D-10 signed the petition. Good luck stopping the backlash in November.

  • @sebra leaves – Condolences for your massive confusion.

  • Justin

    It’s clear you obviously support this delusional ballot measure

  • “ALL Sunday meters are not free.”

    Nor have they been for quite a while. The Port of SF which controls many of the parking places along the port has long required payment for their meters on Sunday. Are you proposing that this fight is now about ‘restoring’ free parking on Sunday to the entire city and county of San Francisco?

    “The lack of consistency and mass confusion has angered a lot of people.”

    But no one was particularly interested in doing anything about it–now that Sunday Metering has brought out the torches there seems to be a movement to continue that momentum, crafting demands-on-the-run, and using ‘well-crafted messages’ with little enough of the truth to them to push paying for parking much further back than it was a couple years ago… One wonders why the argument cannot stand on its own merit cloaked in the full truth.

    We’re gonna park here like its 1899?

  • BBnet3000

    Isnt this why theres either a sign or times/rates written on the meter? Its not rocket science. Read, feed it for the time, and move on.

  • vcs

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Lee’s compromise was to leave the meters posted for Sundays, only not enforce them.

  • vcs

    Wow this is the first time in history that the Safeway petition guy ever tried to mislead me!

  • Yeah, as far as petition collection misrepresentations go, this is pretty typical. That’s a low bar, but still!

  • gneiss

    The SFMTA has no authority to set parking rates at meters that are owned by the Port of San Francisco. That’s why there are meters along the Embarcadero that have Sunday metering, and the SFMTA is simply doing you a service by pointing out that is the case on their website.

    The authority of the Port over those meters is set in the city charter and the 1994 Burton Act. You would be hard pressed to find any politician who would try and work to overturn those measures, as the revenue from the meters is used by the Port for their operations. Loss of that revenue would somehow need to be made up, and that would mean *all* city taxpayers would end up footing the bill rather than people who park their cars on the Embarcadero on Sundays.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    MASS CONFUSION!!!!!!!111111111ONE

  • sebra leaves

    Yeah, you can try to read and follow the signs on the street while you look for parking and after you park you can try to decipher the signs on the meters, which may or may not be visible or informative. Short people and people with bad eyesight cannot read the signs. If it is raining or too sunny or dark you can’t read the signs.

  • timsmith

    That is wrong. Meters will not be operating.

  • Chris J.

    The idea that parking a private car should be free while you have to pay to ride public transit seems pretty messed up.

  • Ed Lee’s Illegally Parked Volt

    Does the SFMTA not include brail instructions for drivers with eyesight too bad to read?

    Shame on you SFMTA! Parking should be both free and accessible!

  • Ed Lee’s Illegally Parked Volt

    The compromise was that metering and enforcement would end on Sundays so car owners would support a ballot measure restoring the VLF.

    Sebra is just complaining because she got everything she wants.

  • coolbabybookworm

    So people who can’t read a sign because their eyesight is so bad should be allowed to drive? How does rain or sun stop someone from being able to read a sign? That sounds like apocalyptic weather and you’d be better off staying inside on those kinds of days.

  • coolbabybookworm

    That was Reiskins proposed compromise, and it was rejected by the SFMTA board.

  • Rain__or__Shine

    I transform into a tourist every time a petition is shoved into my face. “Sorry, not a San Fran resident!”

    (Calling it San Fran makes your claim more convincing)

  • murphstahoe

    Do you know how fast you were going?

    No – I can’t read my speedometer.

  • neutral_corner

    Taking the complaint about “confusion” at the meters at face value, all a driver has to do is inspect the meter to determine whether or not he or she is obligated to feed it. The expectation that someone should know even before arriving at the parking space is a little pie-in-the-sky. Drivers should understand the concept of accountability — and illegible meters can be reported to SFMTA and their summonses, appealed.

  • neutral_corner

    People with bad eyesight shouldn’t be driving, no?

  • vcs

    Thanx for straightening that out.

  • sebra leaves

    The plastic on the smart meters is hard to see through am read for people with good eyesight. Many of the multiple meters are poorly lit at night. You don’t know how much the meters cost or what the time limits are until you park and get out to look.

  • sebra leaves

    You guys can’t even agree on what is happening.

  • sebra leaves

    Should people with poor eyesight be cycling?

  • Prinzrob

    At some stage, obviously not, but I know legally blind people who can’t drive but can get around just fine on a bike. It’s all about awareness and reaction time, and rolling around at 25mph in an enclosed car where one’s senses are already dampened.

    Regardless, the simplest solution your argument would be improving the signage on the meters. I think we can all get behind that.

  • coolbabybookworm

    All the more reason to expand SFpark so you can check price information and availability before you start driving. The only problems I’ve had looking for car parking in this town have been trying to find a spot in an area where parking is free and therefore all the spaces were occupied. Reading meters has never been a problem for me and I don’t even have perfect vision.

  • SF4Life

    Unless that person is driving without a license every driver has to pass an eye exam or wear corrective lenses. @sebra leaves is correct that many meters are hard to read especially in the dark.

    For those who don’t drive you wouldn’t know the level of difficulty of reading a meter in the dark unless you tried. Suggesting a person who cannot easily read a meter has bad eyesight is very misleading.

  • gneiss

    Your argument about signage at the meters is a red herring. All of these complaints are perfectly fixable, from making the signage better to addressing concerns about reading the pricing on the meter screen. And to think that this is just a plot by SFMTA to make your life harder is a conspiracy fantasy on the same order as silent black government helicopters coming to take your children away.

    However, the real reason why you don’t want meters is based on your mistaken belief that somehow the city is ‘soaking’ people who drive cars in favor of those who get around by other means, and that is simply hogwash. Almost all the money spent on upkeep and maintenance of our streets comes from property and sales taxes. To posit that car drivers pay anything close to ‘their share’ for maintenance is malarkey, particularly when you factor in cost of death, injury, and lung diseases that are directly caused by having so many motor vehicles running on our streets.

    For God sakes Sebra – please educate yourself. Read something for a change rather than simply spout off about all the indignities and injustice that you experience as a poor, victimized, car driver in a dense urban space. Realize that there are over 837,000 other San Franciscans trying to get places on the same road network you use, and then you might have a better sense of what direction the city should take to manage it’s roads.

  • murphstahoe

    Nobody made that argument. YOU made the argument that they should be driving.

  • neutral_corner

    No they shouldn’t.

    Again, what does that have to do with your inability to read the parking meter?

  • neutral_corner

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse for violating it.


SFMTA Board Repeals Sunday Parking Meters

The SFMTA Board of Directors today caved to pressure from Mayor Ed Lee by removing Sunday parking meters, a move folded into its approval of the agency’s two-year budget. The Sunday meter reversal was supported by all but one of the SFMTA’s board members, who are appointed by the mayor. Board member Cristina Rubke said she […]