Phil Matier’s Shameless Bid to Drum Up Resentment About Parking

Phil Matier is apparently perturbed at the “rapid” pace at which SF plans to re-purpose less than 0.5 percent of its curbside parking spaces.

In keeping with his habitual windshield perspective, Matier used both his SF Chronicle column and air time on KCBS radio today to spin a narrative about motorists getting “a giant middle finger” because a sliver of curb space is being used for bike lanes, transit lanes, wider sidewalks, and parklets instead of car storage.

Phil Matier. Photo: KCBS

The outlook for motorists is dire, according to the lede of today’s Chronicle column, which Matier writes with Andrew Ross:

From the Financial District to the Fillmore, parking spaces along San Francisco’s streets are vanishing at unprecedented numbers — and for those who drive, the situation is only going to get worse.

Okay then, let’s do the math. The 1,600 parking spaces “scheduled for removal” make up an exceedingly small share — less than 0.5 percent — of the 280,000 on-street parking spaces that occupy the vast majority of the city’s curb space.

The areas poised to get safer streets and better transit — or “the hardest hit parts” of the city, as Matier said on KCBS this morning — are South of Market, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Financial District. “Last year, 180 spaces were taken out of service in the downtown area alone,” went today’s column.

Census data shows that the downtown and Civic Center area has as many as 35,000 publicly-accessible parking spaces per square mile — the highest density in the city. Matier and Ross also neglected to mention that none of these figures include SF’s uncounted private parking spaces, estimated to be as many as 800,000.

On KCBS radio this morning, Matier told the hosts they only had to look out their window to see a recently daylighted intersection — where parking spaces were removed near street corners to make people more visible when they enter the crosswalk.

Leave it to Matier to make this simple safety measure sound more like a kidnapping:

They’ve taken out two spaces within the last couple of weeks. They come, they put a bag over it, it’s kind of quiet for a while, then they come and they cut the meter off and then they paint the zone red.

Watch out, motorists: safer crossings, bus rapid transit, and bike lanes are out to abduct your parking when you aren’t looking.

“The idea is to get you out of your car and get you onto mass transportation,” continued an exasperated Matier. “The problem is, if you’re in your car, you can’t get out of it because you’re circling around and around looking for parking!”

But considering that car traffic in San Francisco appears to be in decline, if Matier insists on driving everywhere, maybe he should be thankful that city policy is taking potential competitors for his precious parking spots off the road.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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