City looks to meters for cash 

The number of The City’s innovative new parking meters, which charge motorists more per hour for spaces in high demand, could triple during the next year.

The effort would make the technology account for more than half of San Francisco’s paid-parking spots and add 5,000 meters to city streets.

Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency debuted its SF Park program, which features meters that, along with charging up to $6 an hour, accept more forms of payments, contain sensory equipment that detects occupancy rates and allow motorists to stay for extended periods of time.

The program is touted by the SFMTA as a way to reduce congestion by giving motorists more information and options regarding parking. When SF Park was unveiled last week in Hayes Valley, Mayor Gavin Newsom said San Francisco was the only city in the world featuring the technology.

Now present in 190 spaces, SF Park was supposed to replace 5,100 existing meters, or roughly 20 percent of The City’s current total of 25,000, during the next three months. However, the SFMTA is looking to expand the program to 16,200 meters with the help of a $22 million loan from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s lead planning and transportation funding body.

The $22 million will help the SFMTA pay for the replacement of an additional 4,000 meters within neighborhoods already designated for the SF Park program, meaning Hayes Valley, Civic Center, Fisherman’s Wharf, South of Market, the Mission and the Financial District will feature a total of 9,000 SF Park meters.

The funding also would cover the addition of 5,000 new SF Park meters to spaces that are currently free, bringing The City’s total to 30,000 paid-parking spaces. And it would upgrade 1,700 existing meters outside the SF Park-designated pilot areas.

The SFMTA is scheduled to pay back the $22 million loan from the commission during the next five years using revenue generated from the meters. Once the loan is cleared, the cash-strapped SFMTA, which has consistently faced daunting budget deficits, will net $6.6 million a year from SF Park meters.

Under SF Park, hourly meter rates could range from 25 cents to $6 depending on demand for each spot. Currently, meters range from $2 an hour to $3.50.

Carlos Rosales, a Daly City resident who works in San Francisco for DataSafe, a file-storage firm, drives a company van around The City all day as part of his job. Rosales said the SF Park meters can make it easier to park because they accept various forms of payment, but he had concerns about the possibility of paying up to $6 an hour.

“It seems like every day the cost of parking in San Francisco gets more expensive,” Rosales said.

Today, the SFMTA’s board of directors is expected to approve the loan agreement, which has already been authorized by the commission.

Parking in The City

5,100: Parking meters within SF Park pilot area set to be replaced during next two to three months
4,000: Additional parking meters set to be replaced with $22 million from MTC
5,000: New parking meters added to The City under SF Park program
1,700: Meters to be replaced by SF Park meters outside designated neighborhoods
16,200: Total SF Park meters in San Francisco following changes
30,000: Total parking meters in San Francisco following changes
$6.6 million: Revenue generated for SFMTA following loan repayment
25 cents: Cheapest hourly meter rate under SF Park
$6: Costliest hourly rate under SF Park

Source: SFMTA

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Will Reisman

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