Sunday parking meter enforcement finally became a reality in The City, and once again religious leaders came out to blast the plan that was first proposed in 2010.
Starting Jan. 1, on-street parking meters will be enforced from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. The change is expected to generate $1.9 million annually for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The move was part of a series of measures passed by the SFMTA’s board of directors Tuesday to help balance a two-year projected shortfall of $56.2 million.
Ed Reiskin, director of the SFMTA, has said enforcing parking meters on Sundays would free up spots in front of businesses, reduce traffic congestion and speed up Muni service. He said the measure would update antiquated parking policies, many of which were established in the 1950s when businesses were closed Sundays.
But local churches and other places of worship have repeatedly denounced the plan, saying it attacks people of faith. Dozens of church leaders appeared at Tuesday’s meeting.
The Rev. Karen Oliveto of the Tenderloin’s Glide Memorial Church said Sunday meter enforcement would cause “chaos” since parishioners would be forced to leave in the middle of service to attend to their vehicles.
“It will be devastating if we have to worry about time constraints,” said Oliveto. “The entire essence of Glide would be undermined.”
Others questioned the fairness of the plan.
The Rev. A.L. Perkins of Tabernacle of Faith Missionary Baptist Church in the Mission district said there are meters in front of his church, but not at the church one block away.
Third Baptist Church Rev. Amos Brown even called the measure sexist, claiming that 60 to 70 percent of churchgoers are women. His church is in Alamo Square.
Reiskin said the meters would be able to take payments of up to four hours, meaning churchgoers would not have to leave services. Motorists also will be able to prepay if they arrive before noon.
Joel Ramos, an SFMTA board member, noted that Muni service isn’t free on Sundays in defending the meter plan.
“I’m thinking about the folks that don’t get free transit on Sundays like we get free parking,” said Ramos, who supported the measure. “We have to start thinking about a different way to use the streets, and in a way that doesn’t make transit service more expensive than driving.”
Along with Sunday enforcement, the budget includes adding 500 to 1,000 meters on city streets, and increasing parking citations by $5 in a move to offset increased courthouse fees imposed by the state.
For the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, the SFMTA’s annual operating budget will be $821 million. The following fiscal year, it will be $840.5 million. At the insistence of Reiskin, $46 million was earmarked over the next two years for increased investment in maintenance programs to improve system reliability and efficiency.
The SFMTA locked up its spending plan for the next two fiscal years:
$56.2M Two-year budget deficit transit agency faced
$821M Approved operating budget for 2013 fiscal year
$840.5M Approved operating budget for 2014 fiscal year