No new parking meter locations allowed in SF under $51 million purchase 

click to enlarge parking meters
  • Cindy Chew/2009 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • The SFMTA's $51 million purchase of new meters has been approved.
San Francisco plans to spend $51 million to buy up to 30,000 new parking meters, but on one condition: no meter installations allowed at new locations.

All parking meters in The City – save for the “smart” meters installed in 2010 under SFPark, which track when spaces are open – are due to be replaced.

Most of the meters are only about a decade old, but use technology that’s already outdated, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Meters that currently accept only coins will be replaced with credit-card friendly technology sometime next year.

In addition to the upgraded replacements, SFMTA had initially sought to buy an additional 10,000 meters from the San Diego-based company IPS Group.

But backlash from elected officials and city residents tired of new meter installations temporarily halted the approval of the meter purchase contract by the Board of Supervisors. Prior to Thanksgiving, supervisors inserted new contract language that they feel will prevent the SFMTA from using the new meters to convert free parking to metered parking.

Under the revised contract, approved Nov. 26, the SFMTA can buy only 5,000 additional meters on top of the replacement meters.

Of those, 2,800 are earmarked as replacements should other meters break, 1,200 will go to the Port of San Francisco to replace its coin-fed meters, and another 1,000 will be kept in a maintenance reserve.

“There will be no expansion of new meters,” said Supervisor John Avalos, who added that if the SFMTA wants to convert free parking to metered, it will require more public action at City Hall.

Earlier in the year, the SFMTA proposed installing thousands of new meters throughout The City, but was met with stiff opposition.

With the smaller number of new meters in the contract, “we certainly wouldn’t be able to do anything on the scale of what we originally had proposed,” SFMTA chief Ed Reiskin said.

Revenue from parking meters brings in about $53 million a year to the SFMTA, money that’s primarily supposed to fund Muni services. The new meters sacrifice revenue for motorist convenience, according to SFMTA, as licensing the software and running the new, high-tech meters’ wireless connections make them four times as expensive to run.

In recent years, the SFMTA has increased the number of metered spaces in San Francisco by 10 percent.

The City has installed 2,432 new parking meters since 2010, according to records.

Meter Feeder

Number of new parking meter installations in San Francisco:

2010: 1,628

2011: 430

2012: 207

2013: 167

SOURCE: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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