With the change scheduled to start this weekend, local businesses are begrudgingly gearing up for Sunday parking meter enforcement in The City.
Approved last April, the program is expected to bring in $1.9 million a year for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees city transportation policies. The agency has said the meter enforcement, from noon to 6 p.m., will update antiquated parking rules, increase turnover in front of businesses and better manage traffic along commercial corridors.
However, several small-business groups are skeptical about the agency’s intent. Jesse Fink, president of the Clement Street Merchants Association in the Richmond district, said Sunday meter enforcement is simply a “fundraiser” for city coffers.
“This isn’t going to help small businesses at all,” said Fink, who owns Toy Boat, an ice cream and toy store. “This is another reason why shoppers will go to big malls like Serramonte instead of local business districts.”
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce had indicated support for the program, agreeing with the transit agency that many businesses are open Sundays and thus need parking turnover in front of their establishments.
Yet Patricia Vaughey, president of Marina-Cow Hollow Neighbors and Merchants, said only a small minority of local business groups approve of Sunday meters. She said the Transportation Agency’s parking policies drive middle-class retailers out of The City.
“We really haven’t had a major problem with people parking their cars all day on Union Street,” Vaughey said. “The City is trying to fix a problem that just isn’t there, and the residents and the merchants are going to pay the price as a result.”
Chris Moreno, a member of the South Beach-Mission Bay Business Association, said he would like clear evidence that revenue raised will benefit local communities.
“The City has to be accountable to where this money is going,” said Moreno, who owns Laundry Locker. “If this is going to raise $2 million a year, the money should be spent in the neighborhoods with parking meters.”
Motorists are being given a few weeks to adjust to the program. For the first three Sundays of the year, no tickets will be issued at expired meters. The Transportation Agency also will allow drivers to park for up to four hours at one spot, with the option of prepaying for the meter before enforcement hours begin.