Sunday parking meters may drive away sales 

click to enlarge Business impact: Matt Rogers, owner of Papenhausen Hardware on West Portal Avenue, says customers rely on free parking. - JOSEPH SCHELL/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Joseph Schell/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • Business impact: Matt Rogers, owner of Papenhausen Hardware on West Portal Avenue, says customers rely on free parking.

Taxing residents with another parking fee or enforcing transit-first policies. Driving shoppers to out-of-town malls or opening up parking spots in front of local businesses. Updating antiquated traffic rules or overregulating automobile usage.

The contentious proposal to charge at parking meters on Sundays has many supporters and detractors, and nowhere is that dichotomy clearer than in the West Portal neighborhood.

Located in the southern portion of The City, the small cluster of shops and businesses in West Portal is not far from the megamalls of 19th Avenue and Daly City. Many local merchants fret that enforcing meters on Sundays will be the last straw for shoppers already sick of looking for parking in the neighborhood.

But West Portal is also located next to a busy Muni station, where many travelers park their cars for free Sunday while they take public transit to other stops in The City. New meters could deter that practice and create turnover in front of local shops.

“I think most merchants are tentatively in support of the Sunday meters, but shoppers don’t want to give up their free spots,” said Matt Rogers, owner of Papenhausen Hardware on West Portal Avenue. “So I don’t think you’re going to get many businesses making big proclamations for the plan.”

Al Khalidi, owner of Eezy Freezy, a market on West Portal Avenue, called Sunday meter enforcement “the most pathetic decision ever made by The City.”

But he concedes that many motorists park their cars all day in front of his business on Sundays. He thinks The City could enforce time limits on the streets by chalking tires instead of charging for meters. An hour of parking in the
neighborhood costs $2.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, whose district includes West Portal, admits that he has taken advantage of the free Sunday parking to take Muni to games at AT&T Park or visit the Ferry Building. He said the neighborhood and residents should be ready for Sunday enforcement.

Some residents are still skeptical, though. Neighbor Avrum Shepard said parking demand isn’t strong enough to require metered parking on Sundays. He said the new policy would push shoppers out to the Serramonte and Stonestown malls.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages parking in The City, is facing a two-year budget shortfall of $53.2 million. The Sunday parking meter enforcement, which would generate $2.5 million annually, is part of the agency’s budget plan to make up that deficit.

Ed Reiskin, director of the SFMTA, said The City’s parking meter policies were established in the 1950s, when many stores were closed Sundays. With more than 75 percent of area businesses now open on that day, he said there is no justification to continue free parking.

The SFMTA board of directors is scheduled to vote on the parking meter proposal, and the rest of its two-year budget plan, Tuesday.


Details of SFMTA’s proposed Sunday parking meter enforcement:

- Meters will be enforced from noon to 6 p.m.
- Motorists will be able to prepay for up to four hours at the meter
- San Francisco has roughly 29,000 parking meters
- SFMTA will generate $2.5 million in extra revenue from the plan
- 75 percent of San Francisco businesses are currently open Sundays

Source: SFMTA

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Will Reisman

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