City, DMV may open parking lot to residents 

San Franciscans living near the Golden Gate Park Panhandle have been feeling a parking pinch since the neighborhood began booming a few years ago.

Under a proposal by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Mayor Gavin Newsom, however, the area’s residents may soon have a designated place to park their wheels in the evenings — the state Department of Motor Vehicles lot on the corner of Broderick and Fell streets.

The lot, which is about one city block in size, typically sits vacant when the DMV is closed. That could soon change, as a movement is under way to open the lot to residents and merchants in the area.

"This is long overdue," Mirkarimi said Thursday. "As good neighborhood partners, I would expect the DMV to provide that size of real estate for the residents’ benefit."

The proposal, which is part of The City’s Divisadero Corridor Improvement Project, would allow residents and merchants to apply for paid hourly and overnight parking permits. A limited number of monthly parking passes would also be available.

Mirkarimi said the Divisadero Touchless Carwash at Divisadero and Oak streets is also looking into opening its lot to residents during off-hours. He said both developments are part of a larger plan to create more parking without constructing more buildings.

Leela Gill, president of the North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association, said the DMV community-garage project has been in the works for more than five years.

Gill said new restaurants and shops have come into the neighborhood within the last few years, and as a result, the parking spaces for residents are disappearing. Restaurants such as Nopa and Poleng Lounge, for example, which have been designated as top-tier establishments by The City’s food critics, have recently come into the area.

"It’s becoming more of a problem as our neighborhood evolves and Divisadero develops," Gill said. "There is all this traffic coming into the neighborhood when people come home from work and school and other people come in to go to the clubs and restaurants and shops."

Lisa Zahner, manager of the Divisadero Corridor in the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, cautioned residents against celebratingtoo early.

Before the lot is opened, the proposal has to be approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission, Parking and Traffic Commission and the DMV. Zahner hopes to have the lot opened by the end of this year.

"We’re still too early on in the game to count our chickens," she said. "We’re optimistic about it, but there’s a lot that needs to happen."

arocha@examiner.com

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