Long-promised parking crackdown set to begin in San Francisco 

Five months after the plan was originally unveiled, a promised crackdown on parking enforcement has finally begun, although the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency insists the project isn’t intended to milk motorists for cash.

In January, the SFMTA, which manages parking in The City, revealed a redeployment plan for its parking control officers, a strategy included in the agency’s plan to make up a budget shortfall of $21.2 million.

But the SFMTA never set the plan in motion until now, and the redeployment is now being touted as a way to move traffic more smoothly and make parking control officers more efficient, agency spokesman Paul Rose said. However, motorists parking on the sidewalk — a no-no in San Francisco — will get extra attention from the officers.

The new enforcement strategy is designed to deploy parking control officers when motorists tend to park the most. The new deployment will feature extra officers during the late evenings, and also on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays — formerly days when staffing was low.

Parking citation revenue projections are down by $7 million this fiscal year, a decline that the SFMTA attributes to more options for motorists and higher fines for parking infractions. For instance, the agency’s new SFpark program allows motorists to park for longer, and with more payment options, which is expected to increase meter revenue but reduce ticket revenue.

Even in the last two years, parking habits have changed significantly in San Francisco.

While about 75 percent of parking meters were occupied by motorists in 2009, that number is now 72 percent, according to a new agency study. Meanwhile, nonpayment at meters has fallen from 22 percent in 2009 to 14.7 percent in this year, the study said.

The numbers are even more dramatic compared to 1995, when meters were occupied 87 percent of the time, and noncompliance rates were 37 percent.

Since January, the SFMTA’s budget deficit has shrunk to $17.8 million, but that total still must be reconciled by June 30, the end of this fiscal year. Rose said the agency can make up that shortfall by cutting down on overtime, delaying unnecessary work contracts and reducing rent by maximizing its work spaces.


SF parking meter usage

Nonpayment has declined, as has occupancy.

  2011 2009 2006 1995
% occupancy 72.3 75.1 76.7 86.8
% noncompliance 14.7  
22.0 28.9 37.0
% overtime 1.4 2.4 6.3 8.3

Source: SFMTA

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Will Reisman

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