Parking enforcement department in SF has flaws, report says 

click to enlarge Roadblock: The agency hopes to cover part of its $17 million budget deficit through greater oversight of street parking scofflaws with 27 new officers. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Roadblock: The agency hopes to cover part of its $17 million budget deficit through greater oversight of street parking scofflaws with 27 new officers.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency wants to boost revenue through better parking enforcement, but it has hit a bump in the road because the agency is not equipped with enough officers to adequately cover The City, according to a report released this week by the Controller’s Office.

The report highlights other issues, such as the agency’s inability to be reimbursed for officers’ time during festivals and sporting events, low hiring levels and a lack of ongoing training. It also offered 39 recommendations to improve parking enforcement.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said the new budget cycle, which started July 1, will help the agency address what is in the audit.

Last month, SFMTA chief Ed Reiskin said increased efforts in parking enforcement are one way the agency could balance a $17 million deficit for this fiscal year.

“Everybody benefits, including motorists, when we enforce the laws that we have,” he said. “We’re not anticipating these revenues from more meters or extending meter hours — it’s enforcing the rules we have.”

To help, Rose said the SFMTA is focusing on hiring 27 new parking officers this year. Another roadblock to getting officers on the streets is that at any given time 40 out of 261 are on long-term leave, according to the report.

The SFMTA has had 327 parking enforcement officer positions budgeted since the 2009-10 fiscal year. On a typical weekday, the agency needs 175 officers to sufficiently cover The City, the report said. But an average of 154 people show up for work on weekdays.

The report also noted that the number of citations issued has steadily declined since the 2004-05 fiscal year. And collections for those citations have dropped following years of increases.

Rose said with programs such as SFpark, the electronic meter system that was debuted in early 2011, paying for parking and locating parking has become easier for drivers, resulting in a ticketing decline. The economy and an increase in fines over the past several years also have forced drivers to be more compliant.

One of the most glaring criticisms in the audit is that the SFMTA is only reimbursed for 27 percent of its time spent directing traffic for The City’s numerous street festivals. Rose said the agency will look at the way it collects employee costs based on the report, which could mean a change in the parking code.

Currently, reimbursement costs are typically not sought for nonprofits looking to close streets or many neighborhood festivals, Rose said. Larger events, such as the Nike Women’s Marathon or the upcoming Outside Lands music festival, do pay the SFMTA.

The inability to collect on some 15 festivals, plus Giants and 49er games, means a $65 an hour loss. In 2011, that amounted to some $709,000.

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