SFMTA explores demand-based parking meters 

Motorists parking in seven San Francisco neighborhoods could enjoy longer stays at meters, although the price will vary depending on demand for the spaces.

Under a pilot program being proposed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees parking policies in The City, paid parking at meters in the Fisherman’s Wharf, Marina, Civic Center, Mission, Embarcadero and downtown neighborhoods could be extended to four hours. The Fillmore district and the southern portion of The Embarcadero would have time restrictions abolished altogether. Currently, those neighborhoods have two-hour limits.

The study, which will be discussed at the SFMTA’s board of directors meeting today, is part of the SFpark project, a series of pilot programs aimed at improving parking availability and reducing congestion in The City.

Under the time-limit extension plan being considered by the SFMTA, parking sensors in the pavement would detect and record usage of each specific parking spot. From data collected by the sensors, the transit agency could determine demand for each spot and thus adjust pricing accordingly. If a parking space is seldom used, the cost would be cheaper than normal; if the space is in high demand, parking would be more expensive.

Depending on availability, the price could range from 25 cents an hour to $6 an hour. Currently, parking meters range from $1 an hour to $3.50 an hour.

If the plan is approved, the SFMTA will begin testing the extended time limits in late June and early July, with full installation of the program expected by August. The new demand-pricing program will start in the fall.

Of the seven neighborhoods under consideration for the pilot program, the Fillmore is the only one not already outfitted with SFpark equipment — spaces with sensors and meters that can handle multiple forms of payment.

The Fillmore was chosen as a neighborhood without any time-limit restrictions because it has the best distribution of off-street parking options.

Along with extending time limits on the meters, the SFMTA has proposed phasing out time limits in The City’s residential parking areas — spots monitored by signs, not meters. The SFMTA is recommending eliminating time limits at 4,000 residential parking spaces due in large part to enforcement difficulty.

These projects are the latest in a series of new parking policies being explored. A proposal to extend meter enforcement to Sundays in five different neighborhoods is tentatively scheduled to take effect in September, and the transit agency recently approved the addition of 1,000 new parking meters on city streets.



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Will Reisman

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