Variable parking meter rates ready to take effect in San Francisco 

Local motorists had better keep a close eye on where they park. Hourly meter rates in San Francisco will soon range from $1.25 to $4 depending on the neighborhood and time of day.

The new meter prices will go into effect later this month and are part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s SFpark program, which aims to reduce traffic congestion by raising or lowering hourly parking meter rates based on demand.

This month’s adjustment will mark the second rate change at the 8,000 parking meters that constitute the SFpark program area.

Areas where demand for parking is strong — such as the Financial District — will see meter rates increase by 25 cents to $4 an hour. In areas and times where parking occupancy rates are low — such as weekend days near the Civic Center — meters will drop 50 cents to $1.25 an hour.

Under a formula devised by the SFMTA, meter rates will not increase by more than 25 cents an hour or decrease by more than 50 cents an hour following each adjustment period. The latest adjustments were evenly split — 35 percent of the rates decreased, 33 percent stayed the same, and 32 percent rose.

“Rate adjustments such as these will help even out parking demand and reduce double-parking and circling, making our streets less congested and allowing Muni to be more reliable,” SFMTA director Ed Reiskin said in a statement.

Motorists and businesses — who are supposed to benefit from the increased turnover — say the jury is still out on the efficacy of SFpark.

Paola Guglielmoni, who was parking on the 400 block of Hayes Street, where meter rates will increase for the second time later this month, said it will take more than a 25-cent price hike to change her driving behavior.

“I really don’t pay that much attention to the hourly rate of the meters, especially at these new ones that take cards,” Guglielmoni said.

Lindsay Hertz, who works at Mission Cheese, a coffee shop on Valencia Street, where meter rates are also set to increase for the second time, said she didn’t notice a major difference in traffic flow from the last 25-cent hike.

“Finding a spot still seems pretty tough around here,” Hertz said.

SFpark manager Jay Primus said the agency will release a detailed report about the new meters next year. That document will include reports on transit speed, congestion levels and occupancy rates in areas with the new meters. Before then, he said, it is too early to determine the effectiveness of the program.

In November, the SFMTA will release a report about how the new rates are affecting parking meter and citation revenue for the agency.

Before they were adjusted, meters in the SFpark areas ranged from $2 an hour to $3.50 an hour. Those rates remain the same at the 21,800 meters that aren’t part of the SFpark program.

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Will Reisman

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