New proposal may increase SF parking fees

October 20, 2009 7:37:05 PM PDT
The city of San Francisco is walking down the same thorny path that Oakland tried to navigate recently. Officials want to squeeze more money out of people who park on city streets. And, just like in Oakland, business owners think it is a mistake.

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San Francisco has come a long way since it installed its first parking meter August 21, 1947. Today there are more than 24,000 meters; most run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Now the Municipal Transportation Agency is considering extending their hours of operation long into the night.

"Parking meters create availability, they support economic vitality by helping businesses customers find parking when they need it, they also help speed up Muni by reducing congestion and delays," MYA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said.

But the owner of Miller's East Coast Deli on busy Polk Street is not buying it.

"Transit first is one thing, but this is not about transit first, this is about getting more money into the city coffers," Robbie Morgenstein said.

$9 million a year is how much the cash strapped agency would generate from the extra change.

The MTA is talking about making parkers pay as late as 9 p.m. or even midnight Monday through Saturday in some commercial neighborhoods, like North Beach and the Castro.

"I guess nobody would go out anymore; too bad for those venues that people go to," driver Alona Catamco said.

And meters, which are currently free on Sundays, would need to be fed from 11a.m. to 6 p.m. Melissa Marshall thinks that will hurt her pet shop on Union Street.

"Sunday's the one day that everybody's relaxed and can walk around the store," Marshall said.

"Probably a bad idea; I'm from Oakland, they should look at what happened over there," driver Robert Burke said.

In Oakland there was a citizen rebellion that forced officials to roll back their extended meter program three months after it was implemented.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says he is opposed to the proposed changes, saying that with the bad economy, now is not the time.

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