New parking meter rates take effect

July 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Parking in San Francisco just got a little more confusing.

Starting Monday, the city's transportation authority is adjusting the price of parking meters, block by block, based on how often people use them. This could lead to bargains in some places and painful prices in others.

When you park on the streets in San Francisco, it seems like a quarter doesn't go very far.

"I think I lost 10 minutes of my meter time putting in all the coins," said one San Francisco driver.

Now, in some neighborhoods, it'll take even more coins to park, including a block in the Hayes Valley. It's part of the city's SF Park Pilot program that sets the price of each parking meter based on supply and demand.

"It will allow people to park a lot faster because there's gonna be a lot less double parking, a lot less looking around for where to park, and allow the city to be safer and less congested," said MTA spokesman Paul Rose.

The key to the whole program is little sensors embedded in the pavement under each parking space. The sensor talks to a meter to keep track of when the parking space is in use and when it is empty.

The city will collect data each month and use a formula to decide if the price of parking on that block goes up or down. The hourly rate can rise by as much as a quarter each month or drop by up to 50 cents.

In the first round of adjustments, most meters in the Marina and Pacific Heights neighborhoods will go up in price, but the meters at Fisherman's Wharf will actually get cheaper in the morning and more expensive in the afternoon.

Prices near AT&T Park will drop and in the Mission they'll stay the same during the week but go up on the weekends.

Store owner Cindy Spade worries the pricing scheme will give customers just one more reason to shop somewhere else.

"It's hard enough to find parking, and then you raise prices on top of it?" Spade said. "I don't know, it just seems out of control."

But driver Chrissy Doering says the price difference doesn't matter since the new meters take credit cards.

"If I could use my card, I'd park wherever I could park, because you don't really think about if you don't have change," Doering said.


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