From above, San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood looks like it's thriving with Oracle Park on one end and Chase Center on the other.
This is one of the most popular city spots, but if we look closer living here comes with a caveat.
For the past four months a group of affordable housing residents have been trying to get the attention of city leaders, petitioning to modify the residential parking rules.
"We got 347 signatures and counting," said John Michael Santos, a Mission Bay resident who organized this effort.
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Parking meters that normally cost $1.25 jump to $8 during concerts or game days, pushing many residents to wait for hours in their cars to avoid parking tickets.
Cassie Siegel-Chichian is a single mom of three who works two jobs to make ends meet. She says she waited four hours in her car to avoid paying the heightened parking fee during one of the Oracle Park events.
Cassie moved to one of the affordable housing buildings in Mission Bay two years ago, and now owes close to $2,800 in parking tickets.
Luz Pena: "How many citations is that?"
Cassie Siegel-Chichian: "I have probably five or six... I live in the low-income base. I'm by myself. It's too much. The city is just ripping you off."
There is a GoFundMe to help Cassie and her children, as she fears losing her car over the money she owes the city. You can donate to her fundraiser here.
Evelyn Fuentes owes about $600 in parking tickets - Her constant thought every day.
"Am I free to go today? Or do I have a ticket? It's always about the tickets. I'm always afraid of the tickets," said Fuentes while holding her latest ticket, "Its $87 for an expired meter. I had just gotten here with my children."
All these issues go back to the building plans. SFMTA said Mission Bay was built with limited parking options on purpose, pointing to Public Transit Access.
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Cassie says public transit is not reliable for her needs.
"Living in the city with three separate ages you can't really take the bus everywhere. Like you could get by if they were close together, but the schools are spread out," said Cassie Siegel-Chichian.
These residents are urging the city to offer residential parking permits as one of the solutions.
"They might be able to create a program for the people that live in this area. Knowing that there are nine buildings that are low income... We have to find solutions together," said Garrett Dela Concepcion, a Mission Bay resident.
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In a statement SFMTA responded in part:
"Unfortunately, the Residential Parking Permit program will not solve these problems. It will just result in neighbors who garage their cars parking on street instead-- making parking harder for everyone."
As to Cassie Siegel-Chichian, she knows time is ticking.
"I'm always thinking about my car. One of these days I'm going to come out and there's going to be a boot on my car."
We reached out to San Francisco supervisor Matt Haney. His office sent a statement confirming they are aware of the parking problem in Mission Bay:
"Our office is aware of the parking situation for BMR residents in Mission Bay and we have been actively working with SFMTA and OCII on finding a solution. Right now, we are exploring a number of different options including creating a program whereby affordable housing residents could access windshield parking permit tags at little or no cost, designating a specific block for RPP parking, and brokering deals for the use of existing surface lots with the Port, UCSF, and private landowners."
You can read the the full SFMTA statement here:
"We understand the challenges these residents face owning a car in Mission Bay. Unfortunately, the Residential Parking Permit program will not solve these problems. It will just result in neighbors who garage their cars parking on street instead-- making parking harder for everyone. That's why Mission Bay was built with lots of mobility options for residents, workers, and visitors of the neighborhood.
Housing was built with limited parking in this transit-rich area because we know that too many cars in Mission Bay will undermine all the city's goals for a dense, walkable, and transit-oriented neighborhood. We will continue meeting with the neighbors, other city departments and the District Office to come up with possible solutions and alternatives.
Additional information on background:
- We can only extend existing Residential Parking Permit (RPP) areas where there is one nearby, which is not the case here, and we only create RPP areas where there is 1 mile of unregulated street frontage, which we also don't have here. Even if creating a new RPP area or extending an existing area were options, we legally cannot differentiate between affordable housing residents and residents of market-rate housing, meaning that thousands of Mission Bay residents regardless of their income and their access to parking in their own buildings would be able to park on highly sought-after public streets for $160/year (less than $0.50/day).
- Metered parking management is also the best way to ensure availability for employees of, residents of, and visitors to this neighborhood (and all of our dense neighborhoods) who need to drive.
- Transit service and shuttles were added in the area to provide access and encourage people not to use/bring a vehicle
- Mission Bay was a planned community. On-street parking is metered, per the master plan, to address the significant demand and to discourage residents from bringing cars. Careful consideration was given to the amount of off-street parking in each building