The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has, for the first time since the SFpark pilot program was launched in several city neighborhoods this April, announced tweaks to parking meter rates. Those tweaks were fashioned in response to the parking occupancy data being collected, with the ongoing goal of finding the right price that maintains one vacant parking spot per block. The rates will continue to be adjusted, but only gradually — with control over fluctuations in both time (rates will be adjusted about once every month) and magnitude (25-cent increase, and 25- or 50-cent decrease at one time).
As one would expect in a market price experiment — as opposed to an exclusive revenue generation measure, or “stealth tax,” as it has been dubbed by the literati that haunt the SFGate comments section — the SFMTA both increased and decreased different meter rates depending on the level of demand for those parking spots. In fact, for this first round of adjustments, most parking meters in pilot neighborhoods will be no more expensive to use than before. Rates will decrease at 32 percent of meters within the pilot area, stay the same at 37 percent of meters, and increase at only 31 percent of meters.
Responding to the data (available as both PDF maps and an Excel spreadsheet) creates a fine-grained result in which one block may have higher rates, while a nearby or even directly adjacent block has lower rates. Not surprisingly, there is a need to boost the price at many times of day on popular and walkable commercial segments (e.g. Hayes Street between Franklin and Laguna, Valencia Street, Fillmore Street between Bush and Jackson, Chestnut Street west of Fillmore, and the Financial District/Jackson Square). In contrast, prices will stay the same or decrease on weekdays for high-volume traffic arteries like Geary Blvd., Van Ness, and Lombard, as well as significant portions of the Wharf, Civic Center, and South of Market pilot areas. Although the SFMTA could have decreased rates this month by as much as 50 cents under its adopted policy, the data collected so far suggests that in three cases (Fillmore, Mission, and Marina), the rate should not be lowered more than 25 cents at any meter throughout the time period in which the meters operate, while in other pilot areas a 50-cent decrease is sometimes warranted.