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Release date: Oct. 13, 2009

*** Press Release ***

SFMTA Releases Extended Parking Meter Hours Study

Agency Proposes Meter Operation when Parking Occupancy is High to Create Parking Availability and Increase Economic Vitality

San FranciscoThe San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) today released a study on extending parking meter hours of operation.  The study includes a proposal to extend meter hours in the evenings and on Sundays when and where warranted by high parking occupancy and when a significant number of businesses are open.  Extended meter hours would make it easier for business customers to find parking and would improve Muni’s speed and reliability by reducing congestion and illegal parking.

"This proposal for extended meter hours fits into a larger vision of the SFMTA’s overall transportation and parking policy goals and furthers San Francisco’s Transit First policy,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Executive Director/CEO of the SFMTA. “Parking meters create parking availability and they support economic vitality by helping business customers find parking when they need it.”

In May 2009, as part of budget discussions with the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor’s office, the SFMTA initiated a study to refine an April 2009 proposal to extend the hours of meter operation to 10 p.m. citywide Mondays through Saturdays and to operate parking meters from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The study was intended to better match when and where meter hours are extended with when and where parking is difficult to find in commercial areas.

This study includes a survey of other jurisdictions’ practices, a review of previous reports on parking in the City, and the collection of new data on parking occupancy levels, business hours of operation, stakeholder concerns, and residents’ opinions.

Using this study, the SFMTA has developed a proposal for extending metering hours when and where warranted, specifically:

  • Sundays: Establish metering hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. citywide (instead of 10 a.m.).
  • Mondays through Saturdays: Operate parking meters until 6 p.m., 9 p.m., or midnight when and where parking demand warrants (rather than 10 p.m. citywide):
    • Extend meter hours until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until midnight Friday through Saturday at 59 percent of metered spaces.
    • Extend meter hours until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at 23 percent of metered spaces (leaving Monday through Thursday until 6 p.m.).
    • Extend meter hours until midnight Monday through Saturday in areas where parking availability is low throughout the week, which is 17 percent of metered spaces.
    • Operate meters Monday through Saturday until 6 p.m. at one percent of metered spaces.
  • ·        Rates: Retain current rates (but use demand-responsive pricing in SFpark pilot areas).
  • ·        Time limits: Establish 4-hour parking time limits after 6 p.m. and all day on Sundays.

"We do not have a one-size-fits-all solution to San Francisco’s parking challenges,” Ford added.  “Our approach is based on extensive research and includes outreach to dozens of stakeholders, including businesses.  We know that this study will engender significant discussion and feedback from elected officials and the general public.  We welcome that discussion.  We believe that the excellent work that went into this study will elevate San Francisco’s always passionate debates about parking.”

This proposal is based on the following study findings:

  • Demand for on-street parking is high in the evenings and on Sundays, which results in parking occupancies that are often higher than 100 percent due to illegal parking. It is hardest to find available parking spaces after 6 p.m. and on Sundays, when parking at meters is currently free and unrestricted.
  • When San Francisco’s meters were first introduced in 1947, many businesses kept traditional hours, usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.
  • Today, many businesses are open late in the evening and all day on Sundays, which creates demand for parking at times when parking meters do not currently operate.
  • Many cities and towns around the country operate their parking meters Monday through Saturday until 10 p.m., midnight, or 2 a.m., as well as on Sundays.
  • Parking availability is the aspect of parking that San Francisco residents value most highly. Cost, though not unimportant, ranked fifth (out of nine) as a concern.
  • A plurality of residents supports metering in the evenings and on Sundays if meter revenues are used to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities and Muni service. Residents who never drive or drive rarely are more likely to support extending the hours than those who drive frequently.

The study also makes additional recommendations, based primarily on the feedback gathered in surveys and stakeholder interviews:

  • Improve the availability and marketing of SFMTA Parking Cards to make it easier for drivers to pay for parking and avoid parking tickets.
  • Offer residents who live adjacent to commercial corridors the option to extend Residential Parking Permit (RPP) enforcement hours to reduce potential parking “spillover” in their neighborhoods. Hours of RPP enforcement could either match or extend beyond metering hours.
  • Review metering hours at least every two years using 85 percent occupancy as the criteria and adjust metering hours as necessary to achieve availability goals.
  • Reduce hourly meter rates in SFMTA parking lots when and where parking occupancy does not exceed 60 percent and consider lengthening time limits at those lots to improve driver convenience.
  • Accelerate the ongoing implementation of two hour time limits in metered commercial areas.

While the SFMTA extended hours proposal is driven by policy goals such as making parking easier to find, it could also help fund Muni and pedestrian and bicycle improvements as the SFMTA sees state and local funding for operations disappear or decrease in the challenging economy.  The extended hours proposal would generate an additional $8.8 million per year in net revenue for the SFMTA after accounting for costs such as Parking Control Officers.  One-time implementations costs would be $2.5 million.

For the full study go to

The SFMTA currently manages approximately 24,000 on-street metered parking spaces, most of which are operated from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

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