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DPT Training Manual (download)
Q: What is the SFMTA? Who does the SFMTA report to?
A: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is governed by the seven-member SFMTA Board of Directors which is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Board of Supervisors. The SFMTA reports directly to the Mayor. As it stands now, the Board of Supervisors has no authority over the SFMTA, although, a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors can overturn a SFMTA decision regarding parking meters within 60 days.
Q: What is SFPark? How is SFPark funded?
A: SFPark is a project of the SFMTA to bring demand-responsive “smart meters” to San Francisco, along with in-ground sensors and smart phone apps. San Francisco is the first city in the country to adopt this full package of measures. SFPark’s pilot program was funded, in part, through a $19.8 million grant from the Department of Transportation. The pilot program brought the smart meters to eight neighborhoods. As of March 2012, that money has been spent. SFMTA is now expanding installation of the meters, and the program is being funded by a budget deficit.
Q: Is SFPark just a money grab by the city?
A: SFMTA says no; it presents SFPark as a way to reduce congestion by reducing the amount of time drivers have to spend circling to look for a space. But it depends on whom you talk to—and when you talked to them.
SFMTA CFO Sonali Bose 1/9/12 – “rather than see parking as a way to balance budgets, the SFMTA is recognizing parking as a critical part of the transportation system”
SFMTA Board Member Joel Ramos 2/7/12 – “From the way that I see it, we are looking at a budget deficit and if we don’t get this hole addressed it’s going to translate to service cuts and that translates into attacks on our most vulnerable population”
Q: Since SFPark is a pilot project, how will we know if the project is a success or not?
A: So far there have been no success criteria given, despite repeated requests. An independent evaluation will be done by the Department of Transportation.
Q: Will SFPark be expanded to the entire city?
A: Yes. The city has adopted a Transit First policy. This policy was adopted to promote the use of “public transit, including taxis and vanpools, … [as] an economically and environmentally sound alternative to transportation by individual automobiles.”.
Q: Has SFPark already expanded beyond the eight pilot neighborhoods?
A. Yes, in late 2011 SFMTA announced that it would install the smart meters in several eastern neighborhoods: the northeast Mission around 17th/Folsom, xxxx in Potrero, xxx in Dogpatch and xxx in Mission Bay. Several months later, due to vocal community opposition, SFMTA said it would temporarily halt its plans in all of the neighborhoods except Mission Bay so that it could do more community outreach.
Q: Since SFMTA has put its plans on hold in the three eastern neighborhoods to do more outreach, what outreach has it done?
A: SFMTA has not put its metering plans on hold. They have simply “changed to goalposts” and said they will not install smart meters. Traditional parking meters are still planned. ENUF is against the senseless blanket installation of meters for the entire city.
SFMTA agreed to meet with us in the Jan 30 forum at Z-Space. Afterwards, we tried to get meetings via phone to no avail. March 15 we sent an email again requesting a meeting and copied Jay’s boss. We got a one line response, “I’ll get back to you.” Since the smart meters are now off the table, we’re being told that we have to deal with someone new. As far as we know, they’re still on track to install meters in August.
Q: Why is SFPark putting smart meters in other neighborhoods before they get the results of the pilot project?
A. Good question. We have asked SFMTA, and we’ll let you know when we hear back.
Q. Is ENUF opposed to all parking meters?
A. No. Meters should be used when appropriate and requested by businesses on a block by block basis.
Q. What is ENUF doing?
A. We are conducting a neighborhood survey and organizing a citizens parking plan. Our block captain organization will go on to tackle other livability issues in our neighborhoods in the future.
Q. If dialogue with SFMTA fails, what other options will ENUF consider?
A. Ahhh, the nuclear option. We hope it won’t come to that, but if the city tries to pull a snow job on us, they can expect an organized response.
Q: How can I help?
A: Get involved! Become a block captain: Group. Participate in the debate: Forums
Write letters to your Supervisor, the SFMTA Board, and the Mayor Get Involved or sign a petition (see Get Involved). If you would like to do more, contact us! Contact
Q: Can SFMTA decisions be reversed?
A: Yes. Within 60 days a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors can overturn an SFMTA decision regarding parking meters.
Q: What other options do we have to stop or change SFMTA’s plan to install parking meters?
A: Currently we are trying to work with the SFMTA instead of against them. In the meantime, protect yourself and get a residential permit or apply for a new residential permit area on your street.
Q: What legal options do we have?
A: Legal options include passing a Charter Amendment that would restore citizen input into traffic planning. To get a Charter Amendment on the ballot 47,177 signatures need to be collected. Afterwards, SF Residents can vote on it.
PARKING: SFMTA POLICIES & PRACTICES
Q: How many parking spots does San Francisco have? How many are metered?
A: San Francisco has 441,541 spots, which includes free, metered and public garages. Of these, 280,000 are on-street spaces, 25,000 of which are metered. 28,862 as of 3/3/12 – Ed’s budget presentation.
Q: I’ve heard that the SFMTA has removed permitted parking areas and replaced them with meters. Is that true?
A:Yes. It has happened on approximately 22 blocks throughout the city.
Q: My street is wide enough for angled or perpendicular parking. Why don’t they try that?
A: SFMTA says that angled parking is against its policy.
Q: To collect revenue and enhance parking turnover and unavailability, why doesn’t SFMTA enforce current restrictions that are in place, such as 1-hour time limits on some blocks and the 72-hour limit regularly violated by RVs in certain neighborhoods?
A. In a November 2011 meeting with a handful of concerned Mission district residents SFPark manager Jay Primus stated that parking control officers suffered from RSI (repetitive stress injury) from writing too many tickets.
Q: Has the SFMTA considered a hybrid permit program that would serve businesses as well as residents?
A: Jay Primus 1/31/12 – “Is there a permit somehow where businesses in the area that use…could somehow be able to have permitted spaces on streets, whether at meters or not? Historically that is not something we have done… One of the things we have done to accommodate a little bit of that need is the existing residential parking program, is allowing existing businesses in those areas where there is … they can get a varying number of parking permits for vehicles registered to that business address. As far as this particular brand new permit, it is something we could look at.”
MORE ON THE SMART METERS
Q: What is special about these “smart meters?”
A: You can pay by credit card. If you have a smart phone, once you download an app, you can upload more time remotely.
Q: How much money will be generated by the smart meters?
A: No revenue estimates have been given. SFMTA has stated that it expects to break even. According to a December 2011 evaluation by SFMTA, the new meters brought in 27 percent more net meter revenue (not including parking meter-related citations) than the older meters.
Q: Will meter revenue really go up?
A: Unclear. In one place the report states that “Net meter revenue (not including parking meter-related citations) increased by 20 percent at the new meters, compared to the rest of the City’s older meters that generated 7 percent less revenue than the previous year.” In another place the report says, “Combined revenue at the new meters decreased by about 3 percent.”
Q: The new meters take credit cards. Don’t the credit card companies charge about 3-5% in fees?
A: SFMTA says that meter revenue will go down by about 30% due to credit card and data transmission fees.
Q: Which vendors are benefiting financially from the project?
A: ENUF is still looking into this. So far we have found product designers and manufacturers, construction and installation companies, banks, and financial institutions that collect transaction fees, and vendors in the tool chain.
Q: How is the SFMTA defining availability?
A: In the pilot areas, availability is defined as the amount of time that meters are expired.
Q: Wait, that doesn’t make sense. I often park at meters that are expired or leave before my time is up.
A: Yes, that is a major flaw in their measurement of availability. If all meters had occupancy sensors they would be able to accurately judge availability.
Q: What will happen to the money generated by meters?
A: We are not sure. Many people feel it should go to Muni.
Q: So people will get fewer tickets?
A: Yes, as stated in their report, “Parking meter-related citations decreased by 35 percent at the new meters compared to a 21 percent decrease at meters that were not upgraded.”
Q: Citations went down for the entire city? Why is that?
A: The answer is unknown. It could be that the most expensive tickets in the United States are making motorists fearful to either come to San Francisco, or to park without paying the meters.
Q: Wait, isn’t there a Citizen’s Advisory Committee?
A: Yes! Emphasis on Advisory. They have no real power or influence.
Q: What kind of studies did the City do before starting this project?
A: Parking spots were counted. We are the first city in the world to do this.
Q: What determines whether a particular stretch of a block gets meters?
A: There is no uniform policy but if there is even one business or work-live loft on the block, the SFMTA is liable to declare the block a neighborhood commerce district.