Bringing Parking Into the 20th, If Not 21st, Century

Parking can be a nightmare in San Francisco. I live two blocks from a main thoroughfare–where tech company buses ferry employees, causing luxury apartment complexes to sprout and the surrounding restaurant and bar scene to follow suit. This growth, combined with various ongoing projects by real estate owners and the City, has further complicated the parking situation. Like many, I rely exclusively on street parking. Consequently, I have mastered the art of hunting spaces and navigating street cleaning schedules. But there's a dark malice at work these days–one that regularly pushes my pain threshold into the red.

Construction parking. You know the signs–those plain, cold, lifeless contraptions of wood and metal that construction companies buy by the thousand and then slap with a heavy plastic "temporary" City permit to accommodate short and long-term projects. 

Walk up my street a half-block and you'll find a line of them several cars long. Up around the corner to the left you'll see another, part of which has been in effect (allegedly) for over a year. Take away five spaces in my neighborhood and it gets tight. Take away a few dozen and suddenly I'm circling longer and walking farther. My fuel economy and frustration level have developed an inverse relationship. 

I'm not griping about a burgeoning economy that has the public and private sector building and renovating at a break-neck pace. My complaint lies with the seemingly limitless amount of parking it consumes, the wasteful manner in which it's used, and the fact that the City allows it.

I'm all for improvements. Fix those sewer mains! Paint your ugly building! Beautify the neighborhood! But too often the signs linger and no work is done. Too often the signs are up for weeks when only a few days are really needed. Yes, I could just park. I could abandon my search for a truly safe spot and roll the dice on an expensive parking ticket or risk getting towed. After all, I haven't seen any work vehicles around for days. Sometimes I think I get lucky and swing into a space adjacent to the construction parking. But what is adjacent? What does the permit cover? There are no addresses on it. There's no way to tell how many spaces or which spaces are covered. Did someone get frustrated, park in a construction spot, and then move the sign? Did the crew finish work for the day or are they coming back?

There must be a better way. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Limit the number of permits alotted within a specified radius
  • Limit the idle time permitted at each construction space and have parking enforcement monitor (just think, City: more revenue from ticketing profligate permitees!)
  • Include the applicable address(es) on the permit so residents know where they can and can't park
  • Clarify and disseminate rules about parking in these spaces