Three weeks after the supervisor for San Francisco’s District 8 called the city the “Wild West” of double parking, Mayor Ed Lee vowed never to commit commit the violation again. He also said that he would begin using his security detail to cite offenders.
The mayor’s promise came after witnessing, on a single block of Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, three double-parked vehicles—and the thoroughfare isn’t even on the city’s list of top five violator streets. (Those include Sutter, Howard, Polk, Mission, and Union.) Although the streets are primarily found in the northeastern quadrant of San Francisco, they don’t concentrate in any one neighborhood, demonstrating the breadth of the problem citywide.
Wiener, who called for discussion on the issue at the city’s land use and economic development committee meeting last month, said, “People just seem to stop their vehicles wherever they want, whenever they want. Sometimes even when they have the possibility of pulling over.”
Violators run the gamut from taxis, delivery trucks, and private vehicles, the supervisor noted. They obstruct public transit lines and pose a danger to other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Eric Tuvel, program and design manager for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, agreed with Wiener, describing how cyclists must veer into traffic to avoid the violators. One answer, Tuvel said, may be to add separated bike pathways to the city’s existing lanes, like the ones found on Market Street.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is responding to officials by researching the number of parking control officers needed for effective patrolling by the Department of Parking and Traffic.
The study, which should conclude by next summer, isn’t limited to the double-parking issue and takes a numbers-based approach, looking at enforcement figures around parking activity, citations, and complaints, among other variables, said SFMTA representative Paul Rose.
Until the study’s completion, Rose says the agency plans to hire twenty-seven more enforcement officers.
Those hires aren’t additions to existing staff numbers, though. In an email to MissionLocal.org, Wiener wrote, “The agency is currently treading water and replacing attrition.”
Richard Olea, a city traffic engineer with the SFMTA, said that the agency’s officers did issue 22,000 double-parking citations last year and has so far issued 15,000 in 2013. He noted that double parking is a common problem in dense urban areas like San Francisco, second only to Manhattan in its limited parking supply.
“We are enforcing these rules, and it’s a matter of using our resources to the best of our ability, to be more efficient,” said Rose.
The fine for double parking is $110, the maximum allowed under the law. The fee was raised to that amount in recent years, and the SFMTA has posted No double parking signs on major streets like Mission and Stockton in an attempt to stem offenders.
If the fine isn’t raised again, however, Wiener believes stricter enforcement will be the only way to reshape the city’s double-parking culture.