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The Best Laid Plans: Parking Proposal Promises Problems

So, the city is on the brink of civil war over the issues of housing and homelessness; it's beyond clear by now that to live comfortably—hell, even reasonably—in San Francisco costs a small mint (no pun intended there, Mint Plaza) and yet achieving such stability is by no means an equitable process. Yup, housing is a touchy subject around these parts. So why not use it as an analogy when trying to market a parking plan already guaranteed to incite a riot or twelve: "We're looking at actually pricing a parking space like housing - let the market dictate the price," said Sonali Bose, chief financial officer for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Yes, San Francisco, city officials are planning to begin a two-year pilot project that employs a "free market philosophy" in solving the problem that every San Franciscan, car owner or not, loves to kvetch about.

While the city already collects $30M per year in parking revenues, the Board of Supervisors claims it's only collecting one fifth of what it could. In addition to adjusting prices, the city also hopes to allow drivers to use credit cards, Monopoly money, all foreign currencies, Safeway Club and Pokemon trading cards, and cell phones to pay for parking. That, along with price adjustments, should maintain an 85% occupancy rate, thus promoting turnover and making metered parking—get this—perpetually available. Now obviously, we are not planners, and many who are do advocate for this kind of program. Yet common sense tells us that public transportation should factor in to this conversation, and it isn't mentioned once in this morning's Chron article— right, we did read this in the Chron. The reduction of traffic congestion and air pollution is cited as a benefit of the plan, as folks will have to circle for less time in order to find parking. Correct us if we're wrong (really planners, please do) but by that logic, wouldn't more traffic be drawn into the downtown area as well? San Francisco, is this really about parking and traffic?
· S.F. plans market rates for prized parking spaces [Chron]