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Sunset residents to SF: ‘No new parking’

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Transit project will kibosh hundreds of spaces, but Sunsetters don’t want new spots

Taraval Street in 1980, with an old streetcar and waves breaking on Ocean Beach at the end of the lane.
Taraval Street in 1980.
Marty Bernard

As part of SFMTA’s ongoing project upgrading the L Taraval light-rail line, the city will eliminate 150 parking spaces in the Sunset District in favor of boarding islands and other mass transit improvements.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, spaces scheduled for elimination stretch from 18th Avenue down to 45th Avenue. Sensitive to the needs of the Sunset’s many drivers, SFMTA considered adding 140 new spaces to nearby streets to mitigate the losses.

But then something unexpected happened: People living on those Sunset streets said no.

Eighty one percent of Sunset residents polled said that they didn’t want new so-called “angled parking” spaces (as opposed to existing spaces that run parallel to sidewalks) on their street, even if that means losing net parking in the neighborhood when the L project finishes.

On some blocks, the response was 100 percent against new parking, like Santiago from 32nd Avenue to 33rd and on three different blocks of Ulloa.

On 34th Avenue, 95 percent of those polled said no. Even relatively close votes, like 42nd Avenue, where residents said no by a 56 to 44 percent margin, would count as landslides in an election.

Of 25 blocks questioned, only one—Santiago between 27th and 28th—responded affirmatively to angled parking, with 75 percent saying yes.

According to the SFMTA:

Each house on blocks where changes were proposed received a multilingual ballot in the mail to vote on whether they wanted to adopt angled parking on their block.

As infrastructure upgrades on Taraval begin to rollout in the next few months, angled parking could be revisited as a tool to add parking supply in the area, but for now, most blocks will retain parallel parking.

Given the surprising results—when has any driver ever said there’s too much parking in San Francisco?—it’s worth pointing out that response rates weren’t high; only 38 percent of residents returned ballots.

Only six of the 25 blocks had a response rate more than 50 percent, with the lowest a mere 21 percent. Given how unpopular the proposal turned out to be, non-votes turned into de facto no votes when all was said and done.

Robert Campbell, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers