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Dolores Street median parking legal starting this Friday

City green lights disgruntling practice that people have been doing for years anyway

Palm trees and cars lining Dolores Street. Torbak Hopper

Friday marks the beginning of the city’s pilot program allowing weekend parkers to use the medians on Dolores Street. Which, of course, they’ve been doing for decades anyway, so in a certain sense little will change.

Still, SFMTA’s tentative to-ahead legitimizes the practice, at least for the planned 16 months. The agency reminded the public of the new rules in an update on its site on Wednesday:

Effective Friday, April 21, it will be legal to park alongside Dolores Street center medians at specific times and locations on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays:

Fridays, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., Dolores Street between Alert Alley and 16th Street, southbound only.

Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., Dolores Street between Alert Alley and 16th Street, southbound only.

Sundays, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Dolores Street between 14th and 18th streets, both northbound and southbound

The SFMTA is installing new signage and red curb paint on medians to ensure that drivers understand when and where they are permitted to park. Vehicles parked between medians and at the end of medians near intersections will be ticketed and may be towed. (Emphasis in original.)

Worshipers at Dolores Street’s many churches (and one particular synagogue) have long been in the habit of parking on the median during weekend services due to a shortage of legal parking nearby.

So common is the practice that it even has an old nickname in the city: “Parking for God.”


Arguments over pious park jobs got so heated that when SFMTA assembled a citizen panel to brainstorm solutions (ranging from simply ticketing everyone to legalizing and expanding median parking, which is what they’ve ended up doing) they couldn’t come to a consensus even after nine months, at least according to transit planner John Knox White.

(Note that there’s some disagreement about what the panel eventually decided—several members swear a majority voted against median parking in 2016.)

Extending parking privileges to everyone and starting the window of opportunity on Friday night is the city’s attempt to avoid seeming like they’re catering specifically to churchgoers. That, presumably, is also why they didn’t kick it off last weekend, in time for Good Friday.