Dolores Street median parking pilot approved

Drivers heading to Dolores Street to run errands, visit faith-based institutions, or lounge in Dolores Park will now be able to park legally in the median.

Churchgoers had been already parking in the medians in the area even though it had been illegal, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors on Tuesday approved a 16-month pilot where drivers will be able to park in the median — only during specific days and hours — on Dolores between 14th and 18th streets.

Transit officials said this will help clarify to drivers when it is appropriate to park in the median on Dolores Street. Last year, the SFMTA board approved for staff to work on a pilot.

Under the pilot, drivers will be able park from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays on Dolores Street between Alert Alley and 16th Street. On Sundays, drivers will be able to park at the median from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Officials at the SFMTA said there will be signs posted at all of the medians displaying the permitted days and hours.

Enforcement will play a key role in how the pilot will work.

John Knox White, a transportation planner for the SFMTA, said the transit agency before had not prioritized enforcement for drivers parking in the median, but promises that the transit agency will step up enforcement during the pilot:

“We have made a commitment, we have a commitment from our enforcement staff, that for the first two to three months, we will be very proactive, on-site enforcing the hours.”

He said it was the transit agency’s intention is to inform drivers that enforcement is about to begin:

“We want people to understand that once those hours are done, enforcement happens.”

During the first month of the pilot, there will be a one-month grace period where parking control officers will issue warnings to drivers violating any of median parking regulations.

SFMTA staff will use a number of metrics to evaluate the success of the pilot including if there is a reduction of vehicles parked in the middle of the night in the median, the elimination of vehicles parking in red-curb areas, the elimination of vehicles parking in between medians, emergency responses times in the area, and compliance with the permitted hours, the staff report said.

Board Director Joél Ramos told Knox White to possibly think about putting time limits at median parking spaces. He said once the public finds out those spaces are now legally open, the spaces will fill up fast and that a time limit would increase turnover.

SFMTA staff will organize a committee of community members where members will be able to give feedback on the pilot at quarterly public meetings.

The pilot project will begin sometime either February or March, according to the SFMTA.