Demand-based parking pricing may expand citywide

All of San Francisco’s parking meters and city-operated garages could soon be part of The City’s demand-responsive parking program known as SFpark.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates the program, already has 7,000 parking meters in the program, and 15 of the 20 city-operated garages are also part of the program.

Hank Wilson, the SFMTA’s parking policy manager, gave an informational presentation to the transit agency’s Board of Directors last Tuesday.

Wilson said the goals of expanding the program citywide will be the same as those in the SFpark pilot program:

“It’s to increase access to the commercial district making it easier for people to find parking.”

One of the other goals of the program is to reduce the number of drivers circling around the block looking for a parking space, said Wilson.

He said there will be additional parking meters added in the citywide expansion of SFpark.

SFpark began as a pilot program in 2011 in a select few neighborhoods where parking meter rate changes was based on demand. In the pilot areas, rates could range from 50 cents to $8 per hour.

The $8 per hour meter rate is usually found at meters within walking distance of AT&T Park during baseball games and other special events.

Drivers could use a live map on the SFpark website or use the mobile app to not just find where a metered parking space is available, but also the cheapest parking meter rate.

The cheapest parking meter rate, though, may require a person to walk a block or two further to their destination.

Parking rate changes that occur every quarter by an increase or decrease of 25 cents or rates did not change, said Wilson. The rate change would depend on the occupancy rate of the metered space.

Parking meter rates also changed during different times of the day and on Saturday.

The SFMTA said during its evaluation report of the pilot that on-street and off-street parking rates decreased. There was also 43 percent decrease of drivers searching for a parking space.

The Marina, Fillmore, Civic Center, Mission, Mission Bay, Downtown, South of Market and The Embarcadero areas were part of the pilot program.

Wilson plans to bring formal proposal to SFMTA Board of Directors in October for approval.