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SF's Newest Source of Sustainable Public Power: Whining About Sunday Meters!

After reading local Twitteratti for the past week, I think I've discovered a truly renewable, non-polluting source of sustainable energy - the endless whining by people about paying for parking on Sundays!

Well, that is, if there was some way to harness it.

Imagine the possiblities. San Francisco would become the world's most dominant energy provider, and we'd put all of the OPEC nations out of business. Seriously. On and on people are loudly whining about this like it's a human rights violation on the level of a low level atrocity the UN usually intervenes in. One almost expects these aggreived souls to call Jimmy Carter to show up and provide relief, as he has in the past in truly troubled parts of the world.

Memo to San Francisco: Calm The Frak Down. It's not the end of the world. Also: you are not entitled to free parking on public streets, and those of us who don't have a car have been seeing our fares on Muni go up and up, while auto parking continued to be subsidized. If you don't think it is, think of what would happen if the SFMTA decided to charge market rate, on a parity with private lots? Talk about a "human rights violation," eh?

Before we go on, a shout out to the screamers - I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of the motorist who gets a ton of tickets. I used to own a (big, gas guzzling luxury) car, and part of the reason the SFMTA is low on cash is because I'm not getting tickets anymore.

I also do not like the idea of using "parking tickets" as a revenue source (vs. using them as punishment for causing dangerous situations), something I've said about a million times on this blog in the last 7+ years. Nor was I happy when a forgotten ticket escalated to almost $100 and the SFMTA went after my tax refund (yes, they will do this, and we'll discuss this in a future post). So there.

That said, this is not an Armageddon for business owners. I say so because I live in a business district, the Inner Sunset, and I can say for certain what happens now - people park their cars after 6pm on Saturday and leave them in the "free" spots all along Irving Street until Monday morning.

This not only reduces the number of spots available for people who might need a car whilst patronizing local businesses, but it also creates a lot of traffic when people are circling the neighborhood or double parking waiting for a spot. Just on the block I live on, what should be a neighborhood street starts to pile up with endless traffic, with the inevitable horn honking on par with a street in Manhattan.

People need to realize that the only reason we didnt' have metered parking on Sundays in the first place was because most businesses weren't open on Sundays, so there was no point to it. In Not Very Religious San Francisco, that's changed, and people hogging the spots for 24 hours+ on Sunday isn't very conducive to business nowadays.

If we'd implemented demand based parking city-wide (which, ironically has reduced the cost of parking in zones experimenting with it) we could manage this even better for those who actually need it. (those of you who are able to walk or whatever and instead drive a few blocks for a pack of cigarettes don't fall in this category). Sadly, the shrill sounds of a Tea Party-esque minority refuse to listen to, content to keep up the shrill.

In the end, to make this work, the SFMTA has to make Muni run more efficiently on Sundays, so for the most part this isn't the Big Issue everyone's whines make it out to be. That's not an impossible task, but it will only happen if Muni's owners (you) make it a priority. Whining on blogs never changed anything, but putting pressure on the clown car that is City Hall sometimes works, and might even end up making a real difference that benefits everyone.

A shocking concept, I know, especially in the City of Choose-Up-Siders, but again, not impossible. Really!

Fun Fact: Los Angeles no longer has coin-only meters. You can pay with a credit or debit card, you don't need to use some stupid "app" that charges you an extra "fee," and they'll be doing more to manage parking in the future than we could hope for. They also are doing more to get people to ride buses, trains and their light rail system. Kinda puts SF and its alleged superiority to shame, doesn't it?

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