Panhandle DMV Lot Now Open for Overnight and Weekend Parking

Panhandle DMV Lot Now Open for Overnight and Weekend Parking
By Andrew Dudley - Published on May 16, 2011.
Great news for residents and businesses on our Divisadero flank: your thirst for easier parking is finally being quenched -- courtesy of... the DMV.

The DMV's lot at Fell and Broderick, which boasts roughly 120 parking spaces, has been tantalizingly unavailable to the general public after business hours in recent years. But that all changed last Sunday night, when a private company called Panhandle Parking began operating at the lot, offering parking on an overnight, weekend, or monthly basis. The Backstory Panhandle Parking is the brainchild of Colby Moore, a local resident who lived for seven years at Hayes and Pierce, a time period during which he "fell in love with Divisadero," he tells Haighteration. Moore describes himself as a "very unlikely parking lot operator" -- and the story of how he came upon the DMV lot proves it. Initially, Moore, who has a background in commercial property, was interested in bringing the long-closed Harding Theater at 616 Divisadero back to life. He presented a plan to the property's owner to turn the building into a combination theater and community space -- but was unsuccessful. "[The discussions] went on for the better part of a year. We made an offer, but he turned us down cold," Moore says. Moore considered revising his offer, but was reluctant, in part because of one of the theater's main drawbacks: its lack of available parking. "I told him that parking would really make a difference. He said, 'Call the state -- they're thinking of opening the DMV lot to public parking.'" So, Moore did just that. It turns out the state did have a Request For Proposals out, in the hopes of finding a contractor to manage the DMV lot after hours. After all, those empty spaces are an underutilized public resource, and we all know how strapped the state is for cash. Moore quickly put a proposal together and sent it in. Though he says the state had plenty of proposals to choose from, Moore believes his status as a local with ties to the area might have given him an edge. Whatever the reason, he got the gig.
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The Details Consisting of Moore and one partner, Panhandle Parking has a year-to-year lease with the state. There's discussion of the DMV being redeveloped some time in the near future, so the lease could be canceled at any time. To offset that uncertainty, the state agreed to a four-year extension on the lease in the absence of any such redevelopment plans. For now, though, Panhandle Parking has the rights to manage almost the entire lot outside of the DMV's business hours -- namely, from 5pm to 7am on weekdays, and all day on weekends. Rates for the spaces will start at $10 for evening parking if you're out by 3am, $15 for overnight parking (out by 7am), and $200 for monthly parking. Moore says prices could change depending on what kind of response they get in the next few weeks. About 40 spaces in the lot will be devoted to monthly parking, with the remaining 80 or so set aside for evening and overnights. A small number of spaces will be reserved for DMV use and will not be operated by Panhandle Parking. Currently, Panhandle Parking has a digital paystation at the lot, which was required by the City of San Francisco. All parking revenues have to pass through a revenue control device, which both provides the customer a receipt and allows the City to verify its revenue. (For every dollar spent on parking, the City gets 25 cents.) Eventually, Panhandle Parking plans to build a booth and have an operator at the lot on busy nights -- but that will have to wait until the lot is repaved, which should be happening in the next month or so. Moore says the digital paystation has its own advantages, though. "If somebody calls us and says, 'We're having a party, we live right off Oak Street, there's no parking, can we use the lot?' We can work out a group rate for them, give them a code, [their guests] type the code into the machine, and they get the group rate... We're really open to whatever ideas [residents] have in terms of using the lot." Parties aside, the new availability of parking spots should be a big boon to Divisadero destinations like The Independent, restaurants like Nopa, Nopalito and Ragazza, and residents who live on or near the Divis corridor. If you'd like to get more information, or possibly reserve a spot for yourself, contact Colby at [email protected], or 415-690-5261.