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The Disputed Parking Territory Of The Upper Haight

Photo: Camden Avery/Hoodline
By Amy Stephenson - Published on March 09, 2015.

Parking in the Upper Haight has long been a hot-button issue for the community. Not only is the Upper Haight and Cole Valley home to about 21,000 people in only 30 square blocks, but the Haight's also one of the most popular tourist destinations city-wide. With that much going on, every inch counts.

Last year, as you might recall, the city announced a pilot program to dedicate public parking spots to care share programs. We started with seven spots, but that number increased when the city moved into an expansion phase of the pilot, as we reported in January. 

Since its announcement, the program has seen resistance in the Haight. Most recently, dissent has taken the form of a Change.org petition couching the pilot program as an attack on public space and the working class of San Francisco. As of this writing, it has 294 signatures out of 300 needed to get into the hands of Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation, and MTS spokesperson Andy Thornley.

Per the petition:

"It is more expensive to rent a car by the hour than the day. If SFMTA decides they like the revenue this pilot program brings , the number of these private use parking spaces will increase from 450 spaces to 900 spaces city wide. They will no longer be available for your (public) use. Guess who profits.  [ ...] These companies have misled the public into believing these actions will help save the environment, when in fact it will put more cars on the streets creating more pollution. This selfish corporate thinking compromises the local workers who need their vehicles to transport the tools of their various trades to the job sites."

Another petition has sprung up in response to the first. It was created by Tim Wayne, a Haight Ashbury resident, a few weeks ago. Wayne believes that the working class in San Francisco do want car share spots, as a space gets used by more people if it's for car sharing, as opposed to a single parking space for a private vehicle.  Wayne's petition is short, but his Nextdoor post on his position was longer (posted with permission): 

"For those of us who don’t own cars, we rely on the Muni. But, sometimes, there are errands for which the Muni just is not suited: trips to Costco, to Trader Joe’s, an emergency trip to the bank, etc. For these trips, there are by-the-hour carshare services like City Carshare.  For me, City Carshare is a god-send. City Carshare enabled me to not think twice about getting rid of my car. I use it about twice a week: once to run some errand and every Friday to take my dog to dog-agility class."

To add to the parking spot kerfuffle, the Public Realm Plan, as we announced last week, will also be taking spots from the Haight, in order to install Muni and pedestrian bulbouts and parklets. According to Lily Langlois, 36 spots along Haight Street will be dedicated to the Public Realm Plan's street improvements in its current draft. Looking just at Haight Street, that accounts for 8 percent of total parking from Central to Stanyan Streets.  

Losing 36 additional parking spots has prompted some neighbors to reconsider the big picture of parking loss in the Haight. We've noticed a renewed interest in parking issues since the announcement of the Public Realm Plan in neighborhood social media groups, so we wanted to throw it to you. Is the loss of more than 36 parking spaces worth the potential community benefit of fewer cars and more public spaces? Tell us in the comments. 

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