Greater Greater Washington

Parking


When parking prices reflect demand, everybody wins

When San Francisco let parking prices fluctuate with demand, drivers found it easier and faster to find parking. The city maximized its valuable curb parking spaces and modestly sped up buses.


Image from SFMTA.

These are some of the results from a recently-released evaluation of SFpark, a pilot program that started in 2011 by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) with support from the Federal Highway Administration.

SFpark used a sophisticated system of electromagnetic sensors, networked parking meters, and databases to track the occupancy of 7,000 on-street spaces in seven pilot neighborhoods and 15 of the city's 20 SFMTA-operated garages.

It took less time to find parking

The project's "primary focus was to make it easier to find a parking space," with prices allowed to fluctuate such that on-street spaces met a target occupancy of 60-80% on weekdays between 9 am and 6 pm. (Project managers chose this target as it generally allows for one space on each block space to sit open and ready for a newly arriving vehicle). According to the evaluation report, the dynamic-pricing pilot areas met this occupancy target more often than control areas the report compared them to.

As a result, the time it took to find parking decreased in the pilot area from an average of 11 minutes and 36 seconds to 6 minutes and 36 seconds, a 43% decrease. By comparison, the control areas saw only a 13% decrease. As a result of the reduced circling, the total distance vehicles traveled in the pilot area decreased by 30%, which meant less greenhouse gas emissions.

Nobody benefits when drivers circle for parking, take up road space, release more pollutants, and (in some cases) block the street by double-parking.

In many places and times, parking prices declined

One might think that this all occurred because parking prices shot up, and in some cases they did. For example, side streets along the Fillmore Street retail corridor saw weekday hourly prices go from the old, city-wide rate of $2.00 to as a high as $4.50. However, the average hourly rate for parking on the street, across the whole pilot area, actually went down by 4%, from $2.69 to $2.58. How could this be?

Just as roadway demand exceeds roadway supply (leading to congestion) only at certain times and in certain places, parking demand only exceeds parking supply in certain times and at certain places. In fact, many of San Francisco's pilot-area blocks sat relatively empty when parking cost a flat rate ($2.00, $3.00, or $3.50 per hour, depending on location) because those blocks were not desirable. Now, with parking as low as $0.25 per hour in some locations (the minimum price allowed under the program), demand is distributed more evenly across space.

Also, SFpark introduced time sensitivity to parking charges, making it possible to fine tune pricing to match demand across the day and across weekdays and weekends. Over the time period studied, four of the pilot neighborhoods saw increases in average weekday on-street parking rates, while three actually saw overall decreases.

How San Francisco mastered the politics

Between the evaluation report, the program's technical documentation, an upcoming evaluation from FHWA, and the downloadable data sets that program managers routinely update, there is a lot of quantitative data that researchers, activists, policy-makers and citizens can study in great detail.

Yet stepping back from the quantitative results for a moment, it is important also to recognize and learn from the way in which SFMTA sold dynamic pricing to the public in the first place.

First, it launched SFpark as a pilot, a strategy that can lower the perceived stakes (and tensions) for everyone involved. Second, it set primary and secondary goals that would not only benefit the community at large (reduce greenhouse gases, reduce congestion), but also those drivers paying the variable rates (make it easier to find a spot, make it easier to pay, reduce the number of parking tickets). Third, SFpark made marketing (with graphic design quality not usually seen from a public agency), messaging, transparency, and outreach core parts of the program.


The SFpark overview video explains complex technology with easy-to-understand animations and narration. Image from SFMTA.

It is vitally important that other cities take similar approaches if they are to change parking policy because such policy stirs up strong emotions and political action.

Jeffrey Tumlin, of the transportation-consulting firm Nelson\Nygaard, creatively refers to America's relationship with parking as an "addiction," which vividly sums up how difficult it is to alter the status quo around those patches of pavement where we store our cars. Similarly, a recent primer on parking pricing from FHWA notes that innovative parking policy ideas will go nowhere without political and public support.

The results of the SFpark pilot evaluation provide a rich source of rigorously measured outcomes that planners can reference in policy documents and presentations around the United States. Yet if similar programs and their beneficial outcomes are to take hold throughout the country, officials will need to copy not only SFpark's substance but also its style.

Stephen Crim is research director at Mobility Lab. An urban planner at heart, he is passionate about improving travel options that reduce automobile dependence. He is a former board member of Ride New Orleans and holds degrees from MIT and NYU. 

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So if a free market for parking spaces works...why wouldn't it work for housing, too? Let's drop the endless chatter about affordable housing and ditch the historic preservation regulations that do so much to raise the cost of housing, too.

H.F.

by Hill Feller on Jun 25, 2014 12:11 pm • linkreport

It's an interesting, even good, plan, but I'm not sure about the oversimplified argument that 'everybody wins'. Those whose parking fees are going up by 125% probably aren't winning - maybe they're simply making the decision that paying more is worth not having to circle as much. Maybe there are many folks who make the choice to park farther away from their destination instead of paying for the more expensive spaces. Are they winning too? I'm not sure.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 1:17 pm • linkreport

I like the idea of market-based parking, but it is likely to have a regressive effect. In communities where close-in housing is expensive, low-wage workers rely on cars for transport to cheaper areas outside of town. These people are already forced to bear the burden of artificial housing scarcity and long commutes, now they get to pay through the nose for parking too. That's rough.

by renegade09 on Jun 25, 2014 1:17 pm • linkreport

@Renegade09 - Are workers who are commuting in typically occupying on-street parking? I agree that you raise a valid concern, but I don't believe it is optimal for commuters to be occupying on-street spaces all day. Off-street, daily parking seems to be the better solution.

by Ross on Jun 25, 2014 1:22 pm • linkreport

@renegade09
The lowest-wage workers can't afford cars in the first place. If this speeds up buses and frees up more funding for public transit then it's hard to see a demand-based user fee for parking as regressive, seeing as car owners are disproportionately wealthy, and transit users disproportionately poor.

by beetroot on Jun 25, 2014 1:28 pm • linkreport

Perhaps the lowest-wage workers do not own cars, but a lot of low-wage and certainly many moderate wage workers do.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 1:38 pm • linkreport

Those whose parking fees are going up by 125% probably aren't winning - maybe they're simply making the decision that paying more is worth not having to circle as much.

If the goal is to get a parking spot then they are definitely winning.

Maybe there are many folks who make the choice to park farther away from their destination instead of paying for the more expensive spaces.

Which is what performance parking is designed to do. It provides options for both cheap spots and more expensive ones and can place either type of spot where it'll be used.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

These people are already forced to bear the burden of artificial housing scarcity and long commutes, now they get to pay through the nose for parking too.

Prices only rise for parking spots if demand is high. If demand isn't that high then prices should fall (and on average, prices fell in SF).

Meanwhile, people were already paying a high price for the parking. They were just paying for it with their time/gas.

Now, they're paying with money. Money the city could put towards improving transit, or affordable housing.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 1:50 pm • linkreport

If the goal is to get a parking spot then they are definitely winning.

Well, the goal may not just be to get a parking space. Price and convenience is also a factor, as the performance parking plan shows. If merely finding a space were "the" goal, then people would be clamoring for spaces irrespective of how much they cost or where they were located.

Which is what performance parking is designed to do. It provides options for both cheap spots and more expensive ones and can place either type of spot where it'll be used.

I'm not debating that it is not doing what it was designed to do, I'm debating the statement that "everyone wins" under the plan.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 1:55 pm • linkreport

i read everyone wins as meaning "users of modes are net winners, including drivers" not "every single individual wins"

I mean I love pareto and all that, but its really hard to find a dramatic policy change that makes absolutely every individual better off, unless the prior policy was even more insane than urban parking policy usually is.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 1:58 pm • linkreport

But, in San Francisco, the MUNI system is inexpensive - making the difference in price of parking or taking transit all the more dramatic. A round trip on the MUNI is $4. That's half the price of riding Metro. If two folks want to ride from Bethesda to Capitol Hill, you're talking $16 round trip. Driving and paying to park is FAR more price-competitive under those circumstances.

by Capt. Hilts on Jun 25, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

If merely finding a space were "the" goal, then people would be clamoring for spaces irrespective of how much they cost or where they were located.

Which is what some chose to do.

Previously people had two options:
- hope that they get lucky
- somehow ensure that more parking was built (hard to do that with street parking especially).

So people can no longer expect to get lucky. I guess they do lose out. I think the city can live with that though.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

i read everyone wins as meaning "users of modes are net winners, including drivers" not "every single individual wins"

Yes, I read it the same way. Or in other words, everyone = all road users. Still, I don't think the statement really holds that all road users win. Some do, some don't.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 2:02 pm • linkreport

If merely finding a space were "the" goal, then people would be clamoring for spaces irrespective of how much they cost or where they were located.
Which is what some chose to do.

Yes, that is what "some" choose to do, because to some people, the goal is to merely find a space. Not so for everyone though. Not for most people, I imagine. That's why the performance pricing works in the first place.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 2:03 pm • linkreport

If two folks want to ride from Bethesda to Capitol Hill, you're talking $16 round trip.

Except that you won't be making that journey on Muni. I don't know what the SF equivalent of Bethesda is, but it's almost certainly outside of the city of SF and therefore outside of Muni's operating area.

by Alex B. on Jun 25, 2014 2:04 pm • linkreport

Parking isn't the same as housing because housing is a need, parking is a want as long as there are alternatives.

by BTA on Jun 25, 2014 2:07 pm • linkreport

Scoot,

Right so people who'd rather pay more for certainty can, but people who'd rather not pay more can still do so. Everybody wins, except for someone who had unrealistic expectations in the first place.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 2:11 pm • linkreport

If this were SF those folks would take BART, their trip would cost around $3.50 per one-way trip, that's $14 roundtrip for two. Compare to $16 on WMATA. Not a huge difference.

Right so people who'd rather pay more for certainty can, but people who'd rather not pay more can still do so. Everybody wins, except for someone who had unrealistic expectations in the first place.

Sure, they still can do so, but maybe they're now walking an extra 10 minutes to their destination. Is that winning? Depends on how much value people put on their time or the desire not to walk (especially considering weather).

A "realistic expectation" by definition depends on reality, not on optimism. So if parking has cost, say $2.00 since as long as most people can remember, then $2.00 is the realistic expectation of what the parking costs. What is an optimal cost, or what the cost ought to be, is a different matter.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 2:19 pm • linkreport

@drumz
Shift/wage workers usually start early in the morning. As such, when the resource is allocated by 'first come-first served', they had an advantage on getting the best parking spots. Market pricing allocates on price, so now that advantage is gone. They have to compete with their wealthier clientele on price, not time of arrival.

Performance parking doesn't 'grow the pie'. It creates an amenity for those with the means to pay, by creating a burden for those who 'drive to qualify'. Demand for parking is high because there is not enough housing near employment centers. That issue could best be addressed by appropriate planning.

The extra funds for transit or affordable housing could be raised by a progressive income tax. That would have a redistributive effect, which you might think would be popular in a liberal city like SF. Of course, many of the people who are negatively affected by performance parking probably don't live/vote in the city, so they wouldn't have a say in the matter.

On the other hand, providing incentives for people to use non-car transportation is a worthwhile goal, but presenting performance parking as an 'everybody wins' scenario (which the article title clearly does) is definitely a stretch.

by renegade09 on Jun 25, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

MUNI is not as expensive as BART and covers much of downtown.

Two bucks a ride. Simple. Easy. Even for tourists and in the middle of the day - I was at the Forest Hill stop - I rarely waited more than 4 minutes for a train because 3 lines go through there. Compared to the 15 minute waits and fares twice as high, MUNI is great compared to Metro, whose prices are prohibitively expensive for many demographics - but much more competitive with the costs of driving and parking than Metro.

by Capt. Hilts on Jun 25, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

sorry for my typing. I mean all modes are winners. Not each individual road user.

is it POSSIBLE that motorists as a class lost, despite time savings, and the prices being a mix of increases and decreases? Well I suppose. but it seems extremely unlikely to me.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 2:25 pm • linkreport

but maybe they're now walking an extra 10 minutes to their destination
That was just as likely when the parking was cheaper in the high-demand spots. But now there is more of a choice. Besides, walking is healthy for you.

if parking has cost, say $2.00 since as long as most people can remember,

This hasn't been the case in DC certainly but maybe SF is different. I'd say someone expecting to see a price locked in forever also has unrealistic expectations.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 2:27 pm • linkreport

Sure, they still can do so, but maybe they're now walking an extra 10 minutes to their destination. Is that winning? Depends on how much value people put on their time or the desire not to walk (especially considering weather).

The entire point is to make people pay for the privilege of not wasting their time. The current situation makes people pay with their time (while they drive around looking for an open spot) and makes the rest of us pay in terms of higher emissions and more circling traffic.

Having used SFPark, the certainty of knowing where parking is available absolutely outweighs having to walk a bit further. People just need to get out of this mentality of "dive directly to my destination, then look for a place to park."

Of course not EVERYONE will be better off under a different system - that's not possible. I guess I don't get who will get screwed - people who put so little value on their time that they're willing to circle around endlessly to park very close, but not so little value that they aren't willing to walk for those minutes instead?

by MLD on Jun 25, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

"Shift/wage workers usually start early in the morning."

unless they work in restaurants that open at 11AM or later. I really dont think you can make a sweeping judgement about the relation of income to arrival time. It will vary.

"Performance parking doesn't 'grow the pie'. It creates an amenity for those with the means to pay, by creating a burden for those who 'drive to qualify'. "

It doesnt grow the number of spaces, but it demonstrably allocates them better, leaving aside the income question. Within any given income level there are people who value a space more or less for many reasons. If you assume thats not the case, you have assumed away the utiltiy gains of pricing.

"Demand for parking is high because there is not enough housing near employment centers. That issue could best be addressed by appropriate planning."

Thats only one reason. Its also because people with alternatives find driving optimal when parking is cheap or free, and people make all kinds of choices based on the price.

"The extra funds for transit or affordable housing could be raised by a progressive income tax.
That would have a redistributive effect, which you might think would be popular in a liberal city like SF."

Its possible they already have as progressive a tax code as they consider feasible. Recall the goal of using the funds for transit is to offset the regressive effect of the parking charge (if there is any) Solve the income equality problem cannot be the goal of every change that may occur.

" Of course, many of the people who are negatively affected by performance parking probably don't live/vote in the city, so they wouldn't have a say in the matter."

Thats true of many policy issues. In the case of SF I think the biggest one where that matter is limits on housing supply.

"On the other hand, providing incentives for people to use non-car transportation is a worthwhile goal, but presenting performance parking as an 'everybody wins' scenario (which the article title clearly does) is definitely a stretch."

I think it highly likely that all modes are net winners.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

I feel like the Muni/BART argument is cherry picking here. I can get downtown on the Green Line in about 10 minutes with short waits during the day from Columbia Heights. Same is true outside of track issues for most people living near a Metro stop within a few miles of downtown. That's totally different than Bethesda to Capital Hill.

by BTA on Jun 25, 2014 2:35 pm • linkreport

That was just as likely when the parking was cheaper in the high-demand spots. But now there is more of a choice. Besides, walking is healthy for you.

I'm not sure that it was "just as likely". Perhaps you can furnish some data on that? No one is disputing that walking is healthy; but it may also be sweaty, cumbersome, annoying or tiring.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

Renegade,

I don't know how it works in SF but in DC it's basically impossible to park on the street for the scenario you prescribe.

A huge number of metered spots aren't available during rush hour and then there are time limits anyway.

The extra funds for transit or affordable housing could be raised by a progressive income tax.

It surely could. That doesn't mean we shouldn't charge more for parking when there is demand for it. Especially when low cost parking on the street ends up giving the city higher costs anyway with things like worse traffic.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 2:36 pm • linkreport

Scoot,

When you can't find a spot you either move on to the next block. Or you wait. Either way time is being wasted.

FTA,

As a result, the time it took to find parking decreased in the pilot area from an average of 11 minutes and 36 seconds to 6 minutes and 36 seconds, a 43% decrease. By comparison, the control areas saw only a 13% decrease. As a result of the reduced circling, the total distance vehicles traveled in the pilot area decreased by 30%, which meant less greenhouse gas emissions.

[walking]may also be sweaty, cumbersome, annoying or tiring.

Ok, but is there policy argument somewhere? What should the city do about that? Seems like (maybe, not always) charging more to park closer to your destination is pretty efficient at figuring out who'd rather walk and who'd rather not.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 2:41 pm • linkreport

MUNI is not as expensive as BART and covers much of downtown.
Two bucks a ride. Simple. Easy. Even for tourists and in the middle of the day - I was at the Forest Hill stop - I rarely waited more than 4 minutes for a train because 3 lines go through there. Compared to the 15 minute waits and fares twice as high, MUNI is great compared to Metro, whose prices are prohibitively expensive for many demographics - but much more competitive with the costs of driving and parking than Metro.

Forest Hill to downtown SF is like Tenleytown to downtown DC. Muni is $2 at all times, Metro is $2.05 off-peak and $2.65 during peak. It's not THAT much of a difference. And Metro waits are not 15 minutes during the day!

by MLD on Jun 25, 2014 2:41 pm • linkreport

@Capt. Hilts:

MUNI operates only within San Francisco city, so comparing any MUNI trip to a Bethesda-Capitol Hill one is (picked) cherries to oranges. A suburb-to-City Bay Area transit trip would involve BART, Caltrain, ferry or commuter bus fares comparable to Metro's if not higher -- and quite possibly MUNI fares also.

by A Streeter on Jun 25, 2014 2:42 pm • linkreport

Also, let's talk about the housing costs in Forest Hill, because I could buy some damn good transit (and walking!) access in DC for those prices!

by MLD on Jun 25, 2014 2:44 pm • linkreport

Yes! Forest Hill is VERY pricey!

I could never afford to live there, but the folks that live farther out still pay $2 a MUNI ride.

by Capt. Hilts on Jun 25, 2014 2:47 pm • linkreport

A Streeter, I was just at a WMATA-sponsored event in which planners, etc. were to come up with ways to address regional transit issues. If WMATA thinks of itself as one system and refers to a 'region', then it should operate that way without expensive transfers from bus to rail and rail to bus, without stopping at the boundary, which the 30 buses do at Friendship Heights, and jumps in fares once a border is crossed. Yet, WMATA talks about a transit 'region' not 'regions', so I think the comparison with SF is relevant.

by Capt. Hilts on Jun 25, 2014 2:55 pm • linkreport

When you can't find a spot you either move on to the next block. Or you wait. Either way time is being wasted.

True, however just because someone saved 3 minutes, even 6 minutes does not mean they "won". If they decided that 10 minutes of their time was worth less than the additional cost, they might choose to walk. Doesn't per se make the outcome a net positive.

[walking]may also be sweaty, cumbersome, annoying or tiring. Ok, but is there policy argument somewhere?

There is no policy argument there. Is there a policy argument somewhere in your statement that walking is healthy?

Seems like (maybe, not always) charging more to park closer to your destination is pretty efficient at figuring out who'd rather walk and who'd rather not.

It is quite efficient at that. Still doesn't mean everybody wins.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 2:56 pm • linkreport

@walker
Performance parking allocates spaces differently- whether you think it is better or not is debatable. There are many, many things that we don't allocate on price, and access to public resources is very commonly one of them. Just because there is demand for something is not a reason in itself to start pricing that resource.

Example: If you go to the DMV on a Saturday, there is a long line. On weekdays, the line is shorter. So we could make it more 'efficient' by imposing a $10 surcharge on people who want service on a Saturday. Is that fair? If you are rich, $10 doesn't matter much to you, so it's a great idea. But if you do wage work during the week, it sucks. Of course, the total amount of time spent waiting by people in line at the DMV would shrink, so you could argue that 'everyone wins'.

by renegade09 on Jun 25, 2014 2:57 pm • linkreport

Scoot,

Well if its just about semantics then I don't know what to tell you. It seems like the policy has been working as it was designed to do which means that in aggregate, it's easier to park in SF than it was before. Whether or not that's "everybody wins" or not is kind of moot.

There is no policy argument there. Is there a policy argument somewhere in your statement that walking is healthy?

Well, many cities do have policies to get people walking more. This wasn't the goal of performance pricing but may be an indirect benefit.

But what I meant was, walking can be sweaty and tiring. The question is: so what? Should SF or any city take steps to make sure that people don't exert themselves too hard when walking from their car to an appointment?

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 3:05 pm • linkreport

Just because there is demand for something is not a reason in itself to start pricing that resource.

Sure but I think it's pretty clear that parking isn't one of those things. Keeping parking cheaper than demand says it should be subsidizes driving and makes the parking problem worse than it needs to be.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

"Performance parking allocates spaces differently- whether you think it is better or not is debatable. There are many, many things that we don't allocate on price, and access to public resources is very commonly one of them. Just because there is demand for something is not a reason in itself to start pricing that resource. "

We do allocate access to many public resources by price - for example admission to national parks, and of course access to mass transit. Most of the things we do not price are things where its not feasible (for example local parks) things we consider basic rights (like education) or things we wish to encourage (like museum attendance though even there there are limits). I don't think parking falls in any of those categories. We have a range of problems from under pricing or not pricing it. Indeed the status quo in SF, as in most urban areas is NOT free provision. Its simply pricing it arbitrarily.

"Example: If you go to the DMV on a Saturday, there is a long line. On weekdays, the line is shorter. So we could make it more 'efficient' by imposing a $10 surcharge on people who want service on a Saturday. Is that fair? If you are rich, $10 doesn't matter much to you, so it's a great idea. But if you do wage work during the week, it sucks. Of course, the total amount of time spent waiting by people in line at the DMV would shrink, so you could argue that 'everyone wins'."

Thats not a bad idea - I guess the problem is that the length of lines has less to do with physical capacity, than with DMV staffing decisions. I would note many people at DMV during the week, AFAICT, are students, unemployed, or folks who work shifts, so I doubt it would mostly benefit the affluent. BTW I note we DO charge at DMV for a range of services, even though they are legally required if you wish to drive at all - again a public service that is not provided free. Its just priced in an arbitrary way that does not reflect time of day, for whatever reason. Thats not a net benefit to the poor.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 3:11 pm • linkreport

Waiting in line at the DMV doesn't produce extra smog or CO2 emissions like circling around in a car does. Nor does it produce extra traffic that causes others to have to burn more gas.

Performance parking is not primarily about reducing people's waits. It's about reducing circling for a spot and therefore reducing the emissions and traffic generated by that. It is also about reducing uncertainty about parking - where people can find a spot, etc.

by MLD on Jun 25, 2014 3:11 pm • linkreport

Renegade

I support more progressive taxation. At the federal level, the state level, and to the extent possible at the local level. But I do not think that social equity requires refraining from the benefits of time of day pricing.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 3:13 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure if it's about semantics, I'm just reading what the story (and headline, prominently) say. If the article clearly states this idea, and then crafts the entire article around that idea, is the idea actually moot? It doesn't seem to be.

Well, many cities do have policies to get people walking more.... Should SF or any city take steps to make sure that people don't exert themselves too hard when walking from their car to an appointment?

Many cities have policies to make walking more comfortable. Tree-lined sidewalks is a prominent example. As are direct crossings, wide and smooth sidewalks or pedestrian plazas. It's actually in a city's interest to make walking, just as cycling and transit, more comfortable so that people will take more of an interest in it.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 3:20 pm • linkreport

scoot here is the opening of the article

"When San Francisco let parking prices fluctuate with demand, drivers found it easier and faster to find parking. The city maximized its valuable curb parking spaces and modestly sped up buses."

drivers, city revenue, and buses. IE it didnt help city revenue and bus riders by harming drivers AS A CLASS. While English grammar is such that one COULD read that as meaning ALL drivers benefited, I think thats a quibble.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 3:24 pm • linkreport

Waiting in line at the DMV doesn't produce extra smog or CO2 emissions like circling around in a car does. Nor does it produce extra traffic that causes others to have to burn more gas.

Yet it does produce a big negative externality -- customers' lost productivity. To say nothing of putting stress on DMV's own resources and employees. The DMV obviously puts some emphasis on trying to reduce long lines at its service centers, which is why many of their services are now offered online.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 3:27 pm • linkreport

Many cities have policies to make walking more comfortable.

I was expecting this and acknowledge it and hope every city does what it can to make the walking experience better. But things like that exist independent of why someone is walking or where they're walking from.

So "people have to walk more" is still not indicative of "losers" in this program.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 3:32 pm • linkreport

So "people have to walk more" is still not indicative of "losers" in this program.

Maybe, but it's probably not indicative of "winners" either, which was and has always been my point.

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 3:40 pm • linkreport

@MLD @Walker
I agree that performance parking achieves policy goals such as reducing emissions from circling traffic. But it is absolutely not some slam-dunk, "everyone's a winner" kind of policy innovation.

@Scoot is right that the article is disingenuous to make the case that there are no losers. Performance parking is a scheme to reserve the best parking spots for those most able to pay. That is a very political choice for resource allocation, and not one that is likely to meet widespread acclaim.

San Fransisco now makes it difficult for low-wage workers to live in the city, and selectively restricts their access to the parking in activity centers. This is 'progressive'? It looks to me like a bunch of wealthy elitists who hate the middle class.

by renegade09 on Jun 25, 2014 3:44 pm • linkreport

"Yet it does produce a big negative externality -- customers' lost productivity. "

Thats not really an externality - its cost, one that could in theory be lessened by congestion pricing - but its not an externality in the sense that pollution is, which is a direct cost on people who are not parties to the parking space usage/purchase transaction.

not every cost is an externality.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 3:45 pm • linkreport

But it is absolutely not some slam-dunk, "everyone's a winner" kind of policy innovation.

But, it is.

What hardships have the losers faced? Either they've paid $2.50 more than they would have otherwise to park (but found a spot quicker as a result)or they found a spot further out but had to walk a little bit.

That's not losing except in a very narrow parsing of the headline and doesn't detract from the overall thesis that performance parking is performing pretty much as expected.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 3:49 pm • linkreport

"@MLD @Walker
I agree that performance parking achieves policy goals such as reducing emissions from circling traffic. But it is absolutely not some slam-dunk, "everyone's a winner" kind of policy innovation. "

As I said above, its hard to formulate policy changes that make every indidivual a winner.

"@Scoot is right that the article is disingenuous to make the case that there are no losers."

again, I think the headline was about all modes. Not everone within each mode.

" Performance parking is a scheme to reserve the best parking spots for those most able to pay. "

NO!. for those most WILLING to pay, which is a huge difference. I occasionally take the beltway. MOst times I avoid the HOT lanes. SOME days I use them. because my income changed? NO. because those are the days Im running late to an appointment and the time savings is more valuable.

"That is a very political choice for resource allocation, and not one that is likely to meet widespread acclaim."

You seem to be suggesting that it harms, not just certain individuals, but certain income classes. A. That is still consistent with it being beneficial to motorists in general B, its unproven. I think it is likely incorrect. I do note that many suburbanites in SF use transit to get to the city. There are also still pockets of SF with poor people.

"San Fransisco now makes it difficult for low-wage workers to live in the city, and selectively restricts their access to the parking in activity centers. This is 'progressive'? It looks to me like a bunch of wealthy elitists who hate the middle class."

I would suggest that one needs to look at their policies overall - including on subsidized AH, on minimum wage, on taxes, etc. I also think that one should note that many places outside SF with many poor people (like Oakland) have IIUC pretty decent mass transit access. And many middle class people use transit. I am pretty sure the motive for pricing parking was to address serious issues with the status quo, not to harm the middle class - I mean thats a serious accusation - do you have any evidence for it beyond speculation about shift working patterns?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 3:52 pm • linkreport

Thats not really an externality ... which is a direct cost on people who are not parties to the parking space usage/purchase transaction.

It is an externality, as typically one person's productivity affects everyone who interacts with that production in some way. If you are a lawyer, for example, your lost productivity will affect your clients and your firm, not just yourself. On a macro scale, lost productivity has costs for economies as a whole, not just individuals.

And, as a case in point, quibbling does not seem to be a foreign concept to much of the GGW commentariat :)

by Scoot on Jun 25, 2014 3:56 pm • linkreport

"It is an externality, as typically one person's productivity affects everyone who interacts with that production in some way. If you are a lawyer, for example, your lost productivity will affect your clients and your firm, not just yourself. On a macro scale, lost productivity has costs for economies as a whole, not just individuals."

actually arguably all those costs are internalized. Its certainly not standard practice in doing cost benefit analysis to add something beyond the wage labor value in evaluating time savings - whether of road widening, rail projects, or anything else.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 4:05 pm • linkreport

@drumz @Walker
I remain very skeptical that performance parking has a progressive effect. The question hinges on whether you believe that there is a demographic that makes disproportionate use of their cars for transportation because of limited access to housing near transit or activity centers. I believe that there is such a demographic, and it broadly equates with the middle class. I don't have statistics to back this up, but the impact on middle class car commuters is being given very little weight in the discussion.

The point of @drumz that having to walk further or pay more doesn't count as a burden is just plain wrong. It is a burden. Whether it is an acceptable burden is clearly going to depend on who you ask.

Normally I have limited sympathy for car commuters, but when you artificially limit housing availability, the car becomes an instrument of affordability. That is clearly the case in SF. Parking demand would better be managed by making it easy for people to live near where they work. Performance parking may nonetheless become widespread in jurisdictions where car commuters are disenfranchised by living on the wrong side of a municipal boundary, like in SF.

by renegade09 on Jun 25, 2014 4:12 pm • linkreport

renegade

This paragraph indicates to me that in general parking prices went down except for the most coveted blocks.

One might think that this all occurred because parking prices shot up, and in some cases they did. For example, side streets along the Fillmore Street retail corridor saw weekday hourly prices go from the old, city-wide rate of $2.00 to as a high as $4.50. However, the average hourly rate for parking on the street, across the whole pilot area, actually went down by 4%, from $2.69 to $2.58. How could this be?

Just as roadway demand exceeds roadway supply (leading to congestion) only at certain times and in certain places, parking demand only exceeds parking supply in certain times and at certain places. In fact, many of San Francisco's pilot-area blocks sat relatively empty when parking cost a flat rate ($2.00, $3.00, or $3.50 per hour, depending on location) because those blocks were not desirable. Now, with parking as low as $0.25 per hour in some locations (the minimum price allowed under the program), demand is distributed more evenly across space.

Low income people work in some of those areas likely as well. However, unless there is not a reliable transit option there, then for the most part they would gain as prices fell for parking in most areas. I think given the overall numbers you'd have to show somehow that low income people need to disproportionately park in more expensive areas which I don't think is a natural conclusion to draw.

by BTA on Jun 25, 2014 4:27 pm • linkreport

I remain very skeptical that performance parking has a progressive effect.

I don't know if I've argued that. I don't even think its something that factors into my support of performance parking.

It is a burden. Whether it is an acceptable burden is clearly going to depend on who you ask.

I think in SF's case it's clear that it's an acceptable burden (max of $2.50 an hour more than usual). But usually when people argue that "there are losers" or "it's a burden" they're implicitly arguing that its an unacceptable burden.

I didn't write the headline, nor can I change it but I think arguing over whether its true or not because some people paid a couple bucks extra to park (but also got to their spaces quicker than before) is protesting too much.

by drumz on Jun 25, 2014 4:27 pm • linkreport

"I remain very skeptical that performance parking has a progressive effect"

If you mean by "progressive" net financial benefit to lower incomes (the dual meanings of "progressive are getting confusing here) than it may not. but that does not mean its regressive either. It could have roughly equal impacts across income groups.

Or it could have a small regressive effect, one not large compared to the other benefits.

judging each and every policy solely on its progressive or regressive impact is IMO, a way to get bad public policy. I realize its not politically realistic to expect every regressive policy to be appropriately compensated for, but I think keeping a wide range of arbitrary subsidies around just because of a small net benefit to income distribution, is not the best policy

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 25, 2014 4:28 pm • linkreport

@BTA
I accept the possibility that the reduced price of parking at less-desirable locations outweighs the inconvenience of walking further for lower-income drivers. There is a missing metric here: what do people think about the performance parking pilot? Is it popular, or do people hate it? Are people in the next-door ward demanding that it gets extended to their neighborhood too? I'd be prepared to admit I'm wrong if 95% of the drivers in the pilot area think it's an improvement over the previous parking system.

by renegade09 on Jun 25, 2014 4:51 pm • linkreport

I would really like to see some information that says that the poor working class are the ones parking their cars at meters in highly-trafficked areas. This is a canard that is brought up every time parking changes are implemented. The little guy is not the one who is driving his car into downtown DC and parking at a meter.

Beyond that, even if some low-income drivers are harmed, I don't think you can say that low-income people will not benefit as a group. They are more likely to live in the city and have to deal with the effects of the smog created by extra emissions. They are more likely to ride transit and benefit from extra city revenue directed to transit.

what do people think about the performance parking pilot? Is it popular, or do people hate it?
I haven't heard of any concerted effort to stop it - seems like people like it for the most part.

by MLD on Jun 25, 2014 5:07 pm • linkreport

And I agree with AWITC: "everybody wins" means:
Drivers (on average) win
Transit riders (on average) win
etc. Not that every single individual will win out. If you are a driver with some sort of magical parking genie that gets you a space right in front of your congested destination on the first try, you will probably lose.

by MLD on Jun 25, 2014 5:11 pm • linkreport

This is a canard that is brought up every time parking changes are implemented.

OK, but do you mean 'every time' like 'always', or is this more of a figurative thing again? :-)

OK, I'm off.

by renegade09 on Jun 25, 2014 5:46 pm • linkreport

@Capt. Hilts: You explicitly compared an entirely-within-San-Francisco situation to a suburb-to-DC situation.

I'd have no problems with a comparison of entirely-within-SF to entirely-within-DC (which I think would be pretty comparable, having ridden buses extensively in both cities), or suburb-to-SF with a suburb-to-DC (which I believe, again from my own experiences, might actually favor DC, but YMMV).

by A Streeter on Jun 25, 2014 5:48 pm • linkreport

Click here to see the SFpark.info final report to the Obama Administration

http://www.sfpark.info/complaints/sfpark_results

by SFpark Ripoff on Jun 25, 2014 7:06 pm • linkreport

@SFpark
You realize putting something in red italics doesn't make it true, correct? SFPark is in no way artificially inflating the price of parking. Providing parking for less than the amount that would leave one spot open at all times is the very definition of subsidizing parking. If someone is willing to pay $5 for the second-to-last spot on a street, but the government is only charging $2, that represents a subsidy. The entire purpose of SFPark is to bring supply & demand as close to their equilibrium point as possible.
However all of this is entirely irrelevant as you've already lost this particular policy battle, and no matter how much you try to spin the net positive results, theses kind of programs are going to spread across the country.

by beetroot on Jun 25, 2014 7:20 pm • linkreport

City officials can falsify reports to get Federal funding but the court of public opinion is what counts. Citizens across San Francisco don't want the meters or the program in their neighborhoods..

The city has turned against the same politicians that they voted for in the last election and things are not looking good for the bond measures that San Francisco city leaders have proposed.

What says the court of public opinion about SFpark? The video speaks volumes
http://www.sfpark.info/the_project/sfpark_scandal_rocks_city_hallsfmta_loses_credibility

by Sfpark Ripoff on Jun 25, 2014 10:51 pm • linkreport

Another piece of San Francisco's parking puzzle is an app called MonkeyParking, whereby private citizens can "sell" the spaces they occupy to individuals looking for a place to park. Personally I don't think public resources like street parking should be "disrupted" by that kind of technology, but that's almost certainly a discussion for another post.

http://valleywag.gawker.com/san-francisco-asks-apple-to-crack-down-on-predatory-p-1594952788

by WestEgg on Jun 25, 2014 11:26 pm • linkreport

Watch CBS News test the ridiculous SFpark app. The reporters drive around in circles for 45 minutes, get lost and then give up and find parking the old fashioned way. 45 million dollars of taxpayer money was squandered on this boondoggle!

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/category/watch-listen/video-on-demand/?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=5780913

by Sfpark Ripoff on Jun 26, 2014 12:59 am • linkreport

Wow, just watch that video:

"Oh, we found out later that those 'P' icons are actually parking garages!"

Morons. Maybe if they had taken 5 minutes to figure out how the app works they might have had better luck.

Again, it just goes back to my earlier point - you have to change the mentality about how people look for parking. Drivers already plan ahead for things like traffic based on when they are taking their trip - what's the difference between that and pulling up the SFPark app before you leave to see where the most available parking will be when you get to your destination?

by MLD on Jun 26, 2014 8:29 am • linkreport

I think it's a cool idea.

Makes you wonder if transit should have an inverse pricing model. Cheaper during rush than other times, etc.

by The Truth™ on Jun 26, 2014 11:30 am • linkreport

There's a problem with your logic. City officials say to "Look at the app before you leave" but that defeats the purpose of using the SFpark App because by the time you get there, the parking situation changes again. What is the point of having real time data if you are not going to use it in real time?

So now people are now using their smartphones while driving, in order to seek out a new space to park.  Americans are seeing the First-Hand Dangers of Driving while distracted and a recent study from Nationwide Insurance says more than one in four Americans who download apps admit to using those apps while driving.

As we understand it the SFpark program goal is to have at least one free space on every block, and strives for 80% parking occupancy and 15% available spaces. This unrealistic goal is virtually impossible to acheive, particularily, in congested areas where people are already waiting for a parking space. The moment someone pulls out of a parking space the waiting, or circling car will take its place.

Cities can't organize their traffic flow around something they saw on "The Jetsons". SFpark was a 45 million dollar boondoggle that should not be attempted in other cities.

by SFpark Ripoff on Jun 26, 2014 2:42 pm • linkreport

Is this a time to bring up my JetWalk™ infrastructure plan? Jetsons-style moving sidewalks will whisk you away to all parts of the city. No traffic, parking, or unsightly rails. Goooooo JetWalk™!

Don't just talk the talk, walk the JetWalk™.

by The Truth™ on Jun 26, 2014 3:10 pm • linkreport

You don't have to know in real time exactly where there is one space. That's because it's likely that a few blocks away there is a block with 75%+ of its spaces available.

That is the amazing thing you see if you look at the SF Park availability pricing map. There are blocks where the parking price goes up each month because it is full, while the adjacent block's price goes down because so many spaces are available.

People need to think of it as a strategy - where are spaces MORE LIKELY to be available for you to park in. Not a real-time "where is someone pulling out NOW closest to my destination." Pull up the app before you leave, see where green space is somewhere you're willing to walk from, drive there and park there because it's totally empty.

by MLD on Jun 26, 2014 3:45 pm • linkreport

Is system capable of dynamically "sizing" parking spaces? e.g. suppose at one time block is filled with a large number of small cars. Can system "create" more spaces?

Thx.

by David Sucher on Jul 4, 2014 2:23 am • linkreport

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