New Street Parking Policies: Are They Working?

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Parking signs

In the fall of 2010, the City Council adopted new on-street parking management policies.

These new policies were designed to (1) keep one or two spaces available on each block in our neighborhood business districts, (2) reduce congestion and environmental harm from cruising for an open space, (3) and shift from a revenue-based orientation to an outcome-based orientation. (I wrote extensively about these new policies when they were being developed.)

Now, there are new concerns that the parking policy changes made in 2010 are adversely impacting businesses, essentially driving customers away. There are specific concerns about the decision to extend pay periods from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in certain neighborhoods. (As a clarification, the Mayor sets the times of day for paid parking; the City Council determines the days of the week.) However, collected occupancy data shows the new policies are working as they were intended.

In the Chinatown-International District, a study of occupancy this past fall by SDOT showed that

"Data collected in September 2011 showed that the new evening parking hours in Chinatown/International District are achieving the intended results.  The City Council approved policy calls for parking spaces to be occupied between 65% and 83% of the time. Parking occupancy at 7:00 PM was measured at 78%, right in the target range of one to two open spaces. Data from our pay stations also shows transactions per day have been consistent in Chinatown/International District since September.  This preliminary data is consistent with data we’ve seen in the other neighborhoods where parking was extended to 8 PM in 2011."

SDOT will soon complete another citywide assessment of parking occupancy and further divide neighborhood parking areas into smaller zones which will allow even more precision in setting meter rates and hours to achieve the desired outcomes. Later this year, we'll all be able to pay on-street parking meter fees by cell phone.