SFMTA’s Data Indicates Bernal Parking Permit Zone May Not Meet SFMTA Requirements


Source: SFMTA

In the comments to last week’s post about the community meeting held on Dec. 7 to discuss the implementation of a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) area in portions of northwest Bernal, an astute Bernalwood reader noticed something odd: The proposed Bernal permit area does not appear to meet a SFMTA’s requirement for establishing a new RPP zone.

As Neighbor Rebecca points out, the SFMTA’s published requirements for creating a new RPP area are as follows:

To create a new Residential Permit Parking Area, a petition signed by at least 250 households (one signature per household) in the proposed area must be submitted to the SFMTA. See “Expand an Existing Permit Area” for petition forms.

  • The proposed block(s) must be contiguous to each other and must contain a minimum of one mile of street frontage.
  • The proposed block(s) must be of a low- or medium-density residential character — high-density land use is generally not suitable for RPP
  • At least fifty percent of the vehicles parked on the street in the proposed area must be non-resident vehicles.
  • At least eighty percent of the legal on-street parking spaces within the proposed area are occupied during the day.

That third point is of interest:”At least fifty percent of the vehicles parked on the street in the proposed area must be non-resident vehicles.”

During the December 7 community meeting, the SFMTA released the results of its survey of vehicles parked in northwest Bernal Heights. The survey showed that no more than 33% of the vehicles parked in northwest Bernal belong to non-residents — a ratio well below the 50% required under the RPP rules. (In the evening, the percentage of non-resident vehicles drops to about 23%.)

Meanwhile, the SFMTA data shows that the percentage  of vehicles belonging to Bernal residents who live less than 1/4 mile away from where their cars were parked in northwest Bernal ranges from a weekday low of 67% to as much as 80% during predawn morning hours:


Source: SFMTA presentation

Bernalwood reached out to the SFMTA three times over the course of the last four workdays to seek clarification on the apparent discrepancy between the agency’s moves to establish a new northwest Bernal RPP zone, the SFMTA’s published non-resident vehicle percentage requirement to create a new RPP area, and the SFMTA own vehicle survey data which indicates northwest Bernal does not meet the non-resident percentage requirement to become a RPP zone.

SFMTA has acknowledged these requests, but clarification has not been forthcoming.

63 thoughts on “SFMTA’s Data Indicates Bernal Parking Permit Zone May Not Meet SFMTA Requirements

    • There is something to this.

      I contacted the PM of the RPP (Kathyrn), asking about the survey design, which is an “opt-in”/”opt-out” question. It does *not* ask if people want an RPP.

      On being challenged that this is a bad survey, the PM’s response was: “We actually are very happy with the design of the survey”. Why? This is plainly coercion and the tribe that thinks this will magically solve their problems is being supported by the agency which will benefit to ensure it’s implementation.

      It should be plainly obvious: there are no good solutions, but there are better solutions than this.

  1. This is hilarious since this blog has pushed this issue in the past. Good grief. Also, it’s a holiday week for a lot of people so I’m not sure why you’re surprised that it takes time for city agencies to respond. You’re one person in a city of over 750,000. You’re also writing a blog that has now been on both sides of this issue. If I were at SFMTA, I would take the time to talk to my supervisors before talking to you and maybe even point you to a public affairs rep. Your coverage of city agencies is always biting, chiding or indignant.

  2. While it’s true that the small survey of cars over a couple of days did indicate an avg. of 33% non-residents, that criteria should only be part of the equation and should also be up for discussion and negotiation. Those requirements should have been looked at and changed a long time ago because the parking problem exists and this 50% number is really meaningless. You forgot to mention that this 50% of non-residents parking is not a criteria if a block wants to add on to an existing zone. That means that any block that requests to join an existing zone can be approved if it meets the criteria regardless of whether a survey showed it had less than 50% of non-residents parked. For the benefit of all readers I have posted that criteria here. And, no, it should not be assumed that the blocks requesting to be added have more than 50% non-residents parking there, they are just not required to meet that part of a survey. This criteria should be removed and this is being discussed with SFMTA. Also note that the proposed area is as follows and should hold some weight with getting this program:

    679 Units of which 472 voted YES, 57 voted NO, 150 did not vote either way.

    The numbers tell the story. Big parking problem and we need to do something about it.

    Requirements if you are adding to an existing Zone:

    The proposed block(s) must be contiguous to an existing residential permit parking area.
    The proposed block(s) must be of a low- or medium-density residential character — high-density land use is generally not suitable for RPP
    At least eighty percent of the legal on-street parking spaces within the proposed area are occupied during the day.
    Residents on a metered block may petition to have their addresses be included as part of a residential permit parking area; however, a petition for an unmetered block must also be submitted at the same time.
    Existing meters will not be removed.

    • I don’t think that the numbers tell the story you claim they do… a preponderance of “yes” votes show that there is a _perceived_ parking problem, but the real problem may be people’s unrealistic expectation that they can park close to their homes in a dense urban environment. If there are truly as few non-resident cars as reported, then establishing a parking permit zone will only go so far to solving the issue of distant parking.

      UNLESS you count all the cars owned buy residents who can’t afford a pass…? Yeah, I guess once those suckers are priced out parking will be much easier.

      • This is not about parking in front of one’s home…it’s about being able to park at least on the same block or maybe two blocks away. What is unreasonable about that? I would think if you own a car and can afford to buy gas and insurance for it..you should certainly be able to pay .35cents per day to park it. Most of the negative comments I keep reading about are typically from people that have garages and no idea of what it means to drive around for 30 minutes looking for a parking spot and finally find one maybe 1/2 mile from home if you are lucky.

      • RPP will not solve the problem of too many cars owned by residents. I don’t have a garage, and I feel your pain about searching for parking near my home. The problem is much worse at night, when residents return home for the evening, which permits won’t address. It seems like magical thinking to believe that once all of your neighbors have permits that somehow there will be more parking.

    • “While it’s true that the small survey of cars over a couple of days did indicate an avg. of 33% non-residents”

      Looks like the chart above shows a high (not average) of 33% “non-residents” (more than 1/4 of a mile) only between 2-4pm on weekdays. At other times it’s as low as 20%. So not an average of 33%. And if you bump up the radius to 1/2 a mile, these “non-resident” numbers go down farther.

      Seems like maybe this is not the cause of the parking problems.

    • The issue here is that the program will be a net negative with little to no benefits to you or anyone else and potentially substantial hardships for your neighbors as well as conflicting with SF policies to promote transit in what is a very well-connected part of SF. As quoted from the On-Street Parking Management and Pricing Study discussion of issues with the RPP:
      “The RPP program does not address parking availability if overall demand is high—especially if this demand is primarily associated with vehicles owned by residents of an RPP zone. The RPP program is of limited utility as a parking demand management tool: permit fees are low, and there is no link between an area’s supply of parking and the quantity of issued permits. The program promotes a sense of entitlement to inexpensive parking.” http://www.sfcta.org/sites/default/files/content/Planning/ParkingManagementStudy/pdfs/parking_study_final.pdf

    • The Petition Summary on SFMTA’s webpage (link attached below) and the numbers you state, Ellen, do not match. I’m not sure who is correct, but the petition states that within the proposed area there are 464 total units, of which 270 voted ‘yes’ with 194 ‘no/no vote’. The numbers do tell a story, but not the one you seem to indicate.

      Yes Total Street
      46 79 Winfield
      17 29 Coleridge
      16 27 Coleridge
      18 32 Coso
      4 7 Coso
      59 88 Mirabel
      29 53 Montezuma
      11 21 Precita
      45 85 Precita
      22 38 Shotwell
      3 5 Shotwell

      270 464
      (note: while Powers is indicated in the proposed blue zone, it did not meet the 51% threshold so I left it’s data out, 16 Y, 32 Units)

      Click to access North%20Bernal%20Petition%20Summary%20%282016.12.01%29.pdf

      • ha,ha…this is starting to sound like the recent election! I did respond to that post indicating that the numbers on the SFMTA posted PDF are static from the day they posted that up. I work regularly with people voting and also with SFMTA to get updated numbers. My numbers are actuals because we have received additional votes from POWERS, PROSPECT, PRECITA, etc.

      • The sheet posted by SFMTA is a static sheet that reflects data as of the date they posted that. Since then there are more YES votes and more blocks that have gone over 51% including Powers, Prospect, Lundys Lane, and another block on Precita. I am in regular contact with SFMTA and the numbers I posted are correct. Thanks for asking.

      • Hi, Just went through the numbers again on the current work sheet (the one that is not posted yet) and there were some corrections. The count after running through the calculations for the 10 streets/blocks that have exceeded 51% support in favor of is as follows:
        Total Units: 677
        Total YES: 383
        Total NO: 55
        Total not voted either way: 239

        Sorry for the error and hopefully Excel calculated it correct this time :).

      • Yeah and the number of non-residents parking here is still no greater than 33%. Does not qualify for RPP.

      • So it seems Ellen, that you have more up to date data than that which is published on the SFTMA website. Is there a reason that you have access to data that the general public does not? Maybe I’m mistaken and the data you have is available to members of the public who wish to stay abreast of these developments. Do you know if the current SFMTA information is available to the public and if so how to access it?

      • Also, as mentioned the spreadsheet posted is static as of the date it was posted. Since I am leading this project I have representatives on each street/block that are keeping me informed of who has recently voted in favor on their block via the online petition. That is how the numbers are updated. I would guess the NO votes could change as well so that will be shown when they run the new results. There is not any information being kept from the general public. It is just a matter of how often the SFMTA can query the survey database and post the results. Thanks.

  3. “You forgot to mention that this 50% of non-residents parking is not a criteria if a block wants to add on to an existing zone.”

    But this is a new zone, so this whole line of argument is moot.

    • Just to clarify…the line of argument is not moot. I don’t think you understood what I said. The criteria is not balanced or fair. A new block that wants to add on, and that could potentially have 50% or less of non-residents parking on their street…has less criteria to meet than a new zone. What is fair about that? It’s amazing how many people do not realize we have a parking problem but care more about their friends visiting then the safety of residents parking in the general vicinity of their homes. This is not about parking in front of one’s home…it’s about being able to park at least on the same block or maybe two blocks away. What is unreasonable about that considering safety concerns?

      • What safety concerns? Is the argument that it is so unsafe here that being outside is putting your life is in danger? But if it’s just one block it is safe? What about the folks walking up from the numerous bus stops and the BART station? Do you consider them to be in danger too? If you really believe just being outside is putting your life in danger, maybe prioritize having a connected garage? We all need to choose what to put our money toward and what sacrifices to make to live in which location, and piece of mind may be worth it if you perceive that much danger.

      • Also, it’s not a criteria to add on to a parking area because why repeat work that’s already done? If you survey an area and find that 50% or more are non-resident but then you exclude those folks from that area, it stands to reason that they are now parking nearby where they can.

      • Rebecca,
        You clearly do not get it. One should not assume that a street has more than 50% non-resident parking if a survey is not done. Regardless if it is a new zone or an existing zone. Obviously you have no clue to that or to the safety of people walking late at night in the neighborhood. My guess is you have a garage and have no problems parking. Well, good for you. Bravo, you made your point. End of conversation. It’s clear you are not in support of being part of a community here. Very disappointing for a community member.

      • @Ellen
        Being a part of our community does not mean having to agree with everything you say. You weaken your credibility when you stoop to personal attacks.

        Re: “It’s clear you are not in support of being part of a community here. Very disappointing for a community member.”

      • hmmm….sorry that you interpret that as such. I always refrain from personal attacks and if you participate on Next Door you will notice that all they do is attack people personally which is why I don’t even read Next Door anymore. The goal here is to work as a community and there are always going to be people in favor and not in favor. That is just the way life works. What I find overall disappointing is when I hear negative comments from people that seem to just do that..comment in a negative way and never propose any solutions. Also, not to mention how many people have dedicated their time to this project over three years to take back the parking in our neighborhood.

      • I’m sorry, but what safety concern are you citing? I’ve seen nowhere in the City’s materials on the program that safety is something taken into account or on offer. It feels like a bizarre hyperbole but reading your other posts, I can see that you are frothing for RPP.

        This is a dense city. My family took transit and bikes for 15 years before adding one car to our family. We knew it would be annoying to park. We suck it up and don’t ask our neighbors to bear financial hardships so we can feel exclusive. Besides, we get home after the 4pm free forall of RPP. Your solution is a meaningless waste of money for my family. And we feel safe here.

      • Good for you and your family. Everyone is concerned about safety these days and incidents at night in Bernal Heights have increased, including muggings on the street. I don’t make up these comments. Glad to know you feel safe.

      • Hi Ellen,
        I’ve honestly been on the fence about this issue but the way you are participating in this dialogue is making it difficult for me to support you and your cause. I hope you will reconsider your strategy.
        Your neighbor

      • Thanks. My goal has been to be transparent and state facts. I don’t feel that my participation is out of line considering how people have been so negative in response directly to me. I respect everyone’s opinion through this entire endeavor (of which has been 3 years for me). If you read through my posts they are all fact based. Thank you for considering supporting this project but if you don’t I respect that as well.

      • Ellen, actually I’m a transit user. No garage and no car. I have a background in data analysis and city planning, so I assure you that my comments are not coming from a place of ignorance. I moved here from elsewhere in SF (SOMA) specifically because of how transit-accessible it is! Absolutely great location for getting around without a vehicle. I walk frequently at all times of the day and night and am thankful to live in an area where I can do that and feel safe doing so. I’m sorry you feel so unsafe and I hope there is something as a neighborhood we can do to increase the perception of safety for those that don’t have it. I’ve read a number of studies on the issue and having more neighbors out and about is a great way to do that. More folks walking to and from transit, heck, even more folks walking farther to and from cars could improve the sense of a neighborhood space and that there are safe people around. I think if anything, an RPP would make you feel less safe. Because trying to minimize the amount of people out and about – having the goal of being able to quickly hustle from your private cars to your private houses as fast as possible – is in my opinion a very sad and unsustainable direction for a neighborhood in a city known for togetherness to be heading.

  4. Curious how you got 679 units? Not arguing with your numbers, just didn’t realize there was that much density among 160+ lots that are most single-family.

      • Hi Ellen, if the numbers you have on an SFMTA spreadsheet are different from the ones the SFMTA have posted online (linked below), do you know why there are two different sets? Also, if the linked document is correct, Powers does not have more than %50 ‘yes’ per unit, which means the 1 mile minimum of street to establish an RPP zone is also not met. @Todd, this might be something you address with SFMTA as well when you do hear from them.

        Click to access North%20Bernal%20Petition%20Summary%20%282016.12.01%29.pdf

      • Hi, the numbers posted by the SFMTA on that pdf are static from the day they posted it before the meeting. Since then we have more streets on board which means more total units and more votes. My numbers are accurate and I have double and tripled checked them. Thanks.

  5. I live on Precita. I received a paper survey through my mail slot about the parking permit timing options, to be completed online ( at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/n9kfpll ), or to be “checked below” and returned to 55 Mirabel.
    Curiously, online there are six choices, but on paper there are only four: the options Monday to Saturday 8AM – 6PM and Monday to Friday 8AM – 6PM were omitted.
    Why are those two options being suppressed?

    • Thanks for the question. The additional two options were added on after the paper flyer was already distributed. You can write in your option if you have a preference but please note this is not a VOTE..it is just feedback from the neighbors so SFMTA can consider what the neighborhood thinks might work. IF the RPP is approved then the SFMTA makes the final decisions on the days/times based on resident and business feedback…as well as the needs of their agency including ‘enforcement’. Hope that helps. Thanks for filling out the survey. If you can do it online that is the quickest.

      • It doesn’t matter, Ellen, because the non-resident survey shows that northwest bernal does not meet the requirements to become an RPP area.

      • Ellen, you don’t get it: The RPP won’t happen because we don’t have enough non-residents parking here to qualify. You are wasting everyone’s time.

      • Sally, I will make this my last comment. I do in fact get it and it is NOT a done deal. Please refrain from posting these types of comments. If you don’t want to sign anything don’t sign. I don’t really care. What I care about is making sure everyone knows what is going on and being transparent. Feel free to email me if you really need to rant about this.

      • Sally, I have been in contact with SFMTA and indeed, at least the staff person on this project seems to be willing to move forward even though this would be the first known (I have been told older zones and data are not available) area for which an RPP is established that would not meet their stated requirements. I can’t seem to get any indication of why they would establish an RPP when the data shows it won’t be helpful and doesn’t meet their stated requirements (maybe we’re an experiment or it’s just for revenue?), but we should all express our concern to SFMTA and if it goes before the board, to them as well. Movement away from objective determination of RPPs would set a very bad precedence for San Francisco and work against adopted TransitFirst policies. The staff person seems to be Kathryn.Studwell@sfmta.com, though Pamela.Johnson@sfmta.com, and InfoRPP@sfmta.com are listed as contacts on the SFMTA page for it.

    • This new unofficial survey doesn’t even have a way to indicate a person doesn’t support the RPP. You either have to pick what times you want the RPP or you can’t submit your thoughts. But I’m not sure what is the purpose of this unofficial survey. Maybe it exists because the suggested hours are beyond those SFMTA are or have ever considered so they won’t have it be a part of an official survey? So we want to push for a new zone that doesn’t meet the stated requirements for usefulness of a zone AND goes well beyond the actual hours SFMTA supports? AT what point does it seem like too much of a stretch so that a couple of folks can have only very slightly improved parking?

  6. If everyone who has a garage used their garage to park their vehicles in as opposed to their “stuff”, there probably wouldn’t be an issue.

    • Thanks Theresa, I agree with you 100% on the garage issue. That is also a big part of the parking problem. I know I would be parking in my garage if I had one and I would also park across the curb cut.

      • We are a 2-car family so I meant to say I would park in my garage everyday and park the 2nd car across the open curb cut of our driveway if possible. I would do whatever I could so I did not take a parking space on the street and leave it free for someone else to park that does not have a garage. Even better would be to have a 2-car garage which would take both cars off the street. That’s a dream 🙂

    • Or renovate garages into in-law units for transit users! More neighbors, more people walking, greater perception of safety, more support for local businesses, help ease the housing crisis, better for the environment, etc.! Care more about people than about cars!

  7. The pro-RPP arguments are like an interesting Rorschach test, with folks seeing it as the solution to a variety of parking issues. I wouldn’t have thought that garage owners had a dog in this fight, but I did engage with someone who signed the RPP petition because she was sick of cars partially blocking her driveway. Another fellow signed because cars regularly parked for days in the spot in front of his house, moving only for street cleaning and then reparking. Neither seemed to get that once the neighborhood went RPP, these issues would persist.

    Then there’s the argument that Bernal is some vast dumping grounds for vacationers, a problem I see as vastly overstated (and addressable through other means). There are the aforementioned “safety issues”. Then there are the folks annoyed by daytime parkers, whether they be employees of local businesses or BART commuters. This is the only issue that RPP would address, but I personally really don’t care who parks on the street during the day when I’m generally not home. It might genuinely impact a few residents, but I think most of the petition signers are motivated by other concerns and will be sorely disappointed when permits fail to solve their perceived problems.

    I thought the quote that Rebecca posted above directly from SFMTA was extremely telling: “the RPP program does not address parking availability if overall demand is high–especially if this demand is primarily associated with vehicles owned by residents of an RPP zone.” With 80+% of cars parked at night within .5 miles of their registered address, that pretty much describes us.

    Here’s my parking rant: careless parkers who center themselves in a spot that accommodates two cars (i.e. positioning a car 6-8 feet from the top of the block.) This is what makes my blood boil as I circle at night hunting for a spot. A pox on you, inconsiderate parkers! Hogging 5-10% of the available stock! If someone could convince me that RPP would take care of that, I’d sign in a minute….

    • Agree with your last point, even once told a guy to re-park outside my house when he tried pulling that, BUT—you can’t always know what it looked like when they parked there. Could have been a scooter, motorcycle, or a badly aligned car near them who have since left and made them look like the asshole.

  8. What’s wrong with trying this out for a year, and if it doesn’t help, we can change back.
    I have a garage that I use and will buy a yearly permit if it might help some neighbors without garages.

    • Thanks Tina for your comment. That is also an idea I am presenting to the SFMTA to consider for the first year. And thank you for caring about the parking in our neighborhood.

  9. Read the survey and holy crap MONDAY TO SATURDAY 8AM – 9PM is an option?! Standard M–F 8–6 (not to be pedantic but N-dashes not hyphens people!) is what it is, but that is just plain vindictive. No restaurant workers. No bartenders. No shop owners. No guests. No outsiders. If there is a Trump option, that it is.

  10. Here is Ronen’s e-mail address: Hillary.Ronen@sfgov.org

    I will be contacting her to request that she look into the disparity between SFMTA’s stated criteria and their decision to move forward despite not meeting them.

  11. If only folks who rented out bedrooms or portions of their homes limited these rentals to non-vehicle owners. Ding!!

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