Permit Parking Coming to Northwest Bernal as SFMTA Approves Plan

This week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Board approved a plan to implement a residential permit parking (RPP) scheme along select streets in northwest Bernal Heights. The vote on the SFMTA Board was unanimous.

Under the new RPP, which will be the first permit parking zone in Bernal Heights, residents who live on designated streets will be able to obtain permits allowing them to park their vehicles on the street throughout the day.

Parking for people without permits will be limited to 2 hours maximum from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 6 pm.

The Bernal Heights RPP will be the first in the City to reduce the number of permits each resident is eligible to receive. Under the new system approved this week, each RPP household can receive one permit per driver, with a maximum two permits per household.

Permit parking will go into effect along 16 blocks in Bernal Heights where more than 50 percent of residents signed a petitions to join a permit parking system. The Bernal streets that will have RPP include: Coleridge (1- 199), Coso (1 – 199), Fair (1-99), Lundy’s Lane (1-29), Mirabel, Montezuma, Powers, Precita (1 – 299), Prospect (00-199), Shotwell (1400 – 1599), and Winfield (1 – 99).

Under the RPP system, permits are issued only to people who live at addresses on streets within the permit parking zone.  SFMTA surveys indicate that 77% of the vehicles currently parked on the streets in the new RPP zone belong to people who live within a half-mile of the zone, an indication that many those vehicles likely belong to other Bernal residents.

Bernal residents who live on streets adjacent to the RPP zone are not eligible to receive permits and will not be able to park legally in the RPP zone during daytime enforcement hours.

The SFMTA’s petition system had been criticized by some Bernal neighbors who said the process was marred by irregular deadlines and poor communication on the part of SFMTA staff.

At Tuesday’s SFMTA Board meeting, some members of the public expressed concern that RPP will make it harder for teachers at Leonard Flynn School in Precita Park and workers at nearby nonprofits to find daytime parking. Precita Park is not in the new RPP zone, so teachers and nonprofit workers do not qualify for parking permits. To address these concerns, SFMTA may alter its rules to issue permits to some teachers and nonprofit workers outside the RPP zone.

Permits will become available and signs will be erected to designate the RPP zone within a few months.

Tuesday: Final SFMTA Board Hearing on Northwest Bernal Permit Parking Proposal

Next Tuesday, Jan 16, the SFMTA Board of Directors will hold what may be the final hearing on a controversial proposal to implement a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) program in northwest Bernal Heights.

Tuesday’s hearing about the Bernal RPP will include a public comment period. If the SFMTA Board then votes to approve the Northwest Bernal RPP plan, residential permit parking will likely go into effect on the specified blocks within a few months .

SFMTA’s announcement about the hearing says:

NORTHWEST BERNAL HEIGHTS RPP HEARING

Residents of northwest Bernal Heights have petitioned the SFMTA to form a new residential parking permit area to better manage and find parking closer to their homes.

The proposal will be heard by the SFMTA Board of Directors on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, at 1:00 P.M., at San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA 94102, Room 400. Interested parties are invited to attend and comment on the proposal.

The following blocks are proposed for residential permit parking: Coleridge (1- 199), Coso (1 – 199), Fair (1-99), Lundy’s Lane (1-29), Mirabel, Montezuma, Powers, Precita (1 – 299), Prospect (00-199), Shotwell (1400 – 1599), and Winfield (1 – 99).

The proposed RPP area will have the following policies for the number of permits that may be issued per address:

  • One permit per driver; two permits per address
  • Permits for medical care and child care providers do not count towards the two per address limit
  • Additional permits may be issued to an address if parking is available in the immediate area and the permit is for additional licensed drivers in the household

More information about the parking planning efforts in NW Bernal Heights can be found at www.sfmta.com/northbernalrpp or email InfoRPP@sfmta.com.

For those who can’t attend the hearing on Jan. 16, comments to the Board can be submitted via email at MTABoard@sfmta.com.

The proposal to introduce RPP in northwest Bernal has been deeply divisive, pitting Bernal neighbor against neighbor, and block against block, over the question of whether or not permit parking is appropriate for the neighborhood.

In addition, multiple changes to the proposed RPP rules and irregularities in the SFMTA’s petition process have prompted some Bernal neighbors to question the accountability and competence of the SFTMA’s permit parking program staff. Additional question have been raised about the integrity of SFMTA’s vehicle census data.

Advocates for the Bernal RPP say permits are needed to prevent daytime workers, commuters, and air travelers heading to SFO from occupying scarce parking space in northwest Bernal Heights.

Critics point to SFMTA surveys which show that 73% of the vehicles currently parked on the proposed RPP streets belong to people who live within a half-mile of the zone, an indication that many those vehicles likely belong to other Bernal residents. SFMTA’s survey indicates that 19% of the vehicles parked in the RPP zone today belong to people who live more than 2 miles away.

If the parking plan is implemented. Bernal residents who do not live at a designated address within the RPP zone who will no longer be able to park on streets in the RPP zone for more than 2 hours between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday.

If approved, the annual permit fee will be $128 per auto and $96 for each motorcycle.

Friday: Public Hearing on Northwest Bernal Permit Parking Plan

At 10 am in Room 416 at City Hall this Friday, Nov. 17, the SFMTA will hold a public hearing to discuss yet another revised version of the revised plan regarding the controversial proposal to establish a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) zone in northwest Bernal Heights.

In an email to Bernalwood, SFMTA parking policy manager Hank Wilson explained the details of the latest RPP proposal:

At the public hearing in July 2017, attendees included both supporters and those not in support of creating a new RPP Area. For the most part, supporters live on blocks that voted to be included in the RPP Area, and those not in support live on blocks that did not vote to be included in the RPP Area. A large number of those who spoke against creating a new RPP Area live on Elsie Street, which had voted against joining the RPP Area and was not included as one of the proposed RPP blocks. Most of the folks from Elsie Street opposed the inclusion of the 200 block of Esmeralda, saying that they often used that block to park their cars.

Since the July 2017 public hearing, the votes on the 200 block of Esmeralda have shifted and that block is no longer in support of joining an RPP Area. In addition, the residents of the 0-99 block of Prospect have voted to be included in the RPP area. Here is an updated map of the proposed RPP Area.

As you may remember from community meetings on this subject, the SFMTA is also pursuing some more general RPP reforms. A proposal before the SFMTA Board of Directors was heard on October 3, 2017, but was continued indefinitely by the Board.

Rather than delaying a decision on the NW Bernal Heights proposal further by waiting for the RPP Reform proposal to return to the SFMTA Board, we are moving forward with bringing a NW Bernal Heights proposal to the SFMTA Board.

The NW Bernal Heights RPP proposal will have the following policies for the number of permits that may be issued per address:

  • One permit per driver; two permits per address
  • Permits for medical care and child care providers do not count towards the two per address limit
  • Additional permits may be issued to an address if there is parking available in the immediate area and the permit is for additional licensed drivers in the household

The next step is another public hearing at City Hall on Friday, November 17, at 10am. After that, the proposal will move to the SFMTA Board of Directors. We hope for the proposal to be heard at the January 16, 2018 board meeting, but that date has not been confirmed.

SFMTA also sent an email about the Nov. 17 meeting, which contains some additional context:

The SFMTA has scheduled a 10 A.M. public hearing for November 17, 2017, at San Francisco City Hall, Room 416, to consider modifications to the proposed northwest Bernal Heights Residential Permit Parking Area (RPP).

The purpose of the public hearing is to solicit comment on the proposed new RPP Area. No decisions will be made at this meeting. If you are not able to attend the public hearing, you may submit your comment in writing or by email to Kathryn Studwell, Policy Manager, Residential Parking, 1 S. Van Ness, 8th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103 or email her at Kathryn.Studwell@sfmta.com.

The RPP Area proposal has been modified to:

  • Remove the 200-299 block of Esmeralda Avenue
  • Add the 00-99 block of Prospect Avenue

The proposed RPP Area will have the following policies for the number of permits that may be issued per address:

  • One permit per driver; two permits per address
  • Permits for medical care and child care providers do not count towards the two per address limit
  • Additional permits may be issued to an address if there is parking available in the immediate area and the permit is for additional licensed drivers in the household

How We Got Here

  • Residents of northwest Bernal Heights requested the SFMTA consider establishing a new Residential Permit Parking (RPP) Area, which led to a community outreach process that started in spring 2015.
  • The proposed RPP Area is comprised of those blocks where 50% or more of the addresses voted to create a new area; this voting process was completed in May 2017.
  • Since July 2017, a majority of residents on the 200 block of Esmeralda decided that they no longer support RPP on their block, while a majority of residents of the unit block of Prospect decided to support RPP.

Additional information about the Bernal Heights RPP plan is available on the SFMTA website.

Friday: City Hall Hearing on SFMTA’s Northwest Bernal Permit Parking Plan

Bernalwood has been covering the bureaucratic debacle that is the Northwest Bernal Residential Parking Permit (RPP) proposal for two years, and while the process has revealed much about the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s dubious methodologies and lack of accountability, it’s now moving into the final stages of the approval process.

On Friday, July 7 at 10 am in Room 416 at City Hall , the SFMTA will  hold a public hearing to review the proposal to establish a new RPP zone in Northwest Bernal Heights. This map outlines the proposed permit area, where Bernal residents who live outside the blue RPP zones will be restricted to two-hour parking Monday – Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm:

Source: SFMTA

The SFMTA meeting announcement says:

Residents of northwest Bernal Heights have petitioned the SFMTA to form a new residential parking permit area to better manage and find parking closer to their homes.

In May 2017, a majority of residents on the following blocks voted to move forward with residential permit parking Coleridge (1 – 99), Coso (1 – 199), Esmeralda (200-299), Fair (1-99), Lundy’s Lane (1-29), Mirabel, Montezuma, Powers, Precita (1 – 299), Prospect (100-199), Shotwell (1400 – 1499), and Winfield (1 – 99).

The proposal to create a RPP area on these blocks will be heard at a SFMTA Engineering Public Hearing at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 7 at City Hall, Room 416. Interested parties are invited to attend and comment on the proposal.

A summary of the community vote and overall project history can be found on the project website and May project update.

This map [PDF] shows the blocks where 50% or more residents voted for inclusion in the RPP pilot program, with the following RPP regulations:

  • One parking permit per driver
  • Two parking permits per household
  • Two-hour parking limit for non-permit holders Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Permit Parking Set for Northwest Bernal as SFMTA Releases Updated Zone Map

Source: SFMTA

The process has been long, contentious, and marred by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s obfuscation and incompetence, but the latest news is that the proposal to create a new Residential Parking Permit area in northwest Bernal Heights is moving ahead.

In an email some Bernal residents received yesterday, SFMTA wrote:

Residential Permit Parking Coming to Northwest Bernal Heights

Thank you for your continued interest in parking in northwest Bernal Heights.

The Voting Results Are In

  • Nearly 1,230 residents responded to the SFMTA’s survey regarding residential permit parking (RPP) for northwest Bernal Heights.
  • As a result, 14 blocks voted to establish an RPP area, viewable on this map [PDF].
  • For those 14 blocks, 624 votes were tallied with 360 (58%) of the households voting for RPP on their block.
  • This spreadsheet [PDF] provides a full breakdown of how each block voted.

How Residential Permit Parking Came to Northwest Bernal Heights

The creation of the RPP area was driven by interest from neighbors in establishing an RPP area, community conversations that started in the spring of 2015, and the SFMTA’s RPP Evaluation and Reform Project, which is an effort to improve the city’s outdated RPP regulations.

Northwest Bernal Heights Community Engagement and Voting Timeline

  • June/July 2015 – SFMTA staff attend two community-organized meetings to provide general information about the RPP program and process.
  • Fall 2015 – The SFMTA creates and hosts an online survey where residents can vote for or against RPP on their street.
  • December 2016 – The SFMTA hosts a public meeting to share findings on parking in the neighborhood and possible next steps for the community.
  • April 2017 – The SFMTA hosts a community meeting and presents RPP recommendations to neighbors with details about next steps and opportunities to vote again on RPP.
  • May 1, 2017 – Residents vote for or against RPP, including two pilot measures, resulting from the RPP Reform Project. Voting took place through an online ballot, as well as through direct contact with SFMTA staff. Voting closed on May 17.
  • May 30, 2017- the SFMTA sends out results of the community vote.

This map [PDF] shows the blocks where 50% or more residents voted for inclusion in the RPP pilot program, with the following RPP regulations:

  • One parking permit per driver
  • Two parking permits per household
  • Two-hour parking limit for non-permit holders Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Next Steps

An SFMTA public hearing will be scheduled within the next several months. When the hearing is scheduled, the date, time and place will be broadly announced.

If your block was not included in the RPP area, but you are interested in being included, visit the SFMTA’s RPP area expansion website to learn about the process to expand an existing permit area.

SFMTA Faces Criticism During Tense Meeting on Northwest Bernal Permit Parking Plan

SFFMTA parking policy manager Hank Wilson at the April 18 community meeting.

“This is a really good focus group.”

That’s  what Hank Wilson, the manager of parking policy at SFMTA, told a crowd of Bernal Heights residents last week at a contentious April 18  community meeting about SFMTA’s proposal to implement a new residential parking permit program (RPP) on select streets in northwest Bernal Heights.

During the meeting, more than a dozen Bernal Heights residents took turns scolding SFMTA for failing to provide timely information to local residents, repeatedly contradicting or redefining its own data about non-resident parking in Bernal Heights, and arbitrarily changing the rules that  will govern the proposed RPP in northwest Bernal.

The net result, as one Bernal resident pointed out, is that “[SFMTA is] pitting streets against each other, and neighbor a against neighbor.”

That was a recurring theme throughout the evening, as Bernal neighbors who both supported and opposed the parking plan described how the RPP program seems to have been designed from the outset to fuel neighbor-on-neighbor antagonism.

Source: SFMTA

Quite rationally, neighbors who want RPP in northwest Bernal are thrilled that SFMTA seems determined to make the new permit parking zone happen, regardless how much the agency botched the process along the way.  Meanwhile, Bernal neighbors who either oppose the RPP zone, or who live on streets just outside of it, or who never ever heard about it at all because SFMTA failed to notify them, were told that the new zone is more or less a done deal.

“These people have more of a right to park here than those people,” explained SFMTA’s Wilson. “That’s the basis of the program.”

SFMTA data shows that 32% of cars that currently park on proposed RPP streets belong to other Bernal residents living within 1/4 mile. (Source: SFMTA)

And so, on that cheerful note, what’s next for the Northwest Bernal RPP?

In a strange concession to SFMTA’s mismanagement of the Bernal RPP process, Wilson said that the agency has re-opened the petitions used to determine whether or not individual streets will be included in the northwest Bernal RPP.

SFMTA’s rule is that at least 50% of the households on each block must sign the petition to be included in the RPP zone.  Yet because SFTMA decided to reduce the maximum permit allocations from four permits per RPP household to two after the original petitions were submitted, Wilson said the petitions would be re-opened until May 17.

That means residents who previously voted yes on the RPP proposal, but who now disapprove of the proposed change, could use this opportunity to change their votes from Yes to No.

Meanwhile, Wilson said, northwest Bernal residents who previously voted No, or didn’t vote at all, now have until May 17 to sign the petition to get their street included in the new RPP.

If at this point you’re wondering, “Since SFMTA seems hell-bent on on implementing the northwest Bernal RPP, who would possibly vote now to remove their own street from the RPP zone?” — well, you’re right to wonder that. At this point, simple self-interest dictates that keeping your street in the new RPP is the rational thing to do. (cf. The Prisoner’s Dilemma)

And likewise, if you previously voted No to the RPP, but would now like to change your vote to Yes, well, that’s also a very rational thing to do, because who wants to live on a non-RPP block right next to a street that’s part of the RPP program? When the RPP program is implemented in northwest Bernal, parking on streets included in the RPP zone may or may not get easier. But it’s quite certain that the establishment of the new RPP zone will make parking on non-RPP streets nearby significantly more difficult.  (cf. The Prisoner’s Dilemma)

Of course, if you didn’t attend Hank Wilson’s community meeting on April 19, you probably wouldn’t know any of this.  To date, SFMTA hasn’t sent out postcards to northwest Bernal residents informing them of the re-opened petition, and SFMTA’s Northwest Bernal Heights Parking Pilot website hasn’t been updated to explain the outcome of last week’s community meeting or to indicate the new petition deadline.

And beyond that?

Sometime after May 17, SFMTA will release the tallies of the re-re-revised block-by-block petitions. With the final list of RPP blocks in hand, SFMTA will then push the northwest Bernal RPP proposal through the legislative process.

Because SFMTA is treating northwest Bernal RPP as an experiment,  it will require approval by the full SFMTA board of directors as a calendar item at an upcoming SFMTA board meeting (exact date TBD).  By all indications, this is likely to be a rubber-stamp gesture; Hank Wilson told the crowd at his Bernal Heights community meeting that he has never heard of an instance where the SFMTA board voted against an RPP proposal.

Wednesday: Community Meeting on Controversial SFMTA Parking Permit Plan

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On Wednesday evening the SFMTA will hold a community meeting about the agency’s much-debated plan to implement an experimental residential parking permit (RPP) system in northwest Bernal Heights. The meeting will happen on Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30 pm at Flynn Elementary School (3125 Cesar Chavez Street).

The postcard SFMTA sent to neighbors living in the proposed Northwest Bernal RPP zone says:

The SFMTA and Northwest Bernal Heights Residents invite you to a public meeting to discuss permit parking in Northwest Bernal Heights.

Residents on the following blocks have voted with over 51 percent to move forward with residential permit parking in Bernal Heights: Mirabel and Montezuma, Shotwell (1400-1599), Prospect (1-99), Esmeralda (200-299), Coso (1-299), Precita (1-299), Coleridge (1-99), Winfield (1-99), Lundy’s Lane (1-16) and Powers.

Please join use to hear details about next steps in the permit process, which includes a discussion about how this will affect residents in the area.

The Northwest Bernal RPP proposal, which started as a routine petition drive in 2015, has since become a polarizing exercise in  bungled communication, ad hoc rulemaking, and bureaucratic unaccountability.

After RPP petitions were collected from Bernal neighbors in 2016, SFMTA officials decided  Bernal Heights would become the test site for an experimental parking permit regime that de-emphasizes the impact of parking by non-Bernal residents to focus instead on curtailing parking by adjacent Bernal residents and restricting the number of parking permits each household may obtain within the RPP zone. Under the SFMTA’s experimental system for northwest Bernal, RPP permits would be limited to one RPP permit per driver, with a maximum of two RPP permits issued per household.

Source: SFMTA

Advocates for the RPP zone say parking in northwest Bernal has become increasingly competitive because of daytime parking by non-residents, long-term parking by travelers, and residents who park in the street while using their garages for storage.

Opponents say SFMTA’s plan to use northwest Bernal as a test site was not disclosed in the original RPP petition drive, which renders those petitions invalid. After the petitions were received, SFMTA altered the requirements used to determine is whether a neighborhood qualifies to become a new RPP zone while repeatedly declining requests to define their new requirements. The agency has also faced allegations that SFMTA officials colluded inappropriately with RPP supporters by sharing private emails with RPP petition organizers.

As Bernalwood wrote last month:

The SFMTA is moving ahead with plans to use Bernal Heights as the site of an experimental Residential Parking Permit (RPP) scheme that will no longer emphasize preventing non-residents from parking on neighborhood streets. Instead, under the new system, the RPP program will also seek to limit the number of cars residents can park on the streets of their own neighborhood.

As previously reported, the SFMTA’s Bernal parking survey showed that roughly 70% of the cars parked on northwest Bernal streets on a typical weekday afternoon likely belong to other Bernal Heights residents. Under SFMTA’s longstanding rules, at least 50% of parked cars would have to belong to non-residents in order to establish a new RPP zone.

Yet after some residents organized a petition drive last year to establish a new RPP zone in northwest Bernal, the SFMTA moved its own goalposts. The 50% non-resident requirement was quietly disregarded, but SFMTA has not explained what the updated criteria for establishing a new RPP zone will be.

For current information about the Bernal RPP proposal, visit SFMTA’s Northwest Bernal Heights Residential Permit Parking Pilot page.

PHOTO: Top, by Telstar Logistics