Demand for residential parking permits outpaces available spaces


San Francisco is facing a dilemma with its Residential Parking Permit program.

The program, which the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency oversees, may soon be overhauled to address issuing too many parking permits for too few parking spaces and addressing parking issues in mixed-use neighborhoods.

Transit officials last Friday presented two pilot proposals at the SFMTA Policy and Governance Committee – one in Bernal Heights and another pilot in the Dogpatch.

Kathryn Studwell, SFMTA program manager of the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) program, said the transit agency will test out the pilots to measure if they improve parking availability in the neighborhoods and see how residents in the pilots react first before going citywide with the proposals.

One pilot the transit agency is proposing is on the northwest side of Bernal Heights, where the parking occupancy averages around 90 percent on weekdays and weekends, according to SFMTA documents.

The pilot would cap the number of permits from four permits per household to one permit per driver and two permits per household.

In survey conducted by the SFMTA, 95 percent of residents own a private vehicle in the area, but nearly 50 percent of homes do not have off-street parking, said Studwell:

“Bernal is unique. It’s tiny little streets, buildings built before the age of the auto.”

Another different pilot the SFMTA is proposing is in Dogpatch – an area where residents, businesses and merchants all collide together.

Studwell said the transit agency has a parking permit program in the neighborhood, but said it can create tension between residents and businesses.

Current parking woes also involve Muni’s T-Third line, said Studwell:

“People are parking in the Dogpatch and hoping on the T or they’re parking in the Dogpatch and getting on Caltrain at 22nd.”

The proposed pilot would charge motorists who do not have permit parking sticker, but want to park in a permitted space, said Studwell:

“So what we want to do is price this so that it discourages people from parking in the neighborhood.”

Motorists without parking permit stickers would be able to pay by mobile or by using a multi-space parking meter.

The pilot would also include capping the number of permitted parking permits for Dogpatch residents.

Both Bernal Heights and Dogpatch parking permit pilots would need to go before the SFMTA Board of Directors before staff can implement the pilots.

Studwell said she plans get the Bernal Heights pilot to the Board of Directors for approval sometime in the summer.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay and covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a San Francisco native and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Follow Jerold on Twitter @jerold_chinn. Email tips to

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