Creative Parking Options

Since becoming the Executive Director for the Central Eastside Industrial Council this fall, I've learned a lot (more) about parking--specifically, the provision of parking. As many of you know, the Central Eastside is parking-challenged. Lots of people work and enjoy the District and that makes for parking challenges.  Luckily, Portland is not alone in these challenges, and San Francisco has been working and refining on what SFpark promotes as dynamic parking pricing.

SFpark is pioneering parking management using demand-responsive pricing to make parking easier for urban dwellers in San Francisco, while reducing emissions due to circling for parking.  They call it, “Circle less, live more,” SFpark manages parking demand in San Francisco by collecting and distributing real-time information about where parking is available. Data is available via their website and through open sourced apps available on a variety of formats.  In order to determine the right price to charge for parking to meet the parking space availability targets, SFpark employed wireless sensors to detect parking space occupancy in metered spaces. Since completing the pilot and evaluation in 2014, the sensors are no longer used, but have been replaced with meter data and app data.

To help achieve the right level of parking availability, sfpark periodically adjusts meter and garage rates. As of December of 2015, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) was seeking approval to carry out its 17th demand-responsive rate adjustment at on-street SFpark parking meters. In this 17th rate adjustment, meter rates will adjust either up or down or stay the same depending on the metered hour. That's 17 modifications since launching in 2011.

The aim is to reduce double parking and the time distracted drivers circle looking for parking. An evaluation completed in 2014 noted that:

  • Average parking rates were lower
  • Parking availability improved
  • It is easier to find a parking space
  • It is easier to pay and avoid parking citations
  • Greenhouse gas emissions decreased
  • Vehicle miles traveled decreased

An additional benefit included fewer parking violations--although this might also be attributed to the "Pay by Phone" benefit.

To learn more about about the program, check out this short video!

Note: My opinions and information expressed in this blog are my own and are not meant to reflect those of my clients or project partners.