'Performance parking' scheme stumbles in San Francisco

San Francisco's SFPark pilot program adjusted the rates of street parking meters to encourage people to park in less crowded areas. It hasn't quite worked out that way.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Location, location, location.

It's not just the mantra for where to live -- it's also the guiding theory behind where to park.

San Francisco's SFPark pilot program, which adjusted the rates of street parking meters higher for overcrowded blocks and lowered them for underused blocks, did little to change the habits of drivers, Michael Perkins writes over at the Greater Greater Washington blog.

He writes:

Each time San Francisco has adjusted the rates, the spread between the least expensive and the most expensive blocks has increased. After this latest adjustment, parking rates will vary from a low of $0.75 up to $4.25/hr. To date, the most crowded blocks have typically continued to be crowded even after adjusting the prices upward, while under-occupied blocks have not filled up even after dropping the price.

The results have officials questioning some of their initial assumptions about performance parking -- namely, the fundamental one that the price of parking is a strong enough factor in a driver's decision to park his or her car in a given area.

Still, it's not all bad. The new pricing structures could lead to side benefits, such as higher turnover or reduced time roving around in search of an open spot. More work must be done to find out, but it's clear that parking in non-residential neighborhoods is a means to an end, not the end itself.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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