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Modernizing San Francisco's Parking Meter Hours

SFMTA.com/ModernMeterHours
Project Introduction

San Francisco uses parking meters to create available parking in commercial districts and high-demand neighborhoods. Though life in the city has changed dramatically over the decades, San Francisco’s parking meter hours have not changed in most neighborhoods since the first meters were installed in 1947: Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Extending parking meter hours will expand parking availability on more days and at more times and will benefit all those who live, shop, worship and work in San Francisco. Charging for the use of parking spaces during the evening and on Sundays makes it easier for those who must drive to find parking, while also providing funding to maintain vital Muni services.

Our data shows that parking meters are effective: when meters turn off at 6:00 p.m., parking availability drops significantly. When San Francisco tried out Sunday parking meters in 2013, parking availability was substantially improved. Most commercial districts in San Francisco continue operating well past 6:00 p.m., and Sundays resemble Saturdays in terms of business activity in most neighborhoods. Because most commercial districts report low levels of parking availability in the evenings and Sundays, it makes sense to extend the hours that parking meters are active in order to address this and support local businesses. This project will extend parking meters hours into the evenings and on Sundays, beginning in neighborhoods where they will have the most impact, and where support from local stakeholders is strong.

The graphic on the left shows that parking occupancy is very high (between 80-90%) during unmetered hours Monday-Saturday. During metered hours it is much lower (between 60-70%). The graphic on the right shows the opposite pattern in effect on Sundays between noon and 6 p.m. A bar goes across the top of both graphs showing the Target Occupancy, which is about 65-85%.

Project Timeline 
Spring 2020
SFMTA Board of Directors directed staff to explore extending meter hours
Completed
Summer 2020-Summer 2021
Outreach to merchant groups, neighborhood groups and faith leaders
Pending
Summer 2021
Expected implementation of extended meter hours in initial neighborhoods
Pending
Date TBD
Expected implementation of extended meter hours in remaining neighborhoods
Pending
Project Status
Planning
Legislated

Why now? 

Curb space demand has been increasing over the past few years with neighbors prioritizing uses other than parking, and we only foresee that demand growing, especially as the city emerges from the pandemic. The resulting reduction in parking supply means that we must work even harder to manage the parking spaces that remain, and extending parking meter hours of operation is the city’s best tool to do so. 

Outreach and implementation 

In spring 2020, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved a two-year budget that directs staff to explore when and where extended metering hours would be appropriate.  SFMTA staff began meeting with merchant groups, neighborhood groups and faith leaders in late summer 2020, and outreach to merchant and neighborhood groups, elected officials, faith leaders and citywide business groups will continue into summer 2021.  Our next step is to determine the neighborhood commercial districts that would like to be first in line to test the benefits of adjusting meter times to match when their businesses are open. We expect to seek approval from the SFMTA Board of Directors and implement extended meter hours in neighborhoods starting in summer 2021. 

Some SF neighborhoods, and many other cities, have adjusted their parking meter hours to match when businesses are open 

Some neighborhoods already have meter hours that match the times that businesses are active: as of September 2020, parking meters run into the evenings in Fisherman’s Wharf (7:00 p.m.), Potrero Hill and Mission Bay (10:00 p.m.) and the northern and eastern waterfronts (11:00 p.m.).  Parking meters in Fisherman’s Wharf and the northern and eastern waterfront also operate on Sundays. 

San Francisco is not alone - many cities in California operate their parking meters until 8:00 p.m. or later during evenings, including Los Angeles, Walnut Creek, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach and even South San Francisco. Across the United States, cities as varied as Seattle, New York City, Boston and many others operate parking meters on evenings and/or Sundays. 

We want to hear from you

As we determine project scope and roll-out, we want to hear from you. Please use the contact information below to contact the Extended Meter Hours team with your feedback. 

Contact Information
Extended Meter Hours Project
415.646.2228