Golden Gate Parking Lot: San Francisco Conducts First Ever Parking Census

Over the past 18 months, San Francisco engaged in the first known parking census of any major city.  The city painstakingly counting every publicly available space, on-street and off, metered and free.

They discovered that on-street parking comprises 940 acres of valuable land in one of the most expensive cities in the country, almost as much as one of the city’s most revered spaces: Golden Gate Park (1,017 acres).

There are 441,541 parking spaces and of those, over 280,000 are on-street spaces, 25,000 of which are metered. And the rest are free.

Donald Shoup, the main authority on parking and land use in the U.S. had this to say:

“One surprising result is that 72 percent of all the publicly-available parking spaces in the city are free,” he said. “In San Francisco, housing is expensive for people but free for most cars.”

Let's just pave everything, there will be a car here eventually

If San Francisco began charging an absurdly low rate of $5/day ($.20 an hour) for each of the 250,000 free on-street spaces, that would bring in a revenue of $1,250,000 per day.

Of course they wouldn’t all be full, all the time, but if even half of the spaces were full, that would be $625,000 per day and $228,125,000 annually. I believe the potential revenue waiting in parking is pronounced Two Hundred Twenty Eight Million, One Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Dollars. Two Hundred Twenty Eight Million Dollars. Wow.

Meanwhile, San Francisco is facing a massive budget shortfall of $522.2 million and has taken some draconian measures to make up this money, such as the recent firing of 15,000 city employees, which was expected to save only $50 million. Explaining the layoffs — moving city employees from the payrolls to the unemployment rolls — Mayor Gavin Newsom said “We’re actually doing everything to avoid layoffs.”

No, he’s not. Charge for parking, keep people employed, and keep the city working.

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