Somebody recently asked me, "So, when you were a kid, and you were playing with trucks and cars in the sandbox, were you parallel parking all of your hotwheels?" I told her that I have memories of controlled vehicle chaos in the sandbox like other kids...but with an occasional explosion to give the Tonka ambulance and fire-truck something to do. So upon reflection, even then, I was afflicted with the childhood version of parking anxiety, and intermittent explosive disorder.
Maybe it's because I'm type 9 on the Enneagram, am a practicing psychotherapist, drive a car in San Francisco, and love the challenge of solving problems. In my days as a sculptor, my art seemed to be about taking a seemingly negative event, and finding the inevitable beauty that is born from it. What better problem to solve, and what more negative of an event to transform than the frustration, suffering, and anxiety produced when one is looking for a parking spot in San Francisco. Could I make that easy, and possibly fun?
I think that the book is still a valuable tool, but when people are reading in the bathroom, they typically are already securely parked, and reading while driving, along with driving while on the hopper, are both not recommended.
SFPark created this amazing technology with sensors under the pavement of 19,250 parking spots. It knows when the spots are vacant. This information is made available to anyone with a smartphone. The information is awesome, but it still required you to read a map while driving. So, I thought, why don't they make it so it tells you where there is available parking by voice, so you can just drive?
After a few months, it didn't happen, so I thought I'd see if they would let me take a crack at it. Surprisingly, they said yes. I found out something very, very cool about our City. After doing the yeoman's work and all of the heavy lifting, they then allowed a public citizen like me to use my creativity to make their great thing even better and more user friendly. This is your government at work. Everyone I spoke with truly held the attitude that they were a public servant. They were polite, helpful, and extremely encouraging. What they did was akin to giving artists the license to create art on public billboards (which actually would be a cool idea).
I got to play with a 20 million dollar tool that took hundreds of thousands of hours to build, and now, so do you.
It's a free app for now and comes with a money back guarantee, but I think you'll be satisfied. I've simplified it to 1, 2, 3:
1. Launch the app when nearing your destination
2. Push the big green button
3. Be guided by voice to the nearest parking spot (make sure your volume is on).
It recalculates every 8 seconds and will guide you to the absolute closest spot available. It won't bring you to a yellow zone if it's not a legal spot. If somebody snags the spot before you get there, it will find the next one. If on your route to a spot, a closer one becomes available, it will re-calculate and guide you to that spot without you even knowing that it did that.
Once you're parked, remember to follow all of the other rules that I've written about to avoid getting a ticket.
Right now it's available on the iPhone and iPod touch. The Android version will be out soon. There will be frequent updates as I enter in more data such as 30,000 more parking spaces which will be added to it in a couple of weeks. In a month, it will be available for 50 cities in the U.S.
It currently works in eight pilot areas covering 19,250 parking spots: Civic Center, Hayes Valley , The Financial District , SoMA, Fisherman's Wharf , Mission, Fillmore ,and the Marina.
It will cover all 28,000 meters in SF, and a total of 75,000 parking spots by the end of Summer.