Coins Won't Cut It at This $18 Parking Meter

Parking in Hayes Valley could cost $18 an hour

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    SFMTA

    San Francisco has long been notorious for the difficulty in finding street parking, but a new pilot program hopes to change that.

    The good news is that the meters will accept credit and debit cards. The bad news for motorists is that they'll need one -- while some spots will be as cheap as 50 cents an hour, others will be as much as $18 an hour during peak times, such as big events.

    For the most part, however, prices will peak at $6 an hour, still a big jump from the current top rate of $3.50 an hour.  The SFpark is expected to increase tolls collected and ultimately city revenue, however it's also estimated to reduce the number of citations issued and fines collected.

    The costs will be switched around from spot to spot to see what price point manages to keep 15 percent of spots open on a given block. Sensors will track if a space is taken or not, and the prices will be changed from month to month to observe patterns.

    So if you thought finding a spot in San Francisco is a rat race, well, consider drivers now in a maze and being tested by urban scientists.

    The first new meters are set for the Hayes Valley neighborhood, but a total of 5,100 parking spots in eight areas will eventually be priced under the new scheme.

    It's also hoped that keeping a handful of spots open will reduce the waste of driving in circles looking for parking, and nearby city-owned parking lots will also tie into the system.

    By next year, drivers should be able to find spots and compare prices online using a mobile device. Because everyone knows how safe it is to fiddle with iPhone apps while driving.

    Of course, the most elegant solution to the City's parking problem is not to drive, but Americans are so attached to their automobiles that they're willing to tolerate almost anything rather than kick the habit.

    Photo by Orin Zebest

    Jackson West never pays a cent to park his bike.