Outer Mission Residents Organizing to Improve Street Parking

Residents of the Outer Mission neighborhoods gathered over the summer to tackle the decreasing levels of street parking. Nancy Chan/Ingleside-Excelsior Light

Outer Mission community members came together to share their concerns about the constant lack of parking with San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency representatives at a Cayuga Improvement Association meeting.

Many Excelsior homes have between three to four cars per household, leading to roads with more cars than space. Compounding the problem is drivers from other areas parking in the Excelsior because San Francisco’s 72-hour parking rule, otherwise known as California Vehicle Code 22651, is enforced less.

As a result, drivers have deemed the Excelsior a “safer” neighborhood to avoid tickets.

“We enforce that on a complaint basis,” SFMTA Parking Enforcement Director Shawn McCormick said. “We’re not here to write as many tickets we can on a given day. It’s to improve the quality of life in a neighborhood and improve the economic situation.”

Dispatchers for San Francisco’s 311 do not actively patrol. They wait for requests, and according to John Stachnick, CIA’s president, the Outer Mission area reports the least to the SF311 app.

“The city bases need on 311 requests. We have need — we should be number one,” Stachnick said.

Stachnick makes reports whenever he’s able, having once done 100 reports over three weeks. He noted 96 of them were resolved.

“I’ll take photos for three or four blocks and they’ll cover 16,” Stachnick said. “A lot of things can be reported, whether it’s tree branches hanging too low or vandalized street signs. Some stop signs are sprayed so you can’t even read them.”

McCormick encouraged people to keep using SF311 to better identify recurring problem areas and create a record, calling it “[a more proactive] neighborhood-based reinforcement strategy.”

“When combined with SFMTA historical data, it helps extrapolate what happens,” McCormick said.

Others agreed about the importance of collecting data and having accountability to direct more resources.  Edward Stewart, a Philadelphia native and recent Excelsior resident, is optimistic about 311’s presence.

“The parking enforcement in downtown Philly is vicious. Obey the rules or get a ticket — you’ll get ticketed for parking in front of your own house five minutes after the hour,” Stewart said. “That doesn’t happen here. It was nice hearing him [McCormick] trying to find a balance between enforcement and response to a community’s needs.”

Nevertheless, 311 dispatch is likewise viewed with wariness. Renee Anderson, CIA treasurer, noted increased tensions between neighbors due to calling 311 on each other.

For older residents, using SF311 can be a struggle or out of the question because they use flip phones.

“Unlike Noe Valley or Eureka Valley, we’re not as engaged with technology,” said David Hooper, president of the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association. “If people are under 35, they consider a smartphone a necessity.”

To Hooper and the senior community, an active effort from 311 is a better service over individual reports.

Another detail tied with age is the actual households within the Excelsior.

“Many blocks in the Excelsior have older homes built as cottages in the 1900s,” Hooper said. “They have wide sidewalks, but sidewalks are for walking. They don’t have garages or driveways.”

Hooper observed that the Excelsior homes with garages have garages used as living spaces instead. Broadcast journalist Stanley Roberts made the same observation for his KRON4 segment “People Behaving Badly.”

This article appeared in the Ingleside-Excelsior Light’s September 2018 edition.

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