Meter Madness: SFMTA Announces Parking Price Changes

SFMTA Meters GraphicStarting tomorrow, August 28th, the City agency in charge of setting fees at all SF street parking meters, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), has announced a rate changing pilot program in large swathes of multiple neighborhoods.

Good News: the Castro has been spared this round of rate hikes.  Bad News: we might not be so lucky next time. Real(ity) News: you need a City Planning degree to understand the new rate plan and keep track of where it’s in effect.

The neighborhoods who’ll feel the pinch in the pocketbook during this first round of SFMTA’s fee hike/decrease street meter experiment are City Hall/Civic Center, The Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Mission/Valencia corridor and the Mission Bay/ATT Park.

These neighborhoods/geographic areas historically draw large amounts of tourists to them and it’s been deduced parking meter turn over occurs at higher rates due a variety of reasons like quick trips for shopping or hit and run sightseeing jaunts.

Price changes were described via an SFMtA email as follows:

  • Rates will decrease by .25¢ or .50¢ per hour at 18% of metered hours.
  • Rates will stay the same at 62% of metered hours.
  • Rates will increase by .25¢ at 20% of metered hours.
A sample snap of the SFMTA pdf map and legend created by the City  to help one understand the new meter increase, decrease, stay the same project.

A sample snap of the SFMTA pdf map and legend created by the City to help one understand the new meter increase, decrease, stay the same project.

Also included was a handy color coded PDF with maps and charts to help one determine the cost increase and, in some spots, savings the average car driver will face trying to negotiate public meters in the effected areas.

Bottom line: even with the legends things will remain expensive. The cost of a meter in some areas going up to as high as $5.75 per hour.  Also it’s reasonable to assume with these new increases comes a heightened meter maid presence If you would like even more detailed info on how this all rate changes will work a downloadable spread sheet has also been offered up.

As with all SFMTA plans, if success is noted, a ripple of change generally follows and many tourist heavy neighborhoods like the Castro could perhaps be next to see a pilot program introduced as well. We’ll keep you informed, but, until then keep your hungry meter fed or better yet bike the City or use MUNI. Save cash, get exercise in one instance and leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet in both.

Waiyde Palmer

Waiyde Palmer loves San Francisco, social activism and punk rock(ers). His work has appeared in Handbook Magazine. SF Bay Times, The Advocate, Diseased Pariah News and American Music Press . He also has an extensive and repeatedly redacted FBI file.

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6 Responses

  1. I wouldn’t mind a hike in parking rates. I think they’re too low here. The real cost of cheap parking is an ugly neighborhood choked with cars. Is there really an “average car driver” in SF? The average citizen is in a hurry on a slow Muni bus, and any revenue increase from driver to rider in California is poetic justice.

    The meters at 18th & Castro, and behind Zapata, are usually taken, yet the meters behind the CT are usually available. Therefore dynamic pricing would make sense here and I’m not sure one needs “a City Planning degree to understand” that.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  2. rblack says:

    I thought when these new meters were installed they were supposed to be “smart” and that their rates would change based on time of day, how many people were using them etc…

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Sasha says:

      They do indeed. I think the rates quoted in this article are peak rates. The idea is that the city can fine-tune the rates to find a price at which one spot is available per block. This reduces the environmental impact of people driving around in circles looking for parking, and ensures that people using city-maintained streets to drive and park personal vehicles are compensating the city a reasonable amount for that street maintenance.
      More info at

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  3. Chris says:

    Variable pricing is just fine – but when you do have to shell out for metered parking, you might expect a little more from the PayByPhone system the SFMTA has allowed on all parking meters in the city.

    Apparently making it “easier to pay for parking helps people avoid parking tickets.” This sounds great, in theory – and it is certainly convenient – but given the system does not actually update the status of the physical meters:

    1) Meter maids, who have to manually check the status of each meter on their machines, often provide tickets in error to those who have actually paid via the app. Of course, it isn’t PayByPhone’s problem, so you’re on your own to contest the ticket (if you even bother to) which takes a letter and a few weeks’ time.

    2) There’s no more ‘paying it forward’ – i.e. there’s no way to know that meters are already paid for, so parkers simply double-up (or triple-up, etc.) on paying for the same space.

    All the while, PayByPhone continues to collect their 45c fees each time. Anyone know how they were selected to be the service of choice for the SFMTA?

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