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Residential Parking Permits

The Belle Air neighborhood has long had issues with the auto repair businesses on San Bruno Ave using our residential streets as storage for vehicles held for service, as well as issues with car-share drivers using the neighborhood as staging for work at the airport.  All of this could be cleared up if permits were required to park in the neighborhood, and those permits were only available to residents.

For a few years, the city has had, in theory, a system by which a citizen can request a Residential Parking Permit Program to be implemented for their neighborhood. Unfortunately, this process is so cumbersome that thus far it has not been used anywhere.

The process has two problems. One is that the person interested in starting the program has to do the leg-work to get signatures from fully 50% of all addresses in the affected area.  This is an unreasonably high burden just to start the process.

Second, the way the process is designed, permits are tied to specific vehicles, by way of the license plate. Enforcement will use Automated License Plate Readers — so the enforcement officer would cruise through with the ALPR, and ticket vehicles recognized as not having a permit. However, the city is forbidden from issuing more permits than there are spaces, which means if a household has four cars — say, two parents plus a 17-year-old high schooler and a 20-year-old who’s still living at home and attending Skyline College — and normally they park two off-street (driveway and/or garage), and two on-street, and normally that shuffles around depending on people’s schedules, or once in a blue moon they want to put all four on-street for a few hours, well, they’re kind of out of luck.

In many cities, RPPPs are designed so that either a permit can be transferred between vehicles, or the permits are priced a bit lower, but a household can get a permit for each of their vehicles, on the understanding that they won’t actually have every vehicle on-street at all times. When I have discussed this with city staff, they were quite frank that the reason the program was designed this way was simply because they don’t want to deal with complaints in the event that somebody with a permit can’t find a spot. Even though the program is explicit that even under the current design, a permit is not a guarantee of finding a spot. It simply guarantees that if you do park, you won’t be ticketed.

If elected, I will push for a pilot program to try out a RPPP, perhaps in the area most affected by overflow parking from the auto businesses on San Bruno Avenue. Research and modeling, built on what was already done in 2017-19, may be necessary, but I would expect a model with progressively higher fees, for an increasing number of vehicles, will make sense. This may also help address issues we’ve seen with certain households keeping numerous inoperable vehicles. We’ll need to figure out exactly how that logic applies to multi-unit buildings, and make sure that future small-plexes and apartments either include adequate off-street parking, or actually market to tenants who either live car-free or use share services like ZipCar, and thus don’t expect to need parking permits.

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Auros Harman for San Bruno Council
District 4 2022 FPPC # 1449270
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