How is this coming Sunday in San Francisco different from all other previous Sundays in San Francisco?
January 6 will be the first Sunday in history during which all of the city's parking meters will be fully operational from noon until 6 p.m., just like they are Monday through Saturday.
Certain parts of the city, such as Fisherman's Wharf, already charge for parking seven days a week.
While the city's largest business group, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, supports the move, many local businesses are concerned that activating meters on Sundays could hurt their bottom lines.
"This isn't going to help small businesses at all," Jesse Fink, president of the Clement Street Merchants Association and owner of the ice cream and novelty shop Toy Boat, told the San Francisco Examiner. "This is another reason why shoppers will go to big malls like Serramonte instead of business districts."
The expansion of the city's parking meters to seven days a week was approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency last spring and is expected to bring an additional $1.7 million per year into the coffers of the deficit-plagued agency.
However, SFMTA has downplayed any financial benefit the city might get from Sunday meters. Instead, the shift is more about promoting a higher turnover rate of parking spots.
"Back in the 1940s [when the city's parking meter program was first established], most businesses were closed on Sundays, so there was no need for metering…But now it's just like a Saturday, with businesses open and plenty of traffic," SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose explained to the San Francisco Chronicle. "This isn't meant to be a revenue program, it's meant to improve parking management throughout the city."
Many in the city's religious community voiced concerns about parishioners having to leave in the middle of services to feed the meter. "It will be devastating if we have to worry about time constraints," Reverend Karen Oliveto of the Glide Memorial Church told the Examiner. "The entire essence of Glide would be undermined."
As a result, SFMTA has said it will adjust the city's "smart" parking meters so they can start accepting money early in the morning even though they don't click on until noon.
To help San Franciscans gradually get used to the change, SFMTA won't be issuing any tickets for people who forget to feed meters on Sundays until January 27.
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