Its Crunch Time in San Francisco and in Don Shoup’s office


Its Crunch Time in San Francisco and in Don Shoup’s office

I give Baghdad by the Bay a lot of trouble. I complain about this and that, call them names, and generally tell the world they are parking dunderheads. Today I have to eat some crow.

Jay Primus, head of the new SFpark, sent an email today announcing the first rate change based on their new SFpark operation. They are collecting data, anylizing it, and then increasing or decreasing the rate based on the Shoupista 85% rule — that there should be a 15% vacancy in each parking area so people cruiding can easily find spaces. Shoup’s Goldilocks theory states that if the prices are to high, there will be too many spaces available, and if they are too low, there won’t be any available. The prices have to be “Just right.”

The rules in San Francisco are that they will change the rates only once a month and then only by 25c a go. So the changes will be gradual. It may take a few months to see the effect.

And that’s what we are all waiting for, the effect. If you go here you can download the stats and maps and see what they are doing.  They are raising the prices on about a third of their spaces, lowering on a third, and keeping the numbers the same on the rest.

This SFPark operation is the first real full scale test of one third of Shoup’s theory.  About 7,000 spaces are covered by sensors in the test, with 5100 having single space credit card meters and the rest monitored by multispace meters.

Its one thing to sit here, like I do, and pontificate on how market based rates will work by reducing cruising and increasing (or decreasing) revenue.  And that raising prices will provide more space and lowering them will fill the empties. Should work. But who knows — there are variables we don’t know about on street.

Let’s face it,  someone driving down the street doesn’t know the prices.  They have to be learned. Its not like gasoline where the prices are stuck on a post with two foot high letters. How long will it take for the spaces to fill or become more empty. Do the same people park there often enough to be affected by the pricing.

My guess. If you tested one city block it wouldn’t work. But if you tested 7000 spaces you should be able to spot a trend. I’m sure the Shoup Dogg is keeping a weather eye on this one.  I know I am

Kudos to Jay and his crew.  There were doubts he would make it this far. I’m happy to report that they are making headway.


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John Van Horn

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