SF warns that it is going to balance the budget by writing more parking tickets


SF warns that it is going to balance the budget by writing more parking tickets

Yep – Baghdad by the Bay is down a few million and has said it’s going to make up the difference by getting tough on those overstaying their parking and writing more tickets. The city (Actually the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency) had budgeted an income of $99 million from parking tickets and it seems the budget is about $21 million short so what to do what to do? Simple – don’t find a way to lower expenses $21 million, simply increase revenue by writing more parking tickets.

I wonder about this. What they are admitting is that there are literally tens of thousands of people in San Francisco that are parking illegally and the enforcement folks simply hadn’t gotten around to finding them. However, now, because they need more money, they are going to clamp down on these horrible scofflaws and clean up the parking problem in the city.

I just wonder what would happen if they were successful. What if, for instance, that by increasing enforcement, they lower the rate of violations? It seems to work with other crimes. If the cops concentrate their efforts on say, drug sales in a particular area, the incidence of that activity decreases. What is the city going to do if the good people of San Francisco decide to start obeying the law and park legally? Where are they going to get their money then?

They are installing parking meters that take credit cards. It’s a known fact that when you do so, the incidence of people who receive citations for expired meters goes down. Why? Well when a person had to put quarters in the meter and didn’t have enough, often they simply took a risk that they wouldn’t be caught. However credit cards are different. People pay the full rate to ensure they won’t be ticketed.

You might say, super. Instead of parking tickets, revenue will be increased by people paying more to park. It doesn’t work that way. Adding a couple of bucks for parking doesn’t replace a $50 citation. A number of cities have found that they have to rethink their business model when credit cards are involved in the process.

They need to rethink completely their parking policy. They have a great idea with their SF Park concept. Their marketing is super. But what are they going to do if the new program works as advertised and the people of San Francisco actually embrace the program.

So SF has two conflicting issues – They need more money and are planning to write more tickets to get it, and at the same time, they are installing equipment that will reduce the incidence of folks overstaying the money they put in the meters. By increasing enforcement they may be able to hold their own, but a 20% increase, I don’t think so.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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