Noe Valley Voice October 1997

City Rejects Parking Permit Zone

By Joe Franklin

The drive to bring permit parking to Noe Valley has reached a dead end -- at least for the time being.

In mid-August the city's Department of Parking and Traffic declined to process a petition that would have established a two-hour parking zone in the residential area bounded by Dolores, Clipper, Douglass, and Alvarado streets. Cars without special stickers would have been ticketed if they'd parked longer than two hours.

According to an Aug. 14 letter from DPT Director Bill Maher to Ron Olsen -- the Jersey Street resident who headed the petition campaign -- the city rejected the plan because it lacked the wholehearted support of the neighborhood.

"We realize many hours were spent in gathering over 300 signatures on your petition, and it certainly meets the requirements to start the permit parking process," Maher wrote, "but we have received a counterpetition with about 200 signatures objecting to your proposal for the Noe Valley area.

"Even though these signatures do not meet the 250 required to overturn the proposal," he continued, "we must take this opposition into consideration."

Maher also suggested that if Noe Valley came up with a compromise proposal that satisfied the majority of residents, the city would gladly consider it.

Meanwhile, Castro Street attorney Robert Roddick, who was waiting for a judgment on the two-hour permit issue before he resubmitted his own idea to the DPT, says he is ready to spring into action.

"Now that the residential permit zone has been put to rest, I'll be asking the DPT to start the process for public hearings on diagonal parking," says Roddick, who is current president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.

Roddick maintains that dozens of parking spaces will be gained by switching to diagonal parking on some of the streets that cross 24th Street. "The goal is simple," he says, "to get more parking for residents in the commercial area while using an idea that is beneficial to those who work and shop here as well."

Roddick has authored a petition, now signed by about 1,200 people, in favor of diagonal parking on Castro Street from Clipper to 24th. He is also promoting a plan that would convert Muni bus zones to sidewalk pedestrian "bubbles."

"We're trying to eliminate hazards and increase the number of pedestrian-friendly sidewalks," he says. "Studies show that diagonal parking makes a more pedestrian-friendly environment by [creating] a bigger buffer zone" between pedestrians and cars.

That may be so, but it won't necessarily solve the parking squeeze for those who live near 24th Street. In the eyes of permit zone advocate Ron Olsen, it might even make matters worse.

"The more parking you put in, the more people will come in to use that parking," Olsen says. "The J-Church riders and the No. 24-line riders will drive their cars more. When I did my signature-gathering, I was told by residents that this was happening. Since then, I have personally witnessed it. It's happening. It's real."

According to Olsen, lots of people drive to 24th Street because they don't want to hike the steep hills in the neighborhood. Downtown office workers also park their cars here and hop on the J-Church streetcar to commute to jobs in the Financial District.

As long as there are no restrictions on parking, he argues, side streets such as Jersey, Alvarado, and Clipper will be deluged with workday commuters. "We need to come up with something," Olsen says, "but right now I just don't know what that something is going to be."