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Parking Meters Still a Prickly Issue
By Kathy Dalle-Molle
Don't expect to see parking meters on 24th Street between Castro and Diamond any time soon.
Following a heated, hour-long Oct. 27 hearing in which five members of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association spoke in favor of installing 14 meters along the 4100 block of 24th Street and 12 members of the newly formed Noe Valley Residents and Professionals Association (NVRPA) argued against meters, Department of Parking and Traffic Hearing Officer Jocelyn Kane sent the two groups back to the drawing board, admonishing them "to be polite to one another and go try again."
"This is the third hearing we've had on this matter," said an aggravated Kane. "I don't know how this ended up to be such a disaster."
Kane threw out the most recent proposal, which was drafted at an August meeting of merchants, residents, and DPT engineers. The plan called for four green 10-minute meters in front of Barney's, Tom's Peasant Pies, and Mailboxes, Etc., and seven two-hour meters on the south side of 24th Street between Rory's Twisted Scoop and Miss Millie's Restaurant. It also called for adding three more meters on the north side of 24th Street from Tropical Island to the Diamond Corner Café, and for reducing the frequency of street cleaning on the entire block.
"Hate me if you want," Kane said, "but I cannot approve anything because there is still opposition, and if I forward this matter to the Parking Commission, they're just going to hear the same [lack of consensus] from you."
Kane also wanted it made clear to both groups that "this is not a victory for anyone." Noting an obvious chill in the air between members of the Merchants Association and the NVRPA -- each sat on opposite sides of the hearing room-- Kane advised that "I hope that the next time I see you, you'll be sitting closer together and be more friendly toward one another. There's a war where there shouldn't be. This is just silly. Colloquially, I'm going to ask you to get over it."
Since the hearing, the two groups have started negotiations to reach a compromise. But at press time, talks were at a standstill. "The merchants have a lot going on right now," said Merchants Association President Bob Roddick. "The holidays are our busiest time of the year."
As reported in the November 2001 Voice, the Merchants Association wants meters installed to encourage more parking turnover on 24th Street and thus make life easier for car-driving customers. Meanwhile, members of the NVPRA say that finding a parking space is difficult enough as it is and that meters will only aggravate the situation by bringing more cars into the neighborhood.
"[The 4100 block of 24th Street] is primarily a residential street, except for a cluster of shops near Castro," said 25-year resident Steve Rubin at the Oct. 27 hearing. "Noe Valley merchants have no right to request this change."
But Carol Yenne, proprietor of Small Frys, begs to differ. "I've lived here for 30 years and own a store on 24th Street, and I can tell you there is more business in the neighborhood now. Having more business is a great thing, but it's created a problem with parking. There is not enough turnover on this block."