SFMTA board votes to legalize median parking on Dolores Street in pilot program

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors today voted to legalize weekend median parking on Dolores Street in a pilot program intended to regulate the long-standing practice sometimes referred to as "parking for God."

The 16-month pilot program approved by the SFMTA board will allow parallel parking next to the median on sections of Dolores Street between 14th and 18th streets on Friday evening, Saturday morning and all day Sunday.

While weekend median parking has been a common practice on Dolores for decades, especially among those attending churches in the area, it has remained an illegal and largely unregulated practice until now.

The new program, which is expected to start in February or March, will include signs spelling out the hours when it is permitted, and eliminate some parking within intersections and at the end of medians to make it easier for emergency vehicles to get through, according to SFMTA staff.

It will also include a grace period at the beginning, to warn drivers of the changes, followed by several months of intense enforcement and ongoing monitoring to see how the program is working.

Many residents in the area oppose median parking, with one survey conducted by the SFMTA finding that 74 percent would support discontinuing it altogether. However, religious organizations and small businesses in the area are strongly in favor, as were 95 percent of those who worship in the area, according to SFMTA staff.

Stefan Lazar, the only area resident to address the board on the issue today, said that the plan seemed reasonable overall.

"While I would prefer no median parking, I realize a compromise here is necessary," Lazar said, adding that he would like to see the city help negotiate agreements for the shared use of parking lots at religious
institutions and schools in the area during the hours when they are empty to help alleviate parking issues.

SFMTA staff also plan to form a neighborhood advisory committee to provide feedback on the progress of the pilot program.