San Francisco Considers Surge Parking Prices

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Big changes for San Francisco parking are in the works. The city is looking to implement dynamic pricing at metered parking spots in several neighborhoods. This is a trend we keep seeing all over parking news. What does it really mean? Dynamic pricing, also referred to surge pricing or demand pricing, is a strategy in which you can set flexible prices for products/services based on current market demands. An example, parking rates may be $6.00 per hour during the day and then become $5.00 per hour after 7pm or on weekends and so on.  

The dynamic pricing strategy is already in effect in San Francisco.  The bay bridges charge an extra $1.00 per hour during peak periods. During the Giants games, parking near AT&T Park surges to $7.00 per hour. The theory behind this strategy is to save time and effort when searching for a spot. This also alleviates frustration and congestion in busy city centers. “A 2014 study led by a UC Santa Cruz professor found that San Francisco’s previous efforts to match the price of public parking with real-time demand had led to a drastic reduction in cruising for spots.” 

There are some critics of this strategy.  Henry Karnilowicz of the District Merchants Association is one of them. Karnilowicz said, “I don’t see how it is going to make the turnover any different, just because you are increasing the price.” John Nazzal, a deli owner located in one of the proposed neighborhoods also shares this belief. Nazzal said, “A lot of my friends and customers tell me that the reason they don’t come in anymore is that they don’t want to spend $2 or $3 to get a sandwich.”  

The new plan calls for parking rates as high as $8.00 an hour. The prices will fluctuate depending on the time of day or special events in the area. Supervisor Jeff Sheehey said, “It just starts out with the assumption that everybody in San Francisco is rich.” Transportation planners, say critics are missing the point. Muni Spokesman Paul Rose said, “We are trying to make it easier and faster to find parking spaces in San Francisco.” 

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