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San Franciscans Can Now Park for Free on Sundays Again

Scott Lucas | June 19, 2014 | Story

Drivers in San Francisco just caught a rare break—and the city decided to forgo a pretty sizable chunk of money—as the Sunday enforcement of parking meters was officially abandoned this week.

SFist has an insanely-detailed roundup of the events behind the creation and the controversial abandoment of charging drivers for street parking at meters on Sunday afternoons. Like many things in city politics, Sunday meters are a fractal—the closer you look, the more complicated it gets.

But the basic outline is this: Back in 2012 the Muni system faced a $20 million budget shortfall, so they decided to begin meter enforcement on Sundays. Starting in 2013, those meters generated just above $3 million in revenue in the first year and over $6 million overall, much of which came in the form of parking tickets. Not enough to make up the gap, but a sizable amount nonetheless. However, the program left merchants and drivers unhappy. So, in his State of the City address in January, Mayor Lee announced his support for ending Sunday meters.

And ended they have been, although Lee took a solid amount of flak from the city's progressive politicians for the move. In part, there was a real policy difference between the two camps: One of the side benefits of Sunday meters is to discourage driving—a goal with solid leftist bona fides. Opponents of the decision lodged an appeal to the Board, arguing that moving back to Sunday meters should be subject to an environmental review. In part, there was also the question of the independence of the MTA board, which is an appointed rather than elected body. Wrap that all up in ongoing politics as usual, and there you go.

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