Posted by: BayAreaComRE | August 31, 2010

Parking in the Digital Age

An often overlooked aspect of commercial real estate is parking, plain and simple. There are so many other factors that go into selecting a site to set up a business that parking can become a secondary consideration. Or maybe it’s overlooked because so many urban destinations have such arcane parking solutions that businesses neglect to address it and municipalities simply toss it aside by privatizing it and enforcing the populists mistakes.

If you live in any major dense metropolitan area, chances are that cars are an afterthought, and if you have to use one on a day-to-day basis or are a commuter you’ve probably had a ticketing episode, been towed, maybe even been slapped with a boot. You probably also dread the thought of having to circle a block for a spot, waiting in line to get your permit every year, leave your car double parked while running in a convenience store to grab something, and all of the cringing tasks associated with parking.

The SF Park initiative is a subsidiary of the SF MTA and it is currently pitching the city of San Francisco on a whole new reality, one free of all of the morbid associations above, and one that assigns the correct cost of a parking spot depending on the corresponding demand. The video below explains that new reality.

The new project is in beta phase right now and is being tested in dozens of neighborhoods. It promises to help drivers by giving real-time parking availability via the internet and mobile applications. It also prevents a slow-down in public transit buses as less people are circling blocks slowly looking for spots, and will likley prevent accidents as those looking for parking are typically less aware than normal drivers.

The roll-out is occurring now with an initial one to two year evaluation period followed by and implementation year in 2012.  The concept has been in the works for quite sometime (CNN report) and will be a welcome fresh breathe of air for the city that can seem choked with traffic at times. The SFMTA has had similar success in the past when upgrading their services to the digital age, especially with their Translink / Clipper initiative, and although it took a long time to roll-out and has had hiccups, the majority of users of the device are very satisfied.

More info about SF Park can be found here: http://sfpark.org

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