We have also instituted policies to reduce housing (rent control), increase homelessness (city welfare programs & non-profits), reduce employment (anti-tech, heavy taxes, fees & regulations), increase cost and reduce quality of government services (lax management, union friendly contracts), increase corruption (single party rule), increase crime (lax prosecution, sanctuary), drive out families and middle class (high costs, poor schools)... I could go on all day.
I know this seems strange but you just don't understand. We are just much smarter, more sophisticated and more caring than you!
Sorry for the cynical, snide rant but sometime this city gets to me. It seems like a conspiracy to set SF up to fail but it is a conspiracy led by the people of SF. This is a great city but it could be so much better.
* Almost every policy change in at least the past 15 years has resulted in fewer parking spots not more.
That's an intentional choice to make more walkable neighborhoods. It's worked as SF is seen as one of the most walkable cities in the country. This lowers healthcare costs, increases fitness, drives more business to local stores, etc.
* We have also instituted policies to reduce housing (rent control)
Rent Control was enacted in 1979 and doesn't cover any building constructed after that date . That's not exactly something we've done in the past 15 years..
* [We have also instituted policies to] increase homelessness (city welfare programs & non-profits)
Do you honestly believe that providing care for the homeless leads to more homelessness? That's a very ugly view of humanity.
* [We have also instituted policies to] reduce employment (anti-tech, heavy taxes, fees & regulations)
SF just eliminated it's payroll tax , has tax-free zones for companies who move to underdeveloped parts of the city , and some SF supes are on Github  with new laws that further reduce fees and streamline ops (especially surrounding SF's Open Data initiative ). The number of tech jobs has dramatically increased in the city limits and the unemployment rate is almost below 5%. Our 'employment-reducing' policies don't seem to be working very well.
* [We have also instituted policies to] increase corruption (single party rule)
Stupid democracy, always giving people the representation they want.
* [We have also instituted policies to] increase crime (lax prosecution, sanctuary)
The data disagrees .. SF's violent crime rate is better than most large cities (including Ft. Worth, NYC, Louisville, Phoenix, Nashville, Houston, Boston... ), most of the violent crime is constrained to a few neighborhoods and the property crime is generally petty theft.
* [We have also instituted policies to] drive out families and middle class (high costs, poor schools)
The high costs are due to the strong job market combined with a housing shortage. The housing shortage was exacerbated by the credit freeze in the wake of the GFC. There was a 5 year time period when almost 0 new units were constructed. Between now and 2015, 8,000 new units will be constructed, that's more than the previous 15 years combined. Does that sound like a city afraid of growth?
The schools get a bad rap, they actually perform fairly well on the state's API rankings . There are some obvious problems, especially in the Mission and Bay View areas, but close to 80% of schools in SF are improving YoY.
Bemoaning snarky, inaccurate caricatures of laws and policies is about the laziest form of civic engagement possible. You live here, so why not work to make things better.
 - http://www.walkscore.com/cities-and-neighborhoods/
 - http://www.sftu.org/rentcontrol.html
 - http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/223032/tax+authorities/...
 - http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Tax-break-draws-firms-...
 - https://data.sfgov.org/
 - https://github.com/SupervisorMarkFarrell/San-Francisco-Open-...
 - http://www.fathersmanifesto.net/murdersanfrancisco19992011.P...
 - http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/print-edition/2013/0...
Here are a few links to help open those eyes. I wish I had the time to relate all my personal experiences with each of these problems. Maybe we could grab a beer someday to discuss how to fix this but the first step is admitting there is a problem.
Overview - http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-12-16/news/the-worst-run-big-ci...
Rent control - https://www.baycitizen.org/columns/elizabeth-lesly-stevens/s...
Homeless - http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Nevius-How-helping-the...
Anti-tech - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5928382
Corruption - http://www.citireport.com/2012/04/inside-the-willie-l-brown-...
Crime - http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/S-F-family-s-murderer-ki...
Anti-family - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/families-flee-san-f...
A little humor - http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-san-francisco-worst-aw...
According to Google Maps, a 14 minute drive from Powell Station to Oyster Point Park, just south of the city, is a 1 hour 11 minute bus ride, including 1.4 miles (28 minutes) of walking. A 5x difference.
Powell Station to Beach Park in Foster City is a 29 minute drive, or a 1 hour 39 minute Caltrain and bus trip (this time with minimal walking). A 3.4x difference.
Sure, these public transit trips are technically doable if you're not carrying anything or with anyone that precludes walking, but it's hard for me to imagine it being much worse than that for short trips in a densely populated area like the Bay Area.
I live in the city, don't own a car, and it sucks. Those two routes aren't pathological cases I searched for to make my point. They're just two recent places I wanted to go on weekends. I despise car culture too, but I also despise spending 20+% of my weekend waking hours on public transit if I actually want to go somewhere. It's either that or spend at least $40 a day on a Zipcar (which carries many of the same problems of car ownership, namely traffic and parking), or only go places serviced directly by MUNI or BART.
When we got to the Exploratorium on Embarcadero, I found several open street parking spaces in a row. I spent a few minutes looking all over to check for no parking signs or something to tell me I couldn't park there. I literally couldn't believe that there would be 6 open parking spaces in a row in S.F.
As I was there I was thinking... what in S.F. just banned cars all together? Instead, you could have tons of rental motorcycles and lots of trolley-type cars all over. S.F. just does not have space for hundreds of thousands of cars
It takes over an hour to go 3 or 4 miles on the trains. On a good day.
On a bad day, your train breaks down due to poor maintenance or otherwise randomly stops in the tunnel, with no explanation from the staff, for anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour. Bad days happen dismayingly often.
And this is not even mentioning the duct tape based repairs, not infrequent incidence of aggressive passengers, and the thick layer of filth on the vehicles.
Source: Having lived in other cities with good public transport, I thought it'd be great to not have a car when I moved to SF. Now I take Muni every day, unfortunately. I wish I could drive a car to work and back.
See also http://www.sfweekly.com/2012-06-13/news/muni-sfmta-buses-pub...
Each person in the city takes up 16ft of space on the road, plus distances between cars for safety.
Another option might be that during rush hours, certain intersections are closed to traffic, allowing main roads leading out of the city to always have green lights in the right direction of travel. The constant changing of red to green with people blocking intersections is a major component of the gridlock.
A better solution would be to encourage the use of non-automobile transport through increased public transit investment (more service). That would free up plenty of parking for those who still choose to (or must) drive. Or to encourage ride or car-sharing, thus maximizing the effectiveness of existing parking (more people served per parked car). Also, raising the price of parking on-street would make more parking available, both by discouraging some existing parking and making off-street lots more profitable for operators.
I rarely drive in SF but when I do I often find that when I go to find a parking space there a many other people also driving around looking for parking spaces. I wonder what percentage of driving in SF is spent looking for parking.
* I live in North Oakland now, and I can get to downtown SF in about 30 minutes, including the walk to the BART station and having to wait a few minutes for the train. At worst (just missed a train, at the weekend, 20 minute wait for the next one) it takes 45 minutes, wheres getting downtown from 30th Avenue and Taraval in SF took a minumum of 54 minutes and typically more than an hour.
I'm curious how you might solve the current problem?
What if there was a way to let people rent their driveways automatically for specific time periods during the day? Could even have some way for them to leave a set of keys with the driveway owner so they could move it in a pinch or something....
Your car drops you off in front of your driveway, and goes park itself wherever there is a spot, in a 5-minute driving distance from your house.
Need to leave the house? Press a button on your smartphone to notify your car 5 min ahead of time to come pick you up.
(Laws to allow driverless cars would need to be written and voted. Right now, driverless car laws require the presence of a human in the driver seat.)
In SF, having a driveway with a bit of unusable space on one side gives you an extra parking space -- on the street. Blocking your own driveway there is legal. Even if you have room for your car(s) in a garage, I'd imagine an extra space is frequently useful in a city with such limited parking.
A bit of dead space also provides a buffer to turn into and out of the driveway that might sometimes be necessary (your turning radius isn't zero and some streets are narrow).
(Background: I lived in SF for 12 years but never owned a car or driveway there.)
Parking spots, including garages, will become much less valuable. There will be many other impacts much harder to foresee.
But the big win would be with car sharing.
From pjlegato's comment below.
He did, right after the diagram:
"Unfortunately, rearranging all the driveways in San Francisco probably isn’t feasible…"
The space for traffic lanes would be a little smaller, and actually maneuvering in and out of parking spaces would be a pain in the ass from at least one lane.
The loss of some space for lanes could be addressed by angle parking instead of parallel parking. If the angle is not too steep (say, 30 degrees or less), it would not unduly interfere with people using their driveways even if both sides of the driveway were occupied by parked cards.
Both the lane width problem and the maneuvering problem could be addressed if the street was changed to a one-way street.
(Hmmm...converting a street to one-way and reducing the number of lanes by one could give enough space to do angle parking on BOTH sides. That would give a big parking gain).
Backing up into traffic is difficult and dangerous because sight lines do not extend far enough to make reasonable estimates of adequate space. Pedestrians show up in unexpected places. Double parkers and commercial deliveries block two vehicles instead of one.
Clement St is worth it for the great bookstore and Thai food though.
However, if you're forced to drive and park in SF, what's extra frustrating about the wasteful driveway situation is that a good percentage of the garages are not even being used for cars. Many have been converted into bedrooms or storage. I wish there someway to identify such conversions and allow parking in their driveways.
But these wasted spaces the author talks about are areas where a car should be able to park nicely without hitting anyone. But because of a driveway/bad planning the car either has to be small enough or have a driver that is really good at parallel parking to fit into it. So even his suggestion is enacted, it wouldn't actually increase the number of parking spots, it would just make some of the current difficult ones easier to slide into. My apartment complex has two garages with driveways about 2 cars apart. Every morning when I walk out I either see one very large truck there or two cars that are nearly touching.
All that wasted time by the driver to make sure he was outside of the driveway and not hitting the car in front/behind him, or the extra time the car that could have parked behind the large truck. That time adds up for everyone.
b) Parking is a problem mainly in dense urbanized areas like commercial districts. In residential areas like the Sunset or Richmond district, there's already plenty of parking, and that's where the bulk of the gains from this suggestion would be realized - which is no help if you're trying to park in the Mission or Upper Haight.
c) Good luck finding the money to pay for altering the front yards of many houses; even assuming automatic agreement from the residents, they have no particular reason to spend the money to implement this scheme so the city would have to pick up the cost.
I think the best solution tot he problem of parking in SF is more smartcars (as there are many 1 and 2 person households that just need a runaround vehicle), more zipcars, more rideshares, and eventually driverless cars. SF can be a hard city to get around at times and bicycles or public transit are impractical for many purposes, but the root of the parking problem is too many idle vehicles.
In my fantasy world, curb cuts would be taxed. Many of the private home garages could be converted back into housing as it was before (and without raising the precious height of a building!) and increase the capacity of the city.
However, as others have noted San Francisco does not need more parking. It needs fewer cars. San Francisco actually has more cars per capita than any other city in america (source: Street Fight http://www.amazon.com/Street-Fight-Politics-Mobility-Francis...). Parking should cost money to discourage cars, improve efficiency, and generate revenue.
tl;dr - The demand for this far outstrips the supply of people willing to rent their spots to strangers for a few bucks.
Hey, it'd only quadruple the construction price, but it would be so awesome.
Seriously, I know if hackers built houses they'd have a lot more "features," but given how often my IDE crashes, I'd rather an architect design my home...
The author even comes out and says that there is no way this could happen as you can't really up and move every existing driveway.