An easy walk from the Palace of Fine Arts, the Presidio and Marina Green, 3216 Pierce St. is a lovely place to park for a day in San Francisco. At least that’s the message drivers have communicated with their wallets: The single parking meter near the corner of Pierce and Lombard streets raked in over $17,000 in fees in the past year. That made it San Francisco’s highest revenue generator, according to The Standard’s analysis of meter transaction data.
Drivers certainly pay for the privilege. It costs $10.75 per hour to park at that location between noon and 3 p.m. on Saturdays, up from $10 an hour during the week, and $82 to leave a car there for the whole weekend day, according to the city’s parking pricing data. Those steep fees have given the block of Pierce Street between Lombard and Chestnut streets remarkable earning power for the city. Just 15 parking spaces on the block brought in a combined total revenue of nearly $186,000 in the past year.
Curiously, a 116-spot parking garage on the same block charges a comparatively thrifty $19 for 12 hours of parking.
A driver named Rachel, who pulled into the highly coveted spot in a Mercedes SUV on Tuesday, told The Standard she wasn’t surprised to hear that it was one of the priciest in the city.
“It was still cheaper than paying a ticket,” she said.
San Francisco brought in $51.7 million across nearly 23,000 parking meters from Sept. 26, 2022, to Sept. 26, 2023, according to the analysis. Hourly rates at some of the most expensive meters in the city have climbed into the double digits since the implementation of demand-responsive pricing in 2017, which raises prices on the most popular parking spots to incentivize turnover in high-traffic areas with the goal of increasing parking availability.
Most meters in the city operate from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with a few high-demand locations also charging on Sundays. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency almost extended those hours to 10 p.m. last May, until San Francisco supervisors called for a pause so the city could study the potential economic impact. That study will be completed sometime this fall, an agency spokesperson told The Standard.
San Francisco’s parking meters had a wide range of earnings in the past year. Corridors in the city’s tony Marina and Pacific Heights neighborhoods were dotted with meters that pulled in five-figure earnings. And sections of the Financial District, especially abutting the Embarcadero, pulled in thousands of dollars during the same period.
Earnings in SoMa and the Mission, however, were noticeably lower, with some meters logging less than $100 in transactions in an entire year.
In addition to traditional single-space meters, which serve one parking spot, the city also maintains meters that can serve dozens of spots. Some of these multispace meters pull in massive earnings.
At 2450 California St., there’s a small public parking lot near the intersection with Fillmore Street. The meter serving those 48 spaces pulled in $96,564 in the past year, making it the richest multispace meter. That total is more than what about half the city’s employees earned last year, according to salary data.
The runner-up is 700 Mission Bay Blvd. S., adjacent to the UCSF Medical Center. That multispace meter pulled in nearly $88,000 last year. That may be due, in part, to the fact that the meters run until 10 p.m. on the block, later than other parts of the city. And from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the rates on the block skyrocket from $2 per hour earlier in the day to $10 per hour.
A few blocks from the Chase Center, it’s a great place to park for a Warriors game. But sitting smack in the middle of the city’s special event parking zone, prices will stay up at $10 an hour in the lot during the occasion, even on a Sunday.
Jesse Rogala contributed additional reporting to this story.
Noah Baustin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org