#Streetvalues - The Real Cost of a Parking Spot - what else could it buy?

For what one metered space costs the City of San Francisco in maintenance, 291 people could ride Muni.

For what one metered space costs the City of San Francisco in maintenance, 291 people could ride Muni.

What does the City of San Francisco spend each year to maintain an on-street parking spot?

  1. The City of San Francisco spent around $30 million on parking enforcement in 2010-2011. In the absence of empirical data for the split between enforcement of paid and unpaid spots, we making the generous and simplifying assumption that the enforcement budget is 50% dedicated to paid spots even though these are fewer in number, because of the revenue incentive associated with enforcing their use. In this estimate, then, the enforcement budget expended towards on-street parking: $15 million.

  2. The City Controller’s office calculated annual expenditures on street maintenance as follows, for a total of $128.4 million annually.

    1. Street cleaning: $26.4 million

    2. Maintenance: $53 million

    3. Surfacing and reconstruction: $49 million

  3. There are 857 miles of maintained public road in San Francisco. (1)

  4. Given that the total number of on-street, metered parking spaces in San Francisco is 26,750 (2), and a parking space size of around 144 square feet, we assume a length of around 14 feet.

  5. 14 feet is ~0.0026 of a mile.

  6. On-street metered parking spaces as a fraction of total public road miles: ( 0.0026 x 26,750 spaces ) / 875 miles = 0.079 or 7% of San Francisco’s roadway miles are on-street metered parking. However, parking spaces typically only make up at most ½ of the roadway space for maintenance purposes, so we discount that number to 3.5%.

  7. Total annual maintenance costs of on-street metered parking per year in San Francisco = 3.5% * $128.4 M = $4.49M. Including the cost of enforcement, at $15M / year, the total costs of on-street metered parking come to $19.49M.

  8. Per metered parking space, this amounts to $19.49M / 26,750 = $729 / space / year.


What about an on-street unmetered spot?

  1. We assume that the costs of maintaining an unmetered spot are essentially the same as those for a metered spot: $4.49M / 26,750 = $167.85 per year.

  2. The number of unmetered spots is 248,700. (3)

  3. We assume that 50% of enforcement costs are expended on those spots: $15M / 248,700 = $60.31 per unmetered spot per year in enforcement costs.

  4. The per spot maintenance cost of a parking spot in SF we assume as $167.85 per space per year.

  5. So the total cost per unmetered parking space: $60.31+167.85 = $228.16 / space / year.


What does these amounts buy?

  1. Muni tickets: regular single trip is $2.50. (4)

    1. On-street metered: 291 Muni tickets

    2. Off-street unmetered: 91 Muni tickets

  2. Car-share time: Zipcar publishes its San Francisco rates at $7/hour (5), assuming you’re already a member.

    1. On-street metered: 104 hours of car-sharing time.

    2. On-street unmetered: 32.5 hours of car-sharing time.

  3. Bike-share time: Motivate lists (6) a 24 hour pass at $9 and a year pass at $88. Which means:

    1. On-street metered: 81 day passes or 8 annual memberships.

    2. On-street unmetered: 28 day passes or 2 annual memberships.



  1. Caltrans report: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tsip/hpms/hpmslibrary/hpmspdf/2010PRD.pdf

  2. SF Park census: http://sfpark.org/resources/parking-census-data-context-and-map-april-2014/

  3. SF Park census http://sfpark.org/resources/parking-census-data-context-and-map-april-2014/

  4. https://www.sfmta.com/getting-around/transit/fares-passes

  5. http://www.zipcar.com/check-rates/sf

  6. http://www.bayareabikeshare.com/pricing