Few issues in San Francisco are as contentious as parking. In this dense city of 7 by 7 square miles, there are half a million registered vehicles and only 600,000 legal parking spaces.Â During the work week 35,000 more cars flood the streets.
Expect to pay up to $40/day to park downtown. Parking meters–if you can find one–cost $3.50 hour, the second highest in the U.S.Â But should yours lapse, a violation will set you back $65, the highest in America. Now City Hall wants to issue a whole lot more tickets.
San Francisco is facing a $400 million budget deficit this year. Part of the solution is to target motorists, the cash cows of choice in this Transit First town. Although the city prides itself on its public transit, it's often late and unreliable.Â With little alternative, many residents are forced to drive, so the fleecing of motorists has enraged the driving public.
Enter Phil Ting, the Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco. He's trying to harness this anger using new media. His tech team has created an electronic toolkit that uses Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, streaming video, online discussions, blogs and email to “Reset San Francisco.” Not coincidentally, Ting is running for mayor, so his electoral campaign hopes to benefit from his online initiative.
In a wired city like San Francisco it will be interesting to see how much traction he gets for this efforts. So far, over 2,000 people have signed an online petition asking City Hall to “Tear Up the Unfair Ticket Plan.” Will this revolt propel Ting into the mayor's office? While it pales in comparison to what's happening in Egypt, it does show the increasing power of the Internet to mobilize citizens.