Death by a thousand curb cuts
Posted by clubsodaandsalt on February 1, 2010
Spend any time driving in San Francisco, and you’ll notice that there isn’t a lot of parking. Then, just before you give up and put the car in a garage, it dawns on you that while there aren’t that many spaces, there also aren’t that many parked cars. Instead, driveway after driveway chops up the curb, leaving the street space unusable. Curb cuts are everywhere, of course, but San Francisco buildings seem particularly fond of them.
The effective transfer of public property to private hands is bad enough, but there are a lot of other reasons to dislike curb cuts. They increase conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles, they set up hazardous situations as cars back out onto busy streets, they encourage sidewalk parking (an epidemic on some blocks of the Mission), and, when you’re talking about a commercial street, garages aren’t nearly as good for walkability and economics as storefronts.
You’d think that with all these externalities, you’d have to pay. Well, not yet, but the city is finally going to start charging $100 per year for the privilege. A pittance considering that off street spaces go for $200 per month in some neighbourhoods, but at least it’s a start. Perhaps as the city’s finances continue to deteriorate, owners of curb cuts will be made to pay a fairer share.
And, full disclosure: we currently lease a parking space in our building, and a curb cut is involved. I think that the owner (and us, by extension) should be taxed heavily for it.