Who gets to park in the middle of the street on Sunday? Maybe not just one set of Christian church-goers
By Tim Redmond
NOVEMBER 18, 2015 – San Francisco transit officials have finally, after about 100 years, decided that it’s worth asking whether churches have the right to use the middle of the street as parking spaces – with no permits.
If you live in the Mission, you know the drill: Sunday morning, people heading for worship services take over the medians of Valencia, Guerrero, Dolores … they just put their cars in places where, at any other time, they would be ticketed and towed away.
There is no legal process to get permission to do this. It’s just, as the cops have told me, “tradition.” The police have decided since forever that if you’re going to church on Sunday, you don’t have to follow the parking laws.
As Mission Local notes, some churches even give (fake) parking permits to their members.
I have been writing about this for (literally) more than a decade. No politician wants to touch it. As I noted in the Bay Guardian:
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If you go to see the (secular) Mime Troupe in Dolores Park and you stick your car in the middle of the street, you get a ticket. If you drink at a (secular) bar or eat at a (secular) restaurant and you leave your car in the Valencia Street median, you get cited. You can’t double park while you run in for a (secular) cup of coffee at Muddy Waters.
You can’t even do it when you go to yoga, which for a lot of people is a spiritual experience.
I have no problem with people parking in the middle of the street on Sunday – if everyone gets to do it. I do have a problem with people who follow a certain religious tradition (Christian – the Jews don’t get to park in the middle of the street on their Sabbath and I’ve never seen a mosque get this privilege) getting a special perk just because “we’ve always done it that way.”
A few cranky people like me complain every once in a while. But it never goes anywhere.
Now, it appears that the Municipal Transportation Agency is paying attention. The agency is putting out a survey to seek input on whether anyone should be allowed to park in the middle of the street, and if so, who it should be.
Says the MTA:
Vehicles parked along the center medians of Dolores and Guerrero streets have been a common occurrence for years. However, despite the practice’s longstanding nature, it has in turn not been equally available to all potential users, been sporadically enforced, has at times generated unsafe conditions due to drivers parking in intersections and between medians, and has caused some vegetation along the Guerrero center medians to be damaged.
If you live in the area near Dolores Park, you can vote in the survey. So far, there’s nothing about Valencia Street, where it’s been going on just as long, but that could be next.
If we’re going to stop enforcing parking laws on Sunday morning, fine: But let’s not just limit it to a certain religious practice.
Besides, Jesus would ride the bus.