Park as long as you like on Fillmore

No more tickets: New meters on Fillmore allow unlimited parking — and take credit cards.

Parking meters on Fillmore Street and in Japantown no longer have a one-hour time limit.

As part of the rollout of the city’s new high-tech parking program called SFpark, the shiny new silver meters along Fillmore were re-programmed on April 25 to have no time limits at all. Drivers may park as long as they wish, and they can now feed the meters with their credit and debit cards.

The result is promised to be a kind of parking magic: Spurred by periodic price adjustments, traffic will move more efficiently. There will be at least one available parking spot on every block at all times. And you can download an app on your smartphone that will lead you to them.

Messengers from the SFpark program fanned out across the neighborhood in mid-April to spread the word. They were met with some skepticism. “This makes no sense,” a new Fillmore merchant, Hi-Ho Jewelry owner Victoria Dunham, told an SFpark staffer who stopped by her shop. “You’re removing the limits and people are going to park less?”

He insisted it was so. With real-time data gathered from new sensors on the street and new meters on the curb, SFpark will know which spaces are open and which meters are expired. Beginning this summer, rates will be adjusted each month to motivate driver behavior.

“Longer time limits lead to more convenience, but not longer parking times,” according to information from SFpark. “Demand-responsive pricing rather than short time limits will achieve parking availability goals.”

The removal of the one-hour limit on meters was welcomed by many Fillmore business owners as word of the change began to circulate.

“It’s a plus,” said Vasilos Kiniris, owner of Zinc Details. “The longer they stay, the more they buy.”

He said in the first week after the change he could already sense some relief among his customers. “People are less fidgety,” Kiniris said, “not watching their meters and running back to their cars.”

Eddie Izzo, owner of the Metro 200 clothing boutique, said he first learned of the change a few days earlier from a surprised customer. “A customer came in and told me, ‘It just kept going to 2 1/2 hours,’ ” Izzo said. He welcomed the change, saying he hoped it would make shoppers “less meter conscious.”

Restaurant owners, who have complained that one-hour meters hurt their lunch business, were especially pleased. “That’s great,” said Via Veneto owner Massimo Lavino of the reprogrammed meters. “We thought they were broken.”

SFpark is a federally funded project experimenting with new technology and approaches in pilot projects around the city. In some neighborhoods, including the Marina, meters now have a four-hour limit. Time limits have not changed for yellow and green meters.

  • The only potential problem is if the price is too low, students, visitors, and staff from the nearby Pacific Dental School and CPMC Hospital may find it cheaper to leave their cars in an SF Park space rather than in the local garages, or non-metered spaces.