2536RE: [bvpta] BV Parking
- Feb 1, 2008Judy,Saw the paper this morning. You're famous!!!
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Ancel Martinez
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2008 9:00 AM
Subject: [bvpta] BV Parking
MOVING CARS PART OF DAILY LESSON PLAN
Hourly dash from school to avoid ticket an ongoing problem for teachers, staff
Friday, February 1, 2008Every recess - and sometimes in the middle of class - teachers at San Francisco's Buena Vista Elementary School dash outside to move their cars before a parking ticket appears on their windshield.
Up to six times a day, they forgo a chat with a student, a sip of coffee or a trip to the bathroom to play musical cars among the one-hour spots around the school.
The rest of the day, the teachers try to remember where they last put their car, wonder if they'll find another space and pray the parking enforcement officer won't get there first.
Parking in San Francisco is rarely easy or cheap, but at Buena Vista in the Inner Mission neighborhood, as well as at a handful of other schools across the city, parking is an obsession - taking up valuable staff time, disrupting learning and killing morale, school officials say.
"Teachers are running out every hour or so," said Buena Vista Principal Larry Alegre. "It's not a good situation."
It's a problem that has plagued certain schools for decades, making some schools less attractive to teachers, volunteers and substitutes, school officials say.
At Alegre's school, teachers and staff spend up to two hours each week parking and re-parking - with some nonetheless accumulating hundreds of dollars in fines each year.
The city allocates 10 residential zone parking permits per school for teachers and the principal only - and at an annual fee of $60 each.
Alegre estimates he needs 20 permits in addition to the 10 his school already receives.
And the 10-permit limit doesn't take into account the number of staff or the lack of available free parking at or around the school.
Roosevelt Middle School in the Inner Richmond, for example, is surrounded by two-hour parking spots and has 60 to 70 teachers and staff, not including cafeteria folks, said office worker Maureen Santori.
Parents and school officials have lobbied city leaders to grant more parking permits but to no avail.
"It makes me want to cry," said kindergarten parent Bill Rusitzky, who has been making calls and visiting city officials since September. "You can't even fix something like this - it's ridiculous."
At Buena Vista, workers can park a few blocks away at San Francisco General Hospital's garage for $12 per day - which would cost $2,160 for the 180 days of school each year.
City and school officials encourage everyone to take public transportation, walk, ride a bike or carpool whenever possible. Teachers said that such options are often impossible or inconvenient with bags full of lesson plans, books, students' homework and art supplies.
School board members admitted this is a long-standing problem with no easy solution.
"In a neighborhood with crowded parking, we can't expect them to put the teachers' interests above all others," said board member Jill Wynns. "This is just an ongoing problem of an urban school district. It's a conundrum."
On a recent morning, Buena Vista school secretary Judy Diaz abandoned the phones and the photocopier to run out to her van - again.
She stopped in her tracks just outside the building's front doors.
"Where did I park?" she mumbled to herself before seeing the vehicle up the hill.
She then drove down up and down side streets where there are a limited number of all-day spots, but every one was taken. Some teachers arrive by 6:45 a.m. to get one of those spots before they fill even though classes start at 9:30 a.m.
Diaz grudgingly pulled into another one-hour space around the corner and checked the time.
City code requires a car to move at least a block away from the original space to avoid a $40 or $50 ticket, depending on the area. Teachers and staff don't always adhere to the letter of that law and hope for the best.
(Wiping chalk off tires is a $100 offense, although San Francisco is increasingly using digital license plate scanners.)
Diaz can't remember when she didn't have to move her car every day, every hour. School staff members like secretaries don't qualify for the school's annual lottery for the city parking permits.
Every fall, Buena Vista randomly picks the nine teachers who will get one of the 10 coveted tags. The principal gets the other one.
This year, special education teacher Susan Terrell got lucky. That hasn't always been the case in her 12 years there.
"When you don't have a permit, you're obsessed with time and lesson interruptions and scrambling out there rain or shine," she said. "On the raffle day, the teachers who don't get it become despondent."
Across San Francisco, 920 teachers have purchased the permits - a $55,200 revenue stream for the city.
The teachers at Buena Vista and other schools said they would gladly add to that if given the chance.
"Basically what we need is some more stickers for the teachers and other workers here at the school and even some temporary ones for volunteers," Alegre said. "We should be able to do that somehow, for the teachers of San Francisco, for the children."
At least two San Francisco supervisors agree.
"If people are teaching our children, then we ought to at least make it convenient for them to be there and park," said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, adding that perhaps there's a way to look at the needs of each school and develop criteria for additional passes. "I just think we ought to make some concessions."
Supervisor Tom Ammiano, a former teacher and school board member, echoed her comments and offered to raise the issue with city leaders.
"What you see usually around here is that solutions are possible, but the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing," he said. "You have to have some uniform standards, but you have to have something that is tailor-made for that situation."
School board member Hydra Mendoza, who is also Mayor Gavin Newsom's education adviser, said her boss is looking at increasing the number of school parking permits to 15 per school.
But she added that it's a challenge because there are arguably many worthy folks who need parking.
"I think permits are those sacred things," she said. "We're continuing to work on it."
In the meantime, speech therapist Angie Garcia watches the clock each day, bolting out of her second-floor office at Buena Vista every hour to move her car - up, down and around the block six times each day. This year she's only had two tickets, compared with 10 last year.
"I've had to move my schedule around to meet the hourly thing," Garcia said. "You're trying to do your job and you're getting punished at the same time."E-mail Jill Tucker at jtucker@....
Contact city leadersSupervisors: www.sfgov.org/site/bdsupvrs_index.asp
School board members: portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=board
Mayor Gavin Newsom: www.sfgov.org/site/mayor_index.asp
my new email address
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