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SF Voters Reject Measure to Enshrine Free Parking and Stop Livable Streets

10:21 AM EST on November 5, 2014

In case you need a little pick-me-up this morning, here's some good news out of San Francisco. Voters resoundingly rejected Proposition L, a local ballot measure designed to halt the city's progress on improving streets for walking, biking, and transit. As of the most recent available count, with nearly all precincts reporting, 62 percent of San Francisco voters had said "No" to Prop L.

The Prop L contingent, backed by internet billionaire Sean Parker and the local Republican Party, framed their measure as a way to "restore balance" to San Francisco streets by enshrining free parking and elevating traffic flow as a decisive factor in street design. This in a city that has only taken modest steps to reclaim street space for transit, biking, and walking, and where the mayor recently reneged on a shortlived policy to charge for metered parking on Sundays.

While Prop L was a non-binding policy statement, it could have put a serious chill on livable streets policies in the city. The campaign strategy was to turn car-based populism into votes -- handing out flyers in parking lots was the most visible tactic.

As the closest thing to an up-or-down vote on transit-priority lanes, bikeways, and pedestrian improvements ever put before the electorate, the Prop L results are going to make an impression on local officials who decide the fate of those projects. Instead of rejecting the nascent reforms happening on the streets of the city, voters sent a signal that they want more.

For more on the Prop L vote and its implications, check Aaron Bialick's reporting at Streetsblog SF later today.

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