By Matt Davis

If you’ve ever spent time in San Francisco, you’re probably all-too familiar with the frustration that comes with finding a place to park. And as is the case in many urban cities, even if you find that coveted spot, the experience may not be a positive one. Garages can be small, claustrophobic, and complicated to navigate, which creates unnecessary stress that can have a negative effect on the rest of your day. But those are just challenges we put up with to live, play, and work in the City by the Bay, right? Actually, that doesn’t have to be true. I have discovered a garage in San Francisco that proves you can make lemons out of lemonade, with minimal effort and expense.

The Golden Gateway Garage is a three-level structure with a complex layout that could make it difficult to find an empty spot in a timely fashion. Yet I always park here for a weekly project meeting because of how it’s managed. Garage staff mitigate all potential frustrations with nothing but old-fashioned signage, cones, and a good plan that adapts to density and time of day. In the morning, users are directed to the top deck. In the early afternoon, the upper level is closed off in favor of sending new arrivals down the ramp to the basement. If you arrive in the late afternoon, the speed ramp to the upper level and basement are closed off and you are guided to the on-grade level and a nearby open stall. It makes parking fast, easy, and simple.

With minimal effort, a potentially frustrating search for parking becomes a positive experience. I always choose this garage over other options because I know I will make my meeting on time with minimal stress. Even when resources are limited and costly upgrades to layout and technology aren’t available, parking can still go the extra mile. All you need is an eye on the customer experience and a well-executed plan.

Learn more about the Golden Gateway Garage.

Matt Davis is associate principal with Watry Design, Inc.