San Francisco fines a couple $1,542 for parking in their own driveway

Originally published at: San Francisco fines a couple $1,542 for parking in their own driveway | Boing Boing


You can’t say that SF’s city bureaucracy doesn’t live up to its reputation.


The City seems pretty unsympathetic to private car ownership at all, taking every opportunity to ticket and tow any vehicle they can get at

If they want to get cars off the street and make everybody take the bus … that’s one way to do it


If that’s the goal, and not making the streets less congested for the really rich folks, I’m actually on board.


Some time ago I read about a neighborhood in San Francisco where the meter maid parking enforcement officer was “gifted” a wreck by the neighborhood due to her tenacity, with the keys and title mailed to her work address. The car was then parked in the neighborhood and was tenaciously ticketed by her.

I think the final chapter was that she was now liable to all of the tickets she wrote for that vehicle that she was now the proud owner of.


It’s pretty standard for working-class people who move there with a car, not knowing what’s up, to give the car up the first or second time it’s towed because it’s not worth the money or hassle


From the ABC7 article it sounds like this whole thing was triggered by a lousy neighbor:

Looking at the photos of the curb it’s apparent that it includes a low profile and slope that was clearly intended for cars to cross over it at that location:

Maybe if they were willing to spend the time and money on a good lawyer they’d be more successful in getting it grandfathered in, but clearly they shouldn’t have to do that. Or maybe all this news coverage will accomplish the same thing.


Yeah, as always, the fines route penalizes people with less income more harshly, very little doesn’t nowadays.


I wonder if they can sue the city for an illegal curb cut? Presumably, if there’s no garage the rule is there can be no driveway either. If there’s no driveway, why would there be a curb cut?

Alternatively, I also wonder if they can put a faux garage door in front of the bay window. I bet they never open those blinds anyway. Frame out a garage door and paint it to look like one. Just a big square canvas on the front of the house. Then, it’ll look like all the neighbors. A movie set garage door.


And a Potemkin parking spot!


I don’t know the details of this specific case, but I lived in SF for five years and knew a lot of people ticketed for parking in their driveways. The reason was always the same- the car is blocking the sidewalk. Most SF driveways are too short between the door and sidewalk to fit a car, so the car blocks some or all of the sidewalk, which is illegal. Enforcing this seems very reasonable to me, because otherwise the sidewalks become unusable in a hurry. All it takes is a couple of people per block doing this and you have to walk in the street.

Not saying SF isn’t full of terrible bureaucracy and NIMBYism also, but enforcing this rule seems pretty reasonable to me. No old photos of buggies required.


Then let me enlighten you on the relevant detail here: they weren’t blocking the sidewalk and weren’t being cited for that.

The screenshot of the video I included above may be misleading on that point but the car does fully fit in their driveway.


And rename the city Brigadoon.


Rent a Model T and take a cyanotype. Send it in.


Hey, you can’t park there! Where’s the Google bus supposed to stop to pick up employees?


Parking in San Francisco is a blood sport. There is a preponderance of garages that have been illegally converted to inlaw units but remain disguised as garages, sometimes with rogue red curb paint missing the city emblem. It is legal for anyone to parallel park on the street in front of those, if it is clear the garage is inoperable. So the owners put out illegal “no parking” signs on their “garages” as their retort, and threaten damage to people who legally park there.


This situation is a different because they don’t have to block the sidewalk to park there.
Based on google street view history, they seem to have gotten a new larger car recently. The old one looks like it easily fit, but the new one just barely.

The shot further up the thread where the car sticks out into the sidewalk indicates that they don’t always get it right. It seems possible that is when they got ticketed for parking poorly in their own space. Sounds like a nuanced situation to me, not a black and white example of overreach. The most shocking thing about this is that they were able to get parking enforcement out at all.

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That was probably a result of me doing a screenshot of a video as it was still playing. The video was showing them pulling into the space as a demonstration for the TV crew and the car was still in motion at that point.

Anyway, the articles make it clear that the specific citation issued wasn’t for blocking the sidewalk, it was for violating an ordinance against parking on a setback that isn’t in front of a garage.


To be fair, these kinds of ordinances are quite common, trying to keep people from parking on their lawns, etc. It’s about a combination of aesthetics and having proper, safe driveways. Locally it’s kind of backfired, as it encourages people to pave over their entire front yards to turn them into permanent parking lots, which also seems to have happened in this case some time ago, except the city isn’t happy about that, either.


It’s more about how the City bureaucracy enforces the rules and on whose behalf.


Important to note that according to the full story they were not parking at the curb in front of their house, which is quite common in SF, but on their own front lawn or equivalent. Not to defend SF’s parking laws; SF also has a peculiar approach to street cleaning: on our side of the street it’s anytime between 9AM-12AM on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, with an $84 ticket if you get the dates mixed up and leave your car there.