Spot or Not: Parking in San Francisco

There was some sort of Blue Grass concert thing going on in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park this weekend (not much of a hippie myself), and parking in my area (Central Richmond) was nothing short of a joke. Speaking of joke, this guy parked in our driveway and clearly was already wasted, and it begs the question, how much over is over?


Generally, if I can in any way shape or form get my car in or out, I’m not calling (for the record, I have never called a tow truck.) Maybe it’s because I used to valet and can maneuver just about any jalopy into any position. But seriously, if you parked in a spot hanging over about four feet in the front and at least two feet in the back, would you get out of the car and say, “Oh, we totally fit. Let’s go.”?

The neighbors called to have them towed (not something I’d do, especially since I didn’t need to leave), and my wife and I felt horrible for them. (Imagine having fun at a concert and coming back to find your car missing.) But that’s just us. What do you think?

Is this a spot or not?

64 thoughts on “Spot or Not: Parking in San Francisco

  1. that is BS! i’m not one for towing either, but that is above and beyond—absolutely a bull shit tow job and frankly, i don’t feel overly bad for the person that owned the car because if they were stupid enough to hang over that much on both sides, they deserve the tow. though i have never called a truck and though i’ve been towed for less than an inch in a driveway, i’m typically very respectful and i have little sympathy for somebody that takes that big of a parking gamble.

  2. Not a spot! I would have called to have them ticketed, not towed. For those who don’t know, DPT actually asks you which action you would prefer. This very thing happens to me constantly over in Bernal. I’ve never gotten anybody towed. But I will get a overhanger ticketed in a heartbeat.

    Another, thing, specific to Bernal. We don’t have street sweeping, so consequently a lot of Missionites will leave their cars on Bernal streets for a week at a time. I don’t like it. Park in your own ‘hood ya cheapskate! You’re making your fellow San Franciscans who actually live in the ‘hood drive around and around looking for parking every night.

  3. Spot – for a smart or mini – and that’s it. I know my mini can fit in that and I always, always check. If I hang over, I don’t park there. If he blocks your curb cut, you can have him towed. I would – cause I am like that when people are clearly rude. The fee to get the car out of hock is enough of a lesson though in this case it sounds like the guy would not have remembered where he parked anyway.

  4. You know, its just RUDE. Typical behavior this day and age where people just dont take into consideration how their actions influence other people.

    (hello! bailout anyone!)

    I have same issue and paid SF to have both sides painted red with a warning on my garage door. If they STILL park over the red zones and i have to go up the curb to get in,then screw ’em, theyre towed.

  5. I’d have that dude towed in a minute. no tolerance here for blocking my driveway.

    but what I really notice is what an ugly street. sidewalk covered with gum and crap.

    not a tree in sight, or any streetscaping. The Richmond has always been one of the uglier ‘hoods in SF.

    [Editor’s note: Those are leaves, not gum. The shot is looking down. Trees are to the left and right, and they just planted a whole bunch more. Good try tho.]

  6. not a spot!!!

    2 notes
    – each time we had to have a car towed (because we do have a couple of trees, so we cant just “drive around” the parked car … DPT requires us to open our garage door to prove we are actually driving in or out of the garage. (we do have official red paint – doesnt make any difference for drivers).

    – each time, the driver makes sure he blocks BOTH ends driveways, thus blocking in (or out) FIVE cars from THREE properties in our case. Each time, my husband says that increasing that much your odds of getting towed are just a proof of not working brain cells. If you do need to block a driveway, block only ONE by respecting the other driveway, and maybe leave your phone number. A couple of people have used our driveway that way, by buzzing at the door – and if they ask, I ALWAYS says yes.
    (we also have a convenient spot, so UPS, USPS, gardener etc always park there, blocking me)

    – no, when I see a car parked in our driveway without permission between say 12midnight and 6am, I dont call. But if I do need to go out, I’ll take a cab, and sue the owner for the price of the car fare. (or call an ambulance when barely needed, and sue the owner for that bill), even if I dont see my money back.

  7. I once had a really really bad day at work (lay off) and went home in tears… Parked in the first spot I thought I saw. The next day I went to my car, and I had a ticket on it for parking right smack in front of someone’s driveway. I wrote them a thank you note for not having my car towed, along with my apology for not being able to think straight and notice that the open curb was actually their garage. Them not having me towed was a super kind thing to do to me.

    If you don’t *have* to leave, you might be doing somebody a huge favor by just ticketing, not towing.

  8. NOT a spot. I live in the “Central Richmond” too and just because I can get my car out of my garage by moving around a blocker’s car doesn’t mean I should.

    I’m with the folks who say that it’s a show of consideration. This is probably the same guy/gal who showed up at the festival around 4pm and tried to bulldoze to the front of the stage.

  9. Crank and yank!

    Crank up the dial tone and tow that bastage!

    Completely inexcussable in this day and age. There are three lesser known alternatives to pissing everybody else off, Muni, Cabs, or save the planet and ride a bike, but for “f” sake don’t block my driveway!

    Have a nice day!

  10. are there any drawbacks to having your curbs painted red? For example,can the owner of the drivewaystill block their own if red without fear of a ticket?

  11. Damn good good question Matthew. If nobody answers here (not everybody reads the comments) I’ll be sure to post your question to the front page.

  12. I just did the math on the 4 feet over in the front, and 2 in the back. That’s the lenght of a tall person! Tow them! That car is hanging over six bloody feet.

  13. Excellent math skills, jan. (Just kidding.)

    Boy, you folks are mostly towers. Interesting. I’m not. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. It’s not the money. It’s the incredible hassle, the bureacracy, the waiting, the monopoly, etc etc. It’s such a crooked racket and creates such bad feelings. Seriously, not on my worst enemy. I would maybe only wish it on one or two Socketsite posters. Or 12.

  14. Obnoxious. Tow the SOB.

    Welcome back to action Alex. Things are dicey out there. Layoffs are going to hit us all like a Tsunami in the next 3 months guaranteed. Hang in there everybody!

  15. I have been told by a parking officer that you can’t even block your own driveway without a permit. But who knows…

  16. ‘Tis true, Dede.
    Here’s CA Vehicle Code 22500:
    “No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle whether attended or unattended, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a peace officer or official traffic control device, in any of the following places:…(e) In front of a public or private driveway, except that a bus engaged as a common carrier, schoolbus, or a taxicab may stop to load or unload passengers when authorized by local authorities pursuant to an ordinance.”

    Full text here:

    Yes, it’s illegal to park even across your OWN driveway. We will call to ticket cars who park into our driveway (Outer Richmond) because we use our garage daily for parking; if they haven’t moved and we actually need to leave, we’ll call back to have them towed. We’ve called 3 times for tows in 12 +years, and have only had one actual tow. I’d have ticketed this guy for starters.

    BTW, the bluegrass is awesome. Come out next year! But don’t block driveways.

  17. That definitely is not a spot.

    When I park in the street, I always check front and back. I don’t want to be towed, but more importantly, I think it very inconsiderate to block someone’s access. I don’t believe my “errand” has precedence over someone else’s ability to get in/out of their home.

    When my driveway is blocked I have a routine. First (if it is not too late) I honk. Maybe the person is close by. If after a few minutes I don’t get a response, I call to have the car towed. It is nice to be nice, but in my neighborhood there are usually no empty spots. I can’t just drive around to another spot, because there usually are none available. Which would leave me blocking someone else’s driveway, which I won’t do.

  18. Cath and Dede. Interesting subject.
    Our street is ALSO a 2 hours parking zone with heavy and thorough ticketing regarding this limitation.
    And the interceptors do NOT chalk the cars blocking a driveway. That is my contractors are always fighting to get THAT specific spot by being the first in the morning. Why? because the parking spot doesnt exist, thus they cant ticket a virtual car on a virtual spot?

    On the other hand, the interceptors also refuse to ticket anybody parked on the curbside, whereas it’s parallel parking, just on the curbside instead of next to it, or it’s perpendicular parking, with the back of the car hanging on the street or not… This drives me mad, because some idiots manage to block the curbside so an adult cant walk around the car, cant even walk behind the car, and has to go ON the street one parallel parked car before, till one parallel parked car after the $#^@^$ ‘s car.
    (and when I have a stroller and 3 kids with me, I have sweet glimpses of childhood memories when *we* were using pebbles, keys, coins etc to *permanently* mark the car paint in retaliation to anybody parking on the school street crossing.)

  19. amazing. same exact thing happened to us this weekend (prolly the ‘stro street fair, in our case, not the billionaire-sponsored hippie fest). saturday, our neighbors left a nice, but firmly toned note. sunday, the exact same dude parked in the exact same spot. i called dpt, and they ticketed the guy. neighbors left a fairly nasty note on top of the ticket; next time a tow is guaranteed. guess we’re just too soft, based upon this thread.

  20. I am not an expert nut several parking enforcement officers have told me that it is ok to block your own driveway. Perhaps the sf code supercedes the state code?
    Related question on another annoyingtrend: is it a moving violation when people double park on streets like Fillmore, union, or chestnut? Drives me crazy and I never see these people getting nailed.

  21. Wow, touch point here. I’d be afraid to have someone towed as they know where you live and can take retribution. Just have them ticketed unless you cannot get out.

    If I ever leave my car in a precarious situation, I just leave a note with my cell on the windshield. I’m never more than 60 seconds away and I’ve only once had a call– and the guy was totally cool about it.

  22. UrbanSF7 – somebody must have p*ssed in your cherrios…lots of on topic comments… yours, not so much.

  23. eddy, lol.
    we got retaliation only once: a nice dog poop on our door steps.

    which was even “funnier” as WE did not call the towtruck, because we didnt have to leave, our neighbor did because she had to go, and couldnt do with a cab.

  24. Matthew Murray,

    Your point about the double parking? The city really needs to crack down on that. If you drive on South Van Ness and Folsom much it is really out of hand. My take is that a lot of San Francisco drivers simply cannot parallel park for shit. They’re not confident doing it, so they don’t bother. I’m serious, tho it is borderline absurd.

  25. It’s definitely not a spot, which makes me think you’re all pretty cool for even having this debate. I guess some SF’ers still understand the concept of consideration. In any case, a ticket (or two — one for each driveway!) is definitely in order, and he should just be happy he wasn’t towed. Keep up the good fight.

    Not sure what’s going on with the Richmond-hater. Seems like an odd tactic to attack residents who weren’t responsible for city planning.

  26. dede honey-

    read back on my comments. I made my comment about parking in a driveway.

    my focus is on the greening of San Francisco, not some whining contest about people blocking driveways. besides, you spelled Cheerios wrong.

  27. UrbanSF7 – Thanks for the spelling correction. Bonus points for capitalization. As for your comments – they continue to be not so much (but not entirely) about the topic of this thread. Glad you care about greening the city as many do. Perhaps you can do it without insulting the person who has created this blog for your information, use, and pleasure.

  28. Dede,

    I’m used to it, especially from USF7 in particular. Let me just say he’s not, nor ever will be, on my list of architects to refer.


    It was actually towed, and the Richmond-hater is simply a Noe lover and doesn’t know any better. Possibly afraid to stray too far from the Castro.

    Fluj and MM,

    Totally agree on the double parking. Rolling down California is the same way.

    To all,

    Thanks for the great comments, just ignore USF7. He’s a bit of an ass. And I hear Alice radio’s Now and Zen concert in the park is this coming weekend. Will this car be back?

  29. A definite tow, we routinely have cars towed that do this. We even have cars towed that don’t go over the edge of our driveway because we live on a street people view as a freeway (7th). If we can’t pull in the driveway without having to cross over the traffic line they will tow it for us. Several pickup truck/SUV owners who create an impossible angle to get into our driveway have found their trucks missing after a tow in front of our house. Bottom line is when you do a crappy parking job, ask yourself if you can safely get in and out of the driveway you just blocked or parked near. If no, then move the vehicle to a different spot.

  30. First of all, I think it’s gentlemanly (or ladylike if you prefer) to try and avoid towing if possible. But if you need to move your car and you can’t, then that’s the way it goes.
    We had a car sit in front of our driveway for three days a couple months ago. Day one I left a note, day two I called in a ticket, and day three I finally had it towed to the delight of my three year old. We could drive around it with some maneuvering, so even after day three I actually felt a little bad, but at that point I figured it was probably abandoned.

    OT, but I have to respond to this post by 40yroldrenter:
    “Things are dicey out there. Layoffs are going to hit us all like a Tsunami in the next 3 months guaranteed. Hang in there everybody!”

    Things aren’t so bad if you are a renter. If you lose your job your savings+unemployment can keep you afloat for a *long* time (I think we could last at least a year at our current burn rate), and if your rent is too expensive you can always move without any significant penalty.

    But homeowners are going to be hurting and vulnerable. All of my friends are homeowners, so I’m not enjoying this, but on the other hand 4YOR has been mocking renters all year, so I can’t resist pointing out some of the hidden benefits of renting.

    Apologies for the OT comment. :)

  31. I’ll add that I think Hector’s stance as stated above is reasonable considering the busy street location. Safety first.
    Our street is wide and relatively quiet, so I can afford to show a fair amount of mercy.

  32. Hey fluj,

    I live in Bernal too and boy does it steam me when I see cars – particularly unfamiliar ones – parked in the same spot for days or even weeks at a time. Asshats who use our streets as long-term airport parking or second-car parking are a big problem in BH. While these cars can’t be immediately ticketed or towed, you *can* call 311 and report the car as having been parked longer than 72 hours. Even on streets with no specified limit, the parking limit is 72 hours. They promise to send a DPT agent out within two business days. They will chalk the tires and leave a pink-slip 48-hour warning, and will initiate a ticket and tow on their own after the 48 hour warning has expired.

    On my street in BH neighbors look out for each other, so I don’t do this on cars I recognize. Frequently my neighbors will let me know when they’re going away so I know to keep an eye out for suspicious activity around their house or car. But on cars I don’t recognize – and especially cars parked half a space away from the corner or other jerkoff idiot parking jobs – I’ll call 311 after the grace period, without hesitation. You have to be patient, but it does work! Either the offender moves the car, or they get a ticket/tow after the warning period. Either way, I’ve given them a chance to move before calling for a tow, and there’s no possibility of retaliation since the call is anonymous.

    Call 311 – that’s what they’re there for! :)

  33. Use as a target for an egg tossing contest and THEN have it towed. ONly a B&T’er would be stupid/rude/self-absorbed enough to do that.

  34. If I can manage to get out: Leave rude note.

    If I cant get out: I may puncture two of your tires (seriously) and NOT call DPT on you. Watching you call the tow truck yourself is more fun!

  35. I’d definitely tow the car just because it has to do with the festival. The last festival in golden gate park was so loud that it was impossible for me to study for my upcoming exam. There was trash everywhere along with heavy traffic. This time was pretty much the same. Dealing with all that and having someone block my driveway is just too much.

  36. Cath, you are incorrect. You can block your own driveway without a permit. I don’t have the code # in front of me, but I successfully fought a ticket I received for parking for longer than 2 hours without a permit while parked across my own driveway.

    The curb between my neighbors garage and mine is big enough to fit a Mini or a Smart car, but not much else. We give DPT warnings for first offenses, tickets for second and towing for third. We’ve only had to tow a couple of times in 10 years. You can download a PDF of the DPT flier here-

  37. I don’t know about the Richmond District, but here in the Mission, literally half of the garages aren’t used to store cars. They’re full of junk, or businesses, or have been converted to housing, or workshops, etc. etc. The driveway curb cut is obsolete, YET — here’s the lame bit — residents/owners think it’s their personal parking spot. On-street parking is cut nearly in half because of all the driveway curbcuts. What’s worse is often the residents/owners still think the driveway is their personal parking spot and will call in tickets/tows. Totally lame. We should charge property owners for their monopoly of public curb space — particularly for driveways that lead to garages with space for one or fewer cars. Re: the photo — clearly a lame parking maneuver, but what if the garages weren’t even being used for cars?

  38. Sally, that’s what I was saying. We never towed or ticketed a car without having to open our garage, show our car waiting inside or outside, and explain that we had to move in or out.
    I dont know if it was just those DPT officers, if it depends on the ‘hood, or what… but I think it’s an overly fair rule.

  39. Sally,

    Great point! In this case, both driveways are used. But totally hear you on the garages used as storage or not for parking. That, to me, is lame. This city is full of pack rats, and being in the business of going into many, many homes, you’d be surprised at what I see. I’d bet 7 out of 10 homes (on average) use their garage for things other than parking. Imagine how much parking would be freed up if people just parked in their garages instead of storing cans of SPAM for the inevitable tsunami?!

  40. Matthew Murray:
    It is perfectly OK to block one’s own driveway even if the surrounding edges are painted red. DPT enforces blocked driveway stuff only if the resident calls and asks.

    On other topics, this is so egregrious I would definitely have it towed. It is amazing how little attention people pay to parking. People routinely ignore the red zone in front of my driveway. I usually just ticket (and then only if they are clearly overhanging the driveway), but once people are 2 feet or so into the driveway I tow because at that point I may not be able to get out of my driveway (at least not without risking damaging my car).

    Oddly, people have knocked on our door to complain about being ticketed even when they were clearly illegally parked (Once even when we did not ticket them ,just left them a little flyer downloaded from the DPT site) Talk about feeling entitled!

  41. I will have to make a mental note of the crappy parking in so many nieghborhoods next time we get into a “best hood” discussion.

    And the lack of trees in the Richmond (and Noe)

  42. be careful Sparky! you’re getting off the topic now and talking ’bout lack of trees in certain ‘hoods. they dont like that here.

    play by the rules or go home.

  43. Here is the ultimate dick manuver.

    I had parked a car 6″ into a driveway “red zone” but not in the driveway…ie not where the curb dipped (so definitely not blocking the driveway). I didn’t have to use my car for 6 days so when I came out to move it six days later for street cleaning it had 6 tickets on it, one for each day…rather than having the car towed, the a$$h*le had called DPT each day and had a $75 ticket put on my car…since it was around the block from my home I had no idea that I was accruing the tickets.

    Not only vindictive but required the jerk to call DPT and come down to the curb to register the complaint six consecutive days.

    I think the reason I wasn’t towed was because I wasn’t “blocking” the driveway.

    I personally wouldn’t call DPT unless the car was clearly blocking a driveway.

  44. I was visiting a friend just last week and it was an absolute nightmare to park near her apartment. If someone had parked in a tight spot but I was able to leave my garage then it shouldn’t be an issue to overhang slightly. ONLY IF I COULD LEAVE MY GARAGE.
    I love this City!! Big Love San Franciscans xx
    Phil London

  45. tboj you are lucky it wasn’t towed for being abandoned. 72 hours is the max you can leave your car in one spot, even with a permit. After that you are supposed to move it at least 1/10th of a mile away. The code is T37A.

  46. Write a note … and make it good. Once, when trying to park in a crowded parking lot, I noticed a car that was piggigshly parked so as to take up both of the sole remaining 2 spaces in the lot. The car had a “WWJD” bumper sticker (translation: “What would Jesus Do”). So I placed a note on the jerk’s windshield that read, “Jesus would not park like an asshole.”

  47. We live on a very busy 4 lane street and have 5 cars which go in and out of the garage, 3 of them on a daily basis (multi-family bldg – not all ours!). We have DPT red paint on either side of our driveway and enforce the red zone even if the cars don’t block the driveway because we need that space in order to get a decent angle backing out. If we don’t have that space, we have to back up across at least three lanes of traffic on a very busy street. People just don’t think. Did I mention that there is a public parking lot right across the street?

  48. “I had parked a car 6″ into a driveway “red zone” but not in the driveway…ie not where the curb dipped (so definitely not blocking the driveway).”

    I got a ticket for this too, at 8pm on a Sunday no less. I think it’s bullshit that people can have curbs painted red that aren’t blocking driveways. I tried to fight my ticket for this one, but it didn’t work. Homeowners who are assholes like this need to just die, really. If someone isn’t inconveniencing you then let it go. This was on 19th at Noe.

    As for the picture in this post, that’s just ridiculous.

  49. Re lack of trees as complained about by the idiotic urbanSF7: that particular slice of sidewalk has “just a few” pipes under it — notice the access hatches. I see four, just in this photo. Thus, planting trees would be impossible. USF7 would know this if he ever did a tree planting with FUF or otherwise bothered educating himself on the subject.

  50. the reason you weren’t towed, is because the person whose driveway you were blocking didn’t request it.
    Towing is by request-only for blocked driveways.
    If they can maneuver around you, they might just feel annoyed enough to have you ticketed only.

    Some lame ass woman blocked our driveway yesterday: was a full 2 feet into the RED ZONE, and with cars parked across the street on our narrow little SF block, it’s impossible to make the turn in or out of the driveway.
    Hence, the RED ZONE.
    She insisted that only her TIRES needed to be out of the RED ZONE, and since the back 3 FEET of her station wagon were IN the driveway, it wasn’t illegal.
    It was hilarious watching her try to argue with the Parking Control Officer, with 20+ years experience ticketing blocked driveways, the lame ass woman yelling at the Officer and me! rude as hell, and we both calmly telling her: no, she’s wrong. She could have been towed.
    And next time, she will be!

  51. I always feel bad ticketing or towing. I live in a house with 2 garages and a small space in between. A honda del sol or mini cooper fits, thats about it. last year i payed 400 dollars to repair my front axl from driving over curb. ive also missed worked on a few occasions and been late countless times. last week a van was blocking both driveways. i honked for a good 20 minutes,no one came out. a neighbor told me which house the car belonged to, a block up. I knock and knock and no one answers. i knock for 15 minutes, a guy comes out and moves the car,with no apology at all. he even gave the attitude that i was the dick to ask him to move. i saved him a few hundred dollars because the other tenant where i live was gonna tow. some people are aplogoetic and just ignorant and some are just all around rude. so how are we(those with blocked driveways” to know the difference. I honk then leave a note. if they are blocking severly i ticket. tow if i cant get out. or tow on site of second time. if they park there a second time afer you leave a note, thats just a slap in your face. i pay property tax and want to get in my driveway and garage that i pay for.

  52. I just called the towing number.
    I learned an interesting “feature”: once the DPT car has acknowledged the car on site, you can choose to let the officer try to contact the owner to have him/her move the car – with a single ticket. (if address matching the license plate is within a couple blocks of the parked car).

    Pretty cool, because I still think it sucks to have a neighbor towed if we can avoid it.

  53. Tow his butt. I must have OCD for checking both ends of my car when parking. It’s just good manners to respect someone’s property rights as I expect them to be considerate of mine.

  54. It might raise the question “how much over is over”, but it doesn’t beg the question. Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which one assumes a statement to be true without providing any evidence. I know this sounds pedantic, but it really isn’t. It’s akin to saying “two wrongs make a right” when one is talking about directions in traffic, or mentioning something is a red herring when one is talking about migratory behavior of fish (if they even exhibit such behavior).

    More direct to the question though, I would definitely say that is NOT a spot. Sometimes a car stuck in the driveway can “sneak” around rude people who block said driveway, but I don’t understand why dimensionally challenged drivers think they have the right to inconvenience everyone around them just to get a “spot”.

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