Parking Love Letters, San Francisco Style & The Red DPT Curb

Judging by the hand-writing, we’d say the author of this love letter was female, approximately 38-45 years old (not a Cougar), mother of….we’ll say two, likely drives a Volvo or Mercedes “SUV”, we’re thinking blond hair, light colored eyes, ponytail, and definitely not the life of the party. You?


Happy Friday…somebody needs a f*cking cocktail!

[Editor’s Note: According to a follow up email from the person that sent the “love letter”, the car was not blocking the driveway like this, but was apparently “not even hanging over one inch into the drive, but definitely blocked the 1 foot of red DPT paint on the curb.”]

[Update: The discussion has begun, and if you’d care to comment on more than this love letter…specifically whether the red DPT curb (fake or not) can have legal implications, you’re cordially invited to join in.]

31 thoughts on “Parking Love Letters, San Francisco Style & The Red DPT Curb

  1. Right, because people with two children, nice cars, and a pony tail don’t have the same rights to their driveway as other people. Another view might be that someone with two children is far more inconvenienced by a blocked driveway than say a young, single person. I would be frustrated too if I just “mobilized” my family to go to school, the dentist, a play date, etc. and once I had spent 30 minutes getting the three of us out of the house and into the car I couldn’t get out of my driveway.

    [Editor’s Note: According to a follow up email from the person that sent the “love letter”, the car was not blocking the driveway like this, but was apparently “not even hanging over one inch into the drive, but definitely blocked the 1 foot of red DPT paint on the curb.” You never know who to believe in situations like this. Thanks for the comment.]

  2. The red DPT stuff always cracks me up. First, a caveat: I am fine if a home-owners calls and gets DPT to either tow or provide a ticket if a car is parking across the red DPT (a ticket seems more appropriate though). After all, the homeowner has to pay the city *each year* (I believe..and it’s not cheap) to pay for those red DPT curbings. If they want to add to the city-coffers just for the few feet, I’m ok with that extra city $$.

    That being said, for the home-owners that paint ‘fake’ DPT red areas around their house, I almost always purposely pull my car up and park IN their fake red area…you didn’t pay the city for those yet you’re trying to scheme it so folks don’t park their – shame on you. Good luck calling the city and requesting a ticket as they’ll likely ticket you for an illegal DPT curb.

    Frontsteps, I’d love to hear more about all these fake DPT paintings..can a homeowner actually get fined for putting a fake DPT red-curb?

  3. I think it is worth noting that there is a drawback to having the DPT paint your curbs red: the homeowner can no longer block their own driveway. In SF it is legal for the homeowner/resident to block their own driveway all day long but my understanding is as soon as you have the curbs painted red no car may block the red curb area.

    Question: does the red curb have any legal impact in terms of violations. Is a blocked red curb a more serious parking violation than just blocking a curb?

  4. thanks Dan for your comment. As a red-curb owner, it prompted me to check.
    Red zone (driveway tips) (2008/09)
    RED ZONE $80 (application) $73 (paint) $153 (total)


    Red Zone
    Red zones are “No Parking” zones. Red zones may be installed near intersection corners, at certain bus stops, fire hydrants, curb ramps, and most commonly, at the edges of driveways. Driveway red zones are intended to provide additional turning and clearance for vehicles entering and exiting driveways. When driveway red zones are requested, consideration is also given to the preservation of adjacent parking spaces.

    Some driveway red zones may not be approved for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to: the loss of legitimate parking spaces (for example, where a 15-feet to 19-feet space exists between driveways on streets with parallel parking) or over-wide, abandoned or improperly constructed driveways. Because application fees are non-refundable, assessing your specific driveway situation prior to applying for driveway red zones is advised.

    Standard driveway red zone installations are two-foot red zones on each side of the driveway. Multiple driveways of the same property are invoiced accordingly (see fee schedule). Driveway red zones are not required to be renewed at regular intervals and may be repainted on an as-needed basis upon request. Renewal requests are fee-required and include the processing fee as well as the paint/installation fee. The new requests are reviewed again and may be subject to denial.

    When applying, please do not combine processing and paint/installation fees. Please send only the processing fee with your application. See Fee Schedule (pdf)

  5. Last summer around these parts a guy was going door to door offering to paint red zones on driveways. No badge. Wonder if it was a scam from an individual or a scam by the City to collect revenue?

  6. We have perpendicular parking on my street because it is steep. We also have a narrow garage/driveway like most other San Franciscans lucky enough to have a garage. I usually let it slide if it’s just a question of worring about bashing driver’s side and passenger’s side rear views while I might back out. I can handle the tight angle. That will get a note similar to the one above, except it won’t be about “red,” but rather “driveway.” But if it’s any more than that, and I’m cutting it as I back up, on my own driveway. Screw you. I’m not being neighborly. You’re either towed or ticketed. Or both.

  7. screw the red – if 1mm of your bumper is even slightly protruding into the SLOPE of a curb-cut, DPT WILL ticket you. And if a property owner calls it in claiming that their driveway is blocked (even if its not) DPT will also TOW YOUR CAR. This happend to me when living around Alamo Square several years back. I was shocked that DPT would do this, and even more shocked that someone could claim that I was blocking their driveway when the curb cut on either side was not painted red. In this case, and in some others if you look around, the slope of the curb cut was actually unusually long (3 feet or so) which made it all the more ridiculous.

  8. Yes not hanging over the curb cut BUT being within the red part of the curb CAN be an issue if the car block visibility to exit the garage which is exactly the case for our apartment building. Be SUV’s parked with 3 feet of the curb cut within our red zone blocks being able to see what traffic is coming down the one way narrow street where we live. One person can easily affect the 45 people living in the apartment building. Basically some people just look out for “number one” and could care less about anything 1 centimeter beyond their nose. Go screw the rest of the world…tragedy of the commons…

  9. Blocking my driveway is tantamount to kidnapping my cat. It’s a felony.

    When I put a sign like this one on the offending vehicle, I normally use a heavy amount of Gorilla Glue to make sure it sticks. Access to my driveway and garage is considered sacred.

  10. I had a very hard time (10 point turn..) getting out of my side by side double car garage, so I called it in. The DPT cop made me show her that there were actually 2 cars parking in the garage, otherwise she was not going to give a ticket. But generally I think if a car can reasonably get in and out it’s fair. Based on my experience I would guess it’s a luck of the draw who comes out from DPT if you get a ticket or not when it’s questionable.

  11. Oh and this particular DPT cop said it was the garage door they look at for what they consider, not the curb cut.

  12. I got ticketed for one of those bullshit red zones by a driveway. I wasn’t blocking the driveway or garage at all but I was in the red (which was about 5x as long as necessary). What a scam.

  13. Thanks Sophie…so it seems from the link that it’s not actually a yearly cost (unless the homeowner wants it re-painted each year or something)…interesting, that makes it cheaper.

    But I thought I read somewhere that if the red DPT curb paint is very faded, it is not enforceable anymore (ie, the homeowner has to pay to get it re-painted at some sort of interval…kinda vague).

  14. We had a driveway for my fraternity house at Cal and it was obviously a driveway, usually full of cars. But sure enough, every now and then a self-centered leftist would park in front of it, blocking it off. With a few friends, there’s a technique to picking up and moving a car, it’s not that hard.

  15. i got towed from the marina. i was literally less than an inch into the driveway. a nice huge one btw. i drive a miata so i wasnt blocking their view coming out either. so i got the nice 300 towing fee plus a 75 ticket on my windshield. the best part was if you pull up the address i was towed on streetview there is a picture with a dumpster “parked” in the spot i was parked in, that was clearly longer than my car was and over hung much further. nice.

  16. It is about the turning ratio.

    My drive way is a normal width one. If the cars on both sides parked so perfectly that they are exactly at the curbs, it is very difficult to get out, especially if there are traffic on the street.

    And I had the red curb, and someone blocked the red paint, I would call to get it towed, instead of trying to back out, risking scratches on your bumper (and then, I would have to pay to fix it).

    It is better that you pay for the towing than I pay for fixing your bumper.

  17. Sure, if someone is blocking you in, I can understanding towing them. I think people who get their neighbors towed for having their cars slightly in a red zone when they can get in and out of their garage/driveway just fine are lame. I was almost towed once and it made me usually easy going happy go lucky person want to get them towed on a technicality too! Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to legislate against lameness.

  18. If you park in a legal red zone you are taking your chances. I really have no sympathy for people who say “I was only in the red zone” or “only one inch” into the driveway. Yeah right. The fact is that people need visibility and turning radius when backing out of a driveway. You may think that you are not interfering with a driveway, but you probably are. In any case, the decision is not yours. The law says that you aren’t supposed to park in a red zone. So please no whining and complaining when you get ticketed or towed for doing so. Just grow up and play by the rules.

  19. ^ I assume you have ridiculous red zones like the place I got a ticket.,+san+francisco,+ca&sll=37.509726,-95.712891&sspn=60.74449,135.351563&ie=UTF8&ll=37.759504,-122.432008&spn=0.000946,0.002065&t=h&z=20&layer=c&cbll=37.759479,-122.432011&panoid=0yzwzkqTQrNAc25TxWTiMw&cbp=12,8.63,,0,14.82

    Those red zones aren’t even on the driveway! The bushes hang out farther than they do and the garage isn’t even as wide as the space between the red. What is the point?

  20. Amazing how you can get a drivers license without understanding what a red zone is. It means don’t park there. That’s it, you don’t get to argue it. If you don’t like the rules then stop driving or pay the tickets.

  21. Uhh no, I don’t have a ridiculous red zone and actually have a narrow driveway. And, in fact, I only call DPT when people are parked so that they extend beyond the 12 inch red zone into my driveway. Yet, entitled/clueless drivers still sometimes knock on my door complaining about being ticketed or towed.

    The bottom line is that parking in a red zone is illegal. If you decide that the zone is “ridiculous” or “it is still physicially possible (I think) for the car to get out of the driveway” and conclude that you are therefore entitled to park there, you are taking your chances. And if you then whine about a ticket or a tow, you are the one who is lame.

  22. Yeah, no kidding. I’ve had the same thing happen. “Knock knock” “How could you ticket me?” “You could have just written a note”

    Are you kidding? I could/should have had you towed! I can’t get out of my garage!

    People are unbelievable sometimes.

  23. What about those homeowners who paint a 12 inch red zone on either side of their driveway? Is that legal? Can they be ticketed if the are not using the DPT logo just red paint?

  24. As a homeowner with a 3 car garage I have never had anyone towed or ticketed. There was a woman next door who had people ticketed and towed at whenever possible. One day I told her that it was $300 for the tow plus the ticket. That slowed her down a bit I hope.

  25. TO noearch …. Be a good neighbor. Also, don’t forget the person knows where you live. Jezz. You do sound like a cat person.

  26. @Fluj: Ironically, one of the more irate persons to knock on my door was someone who I had merely left a note for. I had seen the car around before and therefore decided to be neighborly. I left a standard issue DPT note (downloadable from their website) that just points out that it is illegal to block a driveway (in other words, a polite note without any four letter words). Then the offender knocks on my door and harrangues me claiming that other people park there and block my driveway more so I should allow them to block my driveway (or something like that — their argument wasn’t entirely cogent).

    So much for trying to be polite. In any case, they haven’t parked there again. And I still only ticket or tow the most egregious people. But, really, if someone’s car extends beyond the redzone into the driveway, I can’t understand how they can complain about being ticketed.

  27. There is someone overhanging my curb cut at this moment. He’s been there for three days. I left a note, saying the following: “Please do not overhang my curb cut in the future. This is not the first time your vehicle has parked in this manner. I do not wish to be uptight, but I’d rather have you towed than risk banging rear view mirrors. Most San Franciscans would have had you towed without warning.” We’ll see what happens. There are a bunch of burnouts in Bernal Heights. This dude’s car has got dents and scratches all over it.

    Sigh. Trying to be neighborly. He’ll probably get mad about it tho. People do not know where there bread is buttered.

  28. If it’s RED it is red for a reason.. some cars are so tight in the driveway to get into our garages we have to back directly out.. you cant cut the curb and miss the car… the garage doors in some places in the city are only like under 7 feet.. and the planning dept is reluctant to make them bigger fearing the loss of parking on the street.. go figure so they just start wars since they won’t fix the system and the system keeps repeating itself.. typical of the government in sf.. if you don’t want something to bitch about them make our government enforce a plan that works for all i bet you the lover letter would not have been written if that person wasn’t forced to park in a garage to small for the avg car… yet to get your curb resized and cut is never to happen if the planning dept has their way.. enjoy your love letters looks like they are not going to stop anytime soon. :) happy wednesday!

  29. Maybe one of you Noe Valley Posters lives here:,-122.432928&spn=0.009484,0.017209&hnear=1426+Fillmore+St,+San+Francisco,+California+94115&t=m&z=16&layer=c&cbll=37.750562,-122.433042&panoid=Da5xhnwncnLSq9adwGy6sw&cbp=12,176.75,,0,5.95

    Note, the occupant of this “garage” has their white car in front. This occupant had my car towed a few years ago. I recall it was at least $400 to recover it.
    The only problem is that, it’s not a real garage. You’d have to look from the side, but it’s too short for a normal car. Maybe a SmartCar might fit, but no Smart Car lives here. The city claims the traffic control person has to look in the garage first and find a vehicle, but this could not have happened. No vehicle is ever in this garage. So in the war of bad parkers vs. inconsiderate garage owners, the city apparently sides a little too strongly with the owners. This isn’t even legal, but they get away with it, so they can own a street parking place. Also apparently the height of inconsideration. And by the way, they did leave a note at first. I found it on the car when I recovered it. I guess I wasn’t quick enough.

    Want more?,-122.431783&spn=0.000593,0.001076&hnear=1426+Fillmore+St,+San+Francisco,+California+94115&t=m&z=20&layer=c&cbll=37.750382,-122.431775&panoid=rbYcD18z6iWNTULipxaXnw&cbp=12,85.91,,0,5.16

    This is a curb cut, but there’s no place behind it for a vehicle to go. I asked the city to have the curb cut removed. The owners told them they might want a car there some day so the the city won’t make them remove it. They keep up a No-Parking sign. They have a 3 car garage around the corner.

  30. Anyone have a pantone match to the DPT color? I want to touch up the existing (very limited) red zone near my building’s garage. Don’t want to pay almost $300 — and have them expand the zone, which they would likely do.

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