Parking Problem on Prospect Prompts Poignant Post About Proper Notification Procedure (and a Not-Nice Neighbor)

Bad Parking

There’s been a parking problem on Prospect Street this week which highlights a few of the themes we’ve touched on recently here at Bernalwood; namely, The Essence of Neighborliness, and the Fine Line Between Engaged Activism and NIMBY Narcissism.

This note was posted yesterday on the Bernalheights mailing list, and is reprinted in its entirety here by permission:

Subject: I’m pretty bummed at some Bernal “Neighbours” this Holiday
Date:     December 27, 2010 1:02:54 PM PST

I just placed my third phone call to yet another very grateful neighbour whose car has been tagged on the 100 Block of Prospect for towing, despite a note that they were happy to have someone move the car while they were visiting relatives for the holidays. In each case, the cars have been moved within hours.

My understanding is that all taggings are the result of a neighbour specifically calling the license plate number into DPT.

Really, neighbour, is it easier to deal with 311 and smack a fellow resident with a 90-dollar fine than it is to place a simple phonecall to a human being and say, “Yes, I need you to move your car, please?” (Though I would love to hear your reason for needing these cars moved so desperately, as they aren’t even on the side of the street that’s got homes on it, so it’s not like they are blocking your driveway.)

It would seem we’ve got a neighbour who has added “checking cars for movement like a hawk” to their Holiday to-do list, as these cars are getting tagged so fast that I swear I’ve never even seen some of them before they turn up with a tag on ’em- and my front window overlooks them all. In fact, I woke to a start this morning realizing I hadn’t had reason to leave the house since Christmas eve, and worried that maybe mine was already gone. This is just silly. It’s the holidays! Even people who are at HOME aren’t driving around every day.

Also, it makes our street look super junky and like it’s a dumping ground when you come home to 5 perfectly cared-for, non-abandoned cars chalked to all hell with WARNING notices taped to the windshield. It’s just an eyesore.

So, neighbours, can we talk this through? Can we find a way to work this out as neighbours without involving DPT? I should think a simple courtesy call is the least we can do this time of year.


Photo: A demonstration of proper Bernal Heights parking-notification technique. Photo by Tucker Perry, via the Bernalwood group.

18 thoughts on “Parking Problem on Prospect Prompts Poignant Post About Proper Notification Procedure (and a Not-Nice Neighbor)

  1. Yeah, Prospect is a pain to park on. There’s no street cleaning, so the residents of that street feel like it’s their moral civic duty to personally flag each car they don’t recognize that remains in a spot for longer than 12 hours. I am not exaggerating. It’s been this way for as long as I’ve live in the neighborhood, about 4 years now. I avoid parking on Prospect for just this reason, and I’m sure that’s exactly what those busybody street residents want.

    • The irony here is that, were Prospect a street-cleaning street, one could carpool to Tahoe with friends, take public transport to the airport for a holiday trip, walk to the store instead of drive for a few days in a row, and any other number of “good citizen” moves without fear of getting towed or ticketed (so long as they timed it right.)

  2. I had some guy on Prospect yell at me after I had parked my car and crossed the street. He said “The guy that lives there will tow your car if you are even an inch in the red” I double-checked and I was not, he then realized it. I replied “Your neighbor is a jerk and needs to lighten up” As I got to the end of the street I noticed the guy walking into the house near my car.

  3. Even though that car’s in the red, it still looks like it fits in that spot. Is it so hard just to drive around it when entering/exiting the driveway?

    • The car is at least 6 inches out of the red on both sides (that’s really not fitting into a space) and into the narrow driveways. Scraping your car to get out especially if someone has parked close on the other side is not how I like to treat my car.

    • This happens at our place all the time near precita park. There is a spot next to our driveway *barely* big enough for a mini cooper, but full size sedans and trucks park there all the time. Even if I could escape my driveway carefully with an inch on each side, I have to back straight out for much longer than I normally would (if someone parked normally) and if there is a car parked on the other side of the street, there is no room to cut the turn before hitting the car behind you. The red is there for a reason, to give turning radius out of your driveway. I wish people would just respect this instead of muttering to themselves “Well, they can still sort of get out, so it’s fine.”

    • No fucking way should that car try to park in that spot. I’m all for leniency and reasonableness when it comes to enforcement, but that car is a foot into each driveway.

      I lived on Precita for 4 years. As the other JB noted, it can be very difficult to pull out and turn around on the narrow lanes of Bernal. People need to have some consideration and common sense.

      That goes both ways too. There’s no place on this earth for useless “neighbors” who call cars in just because they can, or just because someone’s an inch in the red.

    • If a car on the other side of either driveway was also parked like that, you couldn’t get in or out of your house without scraping your car. Try doing that at 9 pm with a 3 yo who has just drifted off to sleep in the backseat. It’s wonderful.

  4. As a Bernal resident whose driveway is bracketed by two Smart Car sized spots, I have the following policy which I think is fair:

    – If the car actually blocks my driveway preventing me from getting by car in or out, no mercy. Towed, ticketed, whatever I have to do.

    – If the car drastically inconveniences me such that the driver really should have known better, they get a warning note like the above.

    – If I recognize the same car semi-blocking again, I’ll call it in for a ticket.

    – If it’s a technical violation but I don’t really have trouble getting out, no action. No harm, no foul.

    Having had parking in Bernal after having not had parking (and honestly, I’ve probably fudged a few small parking spots in my time) this seems like the appropriate way to go.

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  7. Though this is an older post– I am realizing the photo selected by Bernalwood to spruce up the piece might have led you all to an incorrect conclusion. My letter (yes, that was me) was in regards to the 72-Hour Rule. Specifically, neighbours calling in cars for violation when they clearly had a note explaining the plight, the address, the phone number– and nowhere near anyone’s driveway. Not even parked on the side of the street with driveways/houses on it.

    Ironically- Now that the warm-fuzzy holidays are over, neighbors seem to have laid down their 311-dialing arms and stopwatches, as I’ve not seen a single “Move or Get Towed” notice from the city on our block since the first week of January.

      • Oh, I have no problem with the conversation heading in a different direction. Namely: “Should the car in this photo be parked in this spot?” That’s fine.

        I realized that the text of the letter never explicitly states that it was in reaction to towings on Prospect Street due to the 72 Hour rule, NOT towings due to driveway blocking. So I thought I’d make that clear here (albeit after the fact), lest people thought I was saying that driveway-blockers should be able to leave a note with their phone number and expect neighbours to call them to move their cars.

        I assume lots of people will be coming over to this comment thread from the other post about the SmartCar, so just want to be clear on the spirit of the open letter, in case people backtrack and read the original post.

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