Parking Wisdom: Mind Your Bumpers and the Curb Cuts

Stencils of Doom

Our fashion-obsessed friends at 7×7 recently published some useful information about San Francisco parking regulations that may be of interest to the residents of our parking-challenged neighborhood.

Specifically, the question has to do with how close to a driveway “curb-cut” can you park without getting a ticket. The short answer is to avoid the sloping parts of the curb cut. The longer answer goes something like this:

“My bumper was in the part of the curb that curves down into the driveway.” It would make sense that you thought of the sloped portion of the curb as being part of the curb, because it is part of the curb. You are correct, and the best argument you could make would be: when the curb was constructed, that’s when that sloped part was made. It was not part of the driveway construction, it was part of the curb construction. So, you did not, by definition, block a driveway.  This argument, as logical as it is, may be worth a shot, but to win, it would mean overturning the law, because I am sorry to tell you my friend, the sloped part of the curb, or the “curb cut” as SFMTA calls it, is actually legally considered to be part of the driveway.

One thing I’ve learned in this life is that the law isn’t always so logical…or maybe it is. Maybe there is some wisdom in making that sloped part of the curb legally part of the driveway. I would bet that when they were making the law, some engineer considered this: In order to turn into a narrow driveway, your front car wheel must be just on the outer edge of your driveway when turning into it so that your back wheels can make it in too. And if your front wheel is just at that very edge, the fender and bumper are going to go into and over the space in question and hit another car if it is parked in that space. I think that’s the reasoning, but only those in that situation would ever have thought of it. And that’s why there were 28,277 of these citations handed out last year.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

8 thoughts on “Parking Wisdom: Mind Your Bumpers and the Curb Cuts

  1. Yeah, I am lucky enough to have a garage, but unlucky enough that the edge of my garage is very close to the edge of the curb cut. So much so that if anyone is parked projecting into the curb cut it becomes extremely, extremely difficult to back out of the garage. I’ve only had to call the MTA once, though, and the person actually showed up and moved their car before the meter maids got there. Which is fine, I’m not wanting anyone to get ticketed/towed, just to be more careful about how they park.

  2. Whenever you park close to a driveway, you should consider what it would be like if you were getting your car out of that driveway/garage. And on narrow streets you can’t just back straight out of the driveway, you have to start curving which means you need a bit more than the width of your car.

    • So true, Rusty! Now if only our cars could bend it would be so much easier to get out of these garage/narrow street situations.

  3. Logic would actually lead me to conclude the curb cut was constructed for the driveway, not as part of the curb. How else would one know where to put it?

  4. We have a very narrow barn style garage door and need every inch to get into the parking space – when the driveway is “blocked” we can not get in or out and then need to park on the street and take up a space that someone else could have used – remember, your bumper and rear mounted tire are part of your car – thanks

  5. just spring the money to have your curb painted. i think they will paint a foot on each side depending on the situation. we have one foot on one side and feet on another because I told them i didn’t want to potentially prevent someone from parking in the large space out front our house. People made up the rules all the time in front of our house, the curb is only 5 feet wide, but now there is no more question because MTA red curbs.

  6. I have two cars per month towed because people simply park and leave (and by leave I mean leave half of they’re car in my driveway).

    When I park my car, I actually take the time to get out and make sure I fit. Sure my neighbors hate me, but after 19 years of playing nice gay (yes pun intended and happy gay pride) …game over, I ain’t knocking on no more doors and when I call MTA, I ask for both ticket and tow…once you hit someones wallet they learn.

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