Owner of That Big Yellow School Bus Tells His Side of the Parking Story

reported for towing

The yellow school bus that’s often parked on Bernal Heights Boulevard is a regular focus of a) curious speculation, and b) abandoned vehicle reports filed by Bernal neighbors.

Suffice to say, the bus is not abandoned, nor is it used for residential occupancy. It belongs to Neighbor Alex, and Neighbor Alex would like to address his neighbors directly to provide an alternate perspective on the parking-enforcement aggressiveness directed at his vehicle.

I’ve been thinking too long about how to respond to Bernalwood (and even the hilarious comments), because I really want to address parking in Bernal on Bernalwood, but in the best way possible. This requires a combination of humor about and evidence of the ridiculous charades that go on in our neighborhood that I and others find so depressing. Anyways, I’m feeling inspired now.

I have tons of stories about parking in Bernal and my street, Shotwell, in particular but I think my favorite example about my bus and some psycho NIMBY neighbors happened a few weeks ago. Here goes:

I was on the east coast for a few days for a wedding, and my bus was parked up on Bernal Blvd as usual. When I’m in SF, I check on it everyday to make sure it hasn’t been vandalized or broken into (I put in LED fake candles and put down the curtains to make it appear as if someone is living in it and deter vandals/burglars). I also check daily to see if someone has put one of those yellow 72 HOUR PARKING notices on the window + chalked the tires, so I know I have to move it in a few days.

Because I was out of town, I asked my friend to check on the bus for me. He reported that everything was cool–there was no yellow sign–but that the tires were marked with the date being that day. So? That means someone 1) called the SFMTA, 2) reported the bus as an abandoned vehicle, and 3) waited till the yellow sign was applied 4) removed that sign so that I would hopefully not see the chalked tires, think everything was cool, and then find that my bud was towed 72 hours later and LEARN MY LESSON.

Now, I’ve talked to enough Parking Control Officers to know that when one of those yellow signs gets posted, it’s because a citizen called it in. And I’ve had enough posted on my bus the last 2 years to know how awfully tough the glue is on it. So yeah, I’m positive someone removed it with the intent to really hurt me. Luckily, I had been anticipating this and had the bus moved so it wasn’t towed.

Maybe the worst part was that this neighbor hadn’t called in for a yellow sign to be placed for weeks. I think they were trying to lull me into not checking so they could screw me over.

All in all, this vigilante stuff is pathetic and dark. One of my roommates, who is too lazy to register her car in CA and has Florida plates on her immaculate luxury volvo sedan, gets her car keyed and insane notes left on it.

By the way, it’s not like I’m not from a city. Lived in Bernal 3 years and I’m originally from D.C. where the Secret Service can just tow your car to a different spot if they need to, without telling you before during or after.

Thanks for listening.

We are grateful to Neighbor Alex for sharing his perspective, and we would now like to issue a humble plea to all Ye Citizens of Bernalwood…

Over time, I have learned that learned that there is no topic on this cozy neighborhood blog that inspires as much venom as controversies about street parking in Bernal Heights. So while strong opinions are, as always, welcome, let us also remember that neighborly courtesy and respect are the cardinal virtues that make Bernal Heights so very Bernal.  Play nicely in the sandbox, please.

PHOTO: Top, the bus, by Giggie Larue. Below, a note placed on the bus last week, courtesy of Neighbor Alex.

161 thoughts on “Owner of That Big Yellow School Bus Tells His Side of the Parking Story

    • Independent of this bus, my experience in San Francisco has been that the main objection to creating dense, more livable cities is opposition to greater density. Not just Bernal; pretty much any residential neighborhood around town.

      • First off, I said “one of”, second that is patently wrong, people do want denser, more livable cities, as evidenced by the overwhelming popularity of Sunday Streets and the fact that people like to travel to European cities. What people don’t want is to give up is abundant free or low cost parking. Alex School Bus thinks he lives in the suburbs, not the 2nd most dense city in the US.

    • Who says that people want denser cities, or, at least, that people in San Francisco want San Francisco to be a denser city? That suggestion certainly does not seem to be born out by the reaction any time denser housing is attempted in neighborhoods.

      And to argue that Sunday Streets is evidence of something like that is just laughably absurd.

    • Todd is correct, the primary impediment to density increases in San Francisco is the population. Street festivals are irrelevant to city planning, the only thing that really matters to that is showing up to permit hearings and supporting projects that increase density, and doing so in more force than those that are always there to oppose it.

      Also, unless things have changed since I regularly parked on Bernal Blvd there’s usually plenty of room up there for a large vehicle. I regularly needed to park my (ridiculously long and beaten up) work truck up there any time I needed to part late in the evening.

  1. Sounds like a nice chap. Sorry to hear about the NIMBY parking drama. Maybe we should chip-in and buy him some wicked hydraulics, so he can raise the bus up really high and let additional cars park underneath?

    • Does sound like a nice chap, but parking a school bus on a city street in a neighborhood like Bernal is a tad bit ridiculous. This is a “private lot” recreational vehicle.

      • Any registered vehicle is entitled to park on the street. And no one has credibly suggested that his parking the bus there affects anything other than some people’s overly delicate parking sensibilities.

      • AMEN. If the vehicle is registered as a non-commercial vehicle, he has every right to park in front of anyone’s house or on any quiet street or anywhere there is a parking spot.

        COMMERCIAL VEHICLES: Pickup truck owners beware. If your license plate has mostly numbers and 1 letter such as 5V12345, you’re driving a COMMERCIAL vehicle and as such you are NOT entitled to the 72 hour parking allowance. You must park in a commercial district, not a residential one, or off-street in a private parking spot.

      • REGARDLESS: The city has allowed people to park their private vehicles on the street for up to 72 hours at a time. The people with Hondas had NO MORE RIGHT to park on the street than the school bus owner does. It just happens that his private vehicle is a bit larger than others. THAT IS ALL.

        I’d love to see a vigilante start tagging all those cars and motorcycles parked longer than 72 hours. The streets of Bernal Heights, especially on the hill, are an urban blight. Cute cottages are fronted by big ugly cars and pickup trucks. Cute little walkways are cluttered with motorcycles.

        As for me, I have offstreet parking. It was one of my considerations when I moved away from Bernal.

  2. Yeah, it’s strange and disturbing how crazy some Bernal residents are about parking. Like that lunatic who was objecting to someone parking on a block the parker didn’t live on. That was some particularly high-octane crazyjuice.

    • Agreed. It would be especially interesting to see how many people who complain about parking on their street, also have garages that are unusable (due to conversion into living spaces).

  3. While I understand that parking in Bernal is a touchy subject, and rightly so because parking is so limited here, the school bus doesn’t interfere with other parkers. Rarely are cars parked on Bernal Heights Blvd., except near the two entrances, and the bus is never parked there. Neighbor Alex, I sympathize with you for what sounds like purely vindictive behavior on the part of whoever called the bus in. I hope they will leave you alone now that you’ve spoken up and shown yourself to be a decent and considerate person.

    • Worth noting that parking in Bernal Heights is NOT so limited, relative to the rest of the city. Parking in Bernal is significantly easier than parking in many, if not most, of the other neighborhoods in SF.

      • It depends on what time you’re trying to park. after 11PM when people are home it can be difficult, although not impossible. But at most other times of the day, yes, it is not super hard.

  4. I’m not sure the point Alex is trying to make here? He got a yellow notice and someone(maybe the person who called it in) removed it. So now what? Some people are evil because they don’t want a big yellow bus parked in their neighborhood?
    Keep moving it every 72 hours and you should stay out of trouble. And yes, a big yellow bus is going to attract more attention than a 4 passenger car.
    I just have one question for you. Since you live in Pot Hill, why not park the bus near 7’th and Irwin by the train tracks? Seems like you wouldn’t have to contend with upsetting NIMBY neighbors.
    Good luck..

  5. I live in an 1880 Victorian with no garage on a one way street. It is very frustrating to observe neighbors not use their garages for convenience or street park vehicles which are not used regularly. I would suggest to Neighbor Alex that he find an appropriate storage facility for his bus. If he is going to live in San Francisco he should be respectful of his neighbors and certainly develop an understanding of the common courtesies expected when living in our city.

    • If I was parking in front of someone’s house or yard that would be one thing. But I’m not. Have you seen the area in contention here?

      Regardless, I will eventually be moving it to a secure storage facility for a number of reasons.

      • — and having said that, I’ll trade you parking your bus on city streets for a citywide sweep of all the San Franciscans abusing the disable hangtag privilege in this town. The epidemic of otherwise-able citizens who wrangle a free pass to park without feeding the meter or observing time-limits on car parking has achieved Herpes-like proportions.

  6. Neighbor Alex feels it’s OK for him to park a studio apartment on wheels for free on a public street, a vehicle that no doubt leaks oil and coolant into storm drains, is a gross polluter; next to a denuded but potentially beautiful piece of open space. If no one parks on Bernal Blvd, make it car free and expand open space in a part of the city that is sorely lacking it. No guys, Neighbor Alex is not a “nice chap” or a good neighbor, he’s a selfish, entitled individual.

      • I’ll explain it one more time. It’s a theory that a friend of mine has dubbed “The Bozo Bit”. When, in the process of talking to someone, you realize that they are a crazy person, you in effect “flip the bozo bit on them”, and accept that any further rational and logical discussion is pointless.

        To paraphrase the great U. Utah Phillips: “Trying to debate with a crazy person is like trying to debate a refrigerator. The light goes on and the light goes off, but there ain’t nobody home.”

    • The “entitled individual” I detect here is yourself. You take the same tack the Tea Party does – assume to speak for “the people”. Clearly as evidenced by the responses you are getting here, “the people” do not agree with you. And simply asserting that they do does not make it so. I am against all the “entitled” bicyclists who feel they should have complete access to the road, with none of the responsibilities to actually follow the rules of the road – you know – like stopping at lights and stop signs. But I do not purport to speak “for the people” on this issue. Best of luck in the political arena.

    • It’s not a gross polluter if it’s parked all the time. ZING! Also, Anthony, you can’t just assume it leaks. It’s parking location is (was?) so famous, you could have checked it out and reported the evidence to us.

      I have an 87 campervan van is totally buttoned up, and I also had a 97 minivan that leaked like crazy. It is now deceased btw. Can’t tell by looking, that is, unless you look underneath.

      “A stationary bus emits no exhaust.”
      – Old Cali Proverb

      I love you guys, and your Bernal way of life. You’re welcome to visit the La Lenguan taquerias anytime, and without a 30 day visa!

  7. Todd et. al: I thin that primary problem in this matter is that folks feel powerless over the things that matter in their lives. So they get all worked up over minutiae, the small things that they think they can actually impact. Thus NIMBY. I suggest four solutions: 1) get involved in some collective endeavor to improve the world – if you’re someone with (understandably) repressed anger, pick something aggressive, like Occupy Bernal or SF ACCE; 2) meditate; 3) exercise; and 4) have sex more often. I do two of these things, and they help a lot.

  8. I generally don’t read these parking postings. This time I did, to learn that one may only leave a vehicle for 72 hours in a given spot! I didn’t know that if someone parks near my house for more than three days, my hair should be standing on end. Since streets are only cleaned every other week, if even then, alot of folks just park until the next sweep. I understand and that’s how it goes
    Perhaps the expectation of a spot to go with a dwelling is more a suburban concept? As quaint and as charming we like to think Bernal is, it’s still a city.

    This is the last parking posting I’ll read….

    • Eugenie, the law is actually that you can’t leave your car in excess of 24 hours. What you’re confusing is that after 24 hours (or really whenever a neighbor picks up the phone and calls the SFMTA and merely says that car has been parking for 24 hours whether it’s true or not), a reported vehicle will have a yellow sign placed on it by the SFMTA that says you now have 72 hours to move the vehicle. So everyone who leaves there car for a day is technically breaking the law. That’s where the hypocrisy comes in. Pretty sure everyone has done that.

  9. calling your neighbors psycho? vigilantes? pathetic? stop. you’re ridiculous. neighborhoods do NOT benefit when folks buy enormous vehicles, park them on public streets, and actually OR pretend to live there.

    hope you and your “lazy” roommate start playing by the rules, and if not, i hope the neighborhood calls parking enforcement on you every….single…time. and no, not because of an abstract “intent to really hurt” you, but rather because (1) you are selfishly abusing something good that exists in bernal heights; (2) you aren’t very nice to and about your neighbors; and (3) you’re squandering government resources.

    • Sounds like we found one of the parking trolls. Is there a growing stash of yellow tow notices in your closet?

      You’re outraged because someone isn’t playing by your made up rules about who can park what on public streets. Considering the harassment and vigilante ‘justice’ that our neighbors have thrown at Alex, I think his response is pretty level headed. You, on the other hand, sound strangely vengeful and far nuttier than anyone else who’s been involved in this discussion.

      That bus is a pretty cool local enterprise that much of the community actually enjoys. I noticed on its FB page that Alex offered transportation to East Bay commuters during the BART strike. Talk about squandering government resources…

      • Can you enlighten us on your last paragraph, Jane? I’m not aware of how this bus is cool; how the community can enjoy the bus; or, even how it is a local enterprise.

        But, yes, cool that Alex offered to help out some commuters with his bus during the BART strike.

      • am amused….mostly because your defense of the ridiculous is so ridiculous.

        those “made up” rules? their codified. they were conceived, drafted, implemented and now enforced our city and county. they’re real, whether you like them, or are even aware of them. in fact, they’re quoted in part above.

        and although i respect your right, if not your decision, to call me “nutty,” may i respectfully remind you that is it is you, dear jane, who reads the facebook page of a bus.

      • jane, please share the facebook page with the rest of us. since some of us don’t know alex personally, so we don’t have the same access (or favorable bias) you have.

        i have never called parking enforcement–never, not once in my 12 years in bernal. please know, jane, that you–and you alone–have sufficiently antagonized me that i will now carry my phone every time i walk my dogs up the hill (often twice a day!) and document where the bus is parked. and if it has been parked for longer than the statutorily-allowed 72 hour period, i will call parking enforcement, and revel in knowing it was actually YOUR fault the bus got tagged. sorry in advance, alex, but, well, jane is MEAN.

      • I didn’t take you to be such a delicate flower based on the spite and amusement expressed in your previous posts, neighbor! Take a walk with your dog friends, enjoy the view on Bernal and calm down.

    • sounds like Alex does move the bus when the law says he should so i don’t see what seriously, alex? is getting so hyped up about other than a personal problem about people lawfully parking their vehicles in public spaces.

      • And yeah, I read the facebook page so that I could be *informed* about what the bus does before jumping to conclusions.

    • Please tell us how you “benefit” this neighborhood. You seem pretty unbearable to me so that benefit has to outweigh your personality to make a positive difference here, ok?

      1) Selfing abusing what? The only person suffering here is me. I drive the bus a lot. It’s not good for it to sit. For example, Friday I was in Oakland, Saturday and Sunday I was at Treasure Island, tomorrow I’m taking it to get new batteries installed, Wednesday I’m buying a mifi at Verizon so I can go to the beach in my bus and be online while you sit at your miserable job and work at that thing that you hate. Or maybe you’re a full-time insufferable internet comment poster?

      2) Re: rules and laws, I’ve never encountered someone who is both part parking troll and part SFMTA shill so that’s notable. Together it adds up to being ignorant and hypocritical. The only person abusing anything is the neighbor who is calling the SFMTA and waiting everyone’s time because my bus is parked in roughly the same spot sometimes for more than 24 hours. That person is abusing city resources and not following the rules by calling in this parking enforcement unnecessarily and then tampering with it. Do you have a car? If so, do you park on the street? Have you ever not moved it for 24 hours? If yes, please stop talking….and “play by the rules” I guess?

      3) You are not welcome at any bus activity ever so you’re certainly right that you’ll not “benefit” from it. If you have a child, though, first, I feel really sorry for that kid and secondly it will be ironic for you if you are both in Precita Park on Halloween when the bus is parked there looking terrific in Halloween decorations and offering drinks and candy to everyone else but you.

      I’m just kidding about you not being welcome. Of course you are. It would be great to have such a scary TROLL there on Halloween in particular har har har.

      • alex, please see my note, above. and redline the apology to you, which patently no longer applies.

        barred from bus activities?!? will take solace in knowing that i had never heard of your little adventure bus until today. your (hilarious!) velvet rope tactics will only assuage my guilt when i, for the very first time ever, call parking enforcement.

        ps job? yes. hate it? no. kids? no. garage? two car. and i, too, own a large vehicle, an RV which i pay to store in gerlach, nv. receipts available.

    • And just to be totally clear again: there are blocks and blocks of parking available where I park on Bernal Blvd. What am I hogging/abusing?

      • Yeah, I don’t understand what people are actually upset about. You are parking the bus for a legally permitted amount of time in an area where there is not competition for space. These cranks are throwing a tantrum over nothing.

  10. The law does indeed say that you can’t have it parked in one place for more than 72 hours without moving it at least 1/10th of a mile. After that time, it can be cited, but can’t be towed until notice is given (see below). This doesn’t say how long the notice must be, but I recall that it’s 72 hours notice. So they basically get 6 days before it can be towed.

    No vehicle parked or left standing upon any highway or street in violation of Division I, Section 7.2.29 shall be removed unless there has been posted in a conspicuous place upon such vehicle a notice which shall contain the following:
    (a) the alleged violation;
    (b) a description of the vehicle (including, if available, the make, model, color, type, license number, and identification number of the vehicle);
    (c) the location of the vehicle; and
    (d) the identity of the person giving the notice.

    • And just to be perfectly clear, I RARELY leave my bus for even 48 hours without moving it. I guess I’ll admit that even I only drove it every couple of weeks it still wouldn’t be hurting anybody but the fact is I drive it frequently and just park in the same spot.

      That’s what makes it such a bitch when some fascist neighbor reports it as abandoned: over those next 72 hours I may be driving it constantly but on that 3rd day, I can’t come back and park it near that spot or I’ll get towed.

      Other neighbors have been victims of this hypocritical, overzealous, vigilante parking enforcement with their regular cars. Nothing better than parking your car, not using it for a few days, going out of town for the weekend, and finding your car towed because a “neighbor” called it in.

  11. Oh man, parking had to be the topic of the day on Bernalwood. Just when we’re having tons of parking problems. I wasn’t going to rant, really, I wasn’t. Unfortunately having this podium right in front of me leaves me no choice. Here comes the rant.

    Frankly, some of our neighbors are (insert colloquial term for rectum). Here’s why. Those of us who live on Precita are familiar with the strange ritual we’ve all been put through by the city the passed couple of months. A city inspector walked the street and put white dots on each pavement tile that wasn’t up to their standards. This rant isn’t about whether or not the inspector was right, or even about the several hundred dollars in permit fees the city collected from each homeowner. It is what it is, which in our case was about $3,000 to a concrete firm and an additional $650 to the city in permit fees. But wait, it doesn’t stop there. In our case our driveway curbing also needed to be replaced, so now there’s no red paint on the curbing, or in front of a fire hydrant. To get the city to repaint we pay an additional $320 (in permit, inspection, and paint fees; seriously, why do we pay taxes?) and wait several weeks to a month. Alright, so maybe that was a bit of a rant about the concrete work, but that pales in comparison to our neighbor inflicted parking issues. During the wait our driveway is disturbingly naked and vulnerable to the (insert colloquial term for a small male sexual organ) in the neighborhood.

    Let me explain. Since the concrete work was completed not a day has gone by without cars on both sides of our driveway squeezing into spots that would completely overlap the red zone, were it there, sniff sniff. “So what?”, you may think. Well, in our case we have to back out of a very steep driveway, so steep that it’s impossible to see behind until you’re fully in the street. Before backing out we gladly stand behind the car and look for loose dogs, kids, and pedestrians, and we’re happy to wait several minutes until the way is clear. But now we have to avoid the cars of these (insert a different colloquial term for a small male sexual organ) who are taking advantage of the brief time our driveway is vulnerable. If we tap your car I bet you wouldn’t hesitate to come after us for the damage. And what about the damage to our lovely vehicle, who’s going to pay for that?

    Unfortunately DPT will not ticket or tow these cars because there’s a good chance the ticket would be overturned in court. But, if the guilty parties push their luck and go an inch or two into our driveway the DPT angels will gleefully sweep in and tow the cars, hopefully resulting in hefty fines and fees. And don’t think you can skate for a few weeks if you’re careful. We know who you are, we’ve lived here long enough to recognize most cars on our beautiful street. Maybe we won’t get you this time, but the next time you ask for help moving some heavy object, the next time you’d like us to sign for a package, the next time you’d like to have a glass of wine, or, does one dare to hope, the next time you’re parked mere millimeters into our freshly sporting red zone, we’ll be ready.

    Ahhh, I feel much better now. Rant over. While the above is true and frustrating, I tried to write it with a sense of humor. But seriously folks, please think of your neighbors. Most of us don’t want to be (insert yet another colloquial term for a small male sexual organ). We want to enjoy our street, community, and neighbors. Sometimes it’s really tough though.

    • Oh man, don’t even get me started about those White Dots of Doom which require sidewalk repair. I got a bunch of them — many on sidewalk squares that look not too shabby. I was tempted to rant about that, but decided better of it.

      • Yeah, we’re on Florida street and most of our block is now covered with them. Conveniently they skips over the part in front of our house, and we’re pretty sure that happened because my fiance saw them coming up the block and came out to talk (aka flirt) with them about what was going on.

    • We had to fix our sidewalk too. The inspector told me that they only come out and look at sidewalks a citizen has reported to them via 311. She called it part of Newsome’s nanny state. Technically I don’t think that is part of a nanny state but it still sucks. If the department wants the whole block to do it they inform them via mail and they give homeowners a couple of options about how to get them fixed. I wrote a letter pointing out to Campos how this is not very transparent governance and that clearly there is some room for vindictive behavior. I got no response. Vote for Mossquatch District 9!

  12. PARKING: As a convenience, a city will allow private vehicles to be parked on city streets for a length of time, but this is NOT a guaranteed right. Some cities, such as San Marino CA, do not allow private vehicles to be parked anywhere on public streets AT ALL.

    I’m leaning toward supporting this idea. Used to be that streets were clear of parked cars, but now most neighborhoods look like used car lots. Very unsightly.

    Chicken John uses his “Applause” bus for various road trips and social events, but he always parks it in some kind of off-street parking space. There are plenty of these available, as I’ve known him to park his bus in Bernal, Dogpatch, and on Treasure Island. Surely the owner of the yellow school bus can do the same.

    But I would like to see this rule applied to every vehicle. Make Bernal more attractive by parking EVERY vehicle off-street. Be like San Marino…

    • People would just pave over every square inch of green on their property to store their cars. It’d turn the whole city into the paved-front-yard hellscape that is parts of the Outer Sunset.

      Street parking also creates a buffer between busy streets and sidewalks where people walk an homes and businesses are. I don’t own a car, but street parking is a good thing.

    • David Kaye for mayor everybody!

      David, last time I checked, CJ’s bus was parked in a spot on 85th ave in East Oakland. I don’t think he uses it a lot. There are places to park in the city for around $350/month and soon I’ll be moving it to one because the upgrades/renovations I’m doing to my bus will require it. For now, I really enjoy using the convenience as you say and having it in my neighborhood. If it inconveniences you then I’m sorry but I don’t know how it does.

      • I was told that Chicken is parking his Applause bus on Treasure Island these days at City View Storage. They have a gated area with barbed wire around the top perimeter. Lots of people park RVs and stuff there. I have no idea what they charge for parking.

        Now as for me, I’m not the least bit put out by your bus or any bus. I was just saying that there is no “right” to park a private vehicle on a public street, except for those rights granted by a particular city. What I’m saying is that if the neighbors say you’re wrong to park there then THEY are also wrong to park there, too.

        I once had an Econoline van which took me across the USA and Canada for 9 months. I wanted to see the continent. Had a BLAST doing it.

  13. This parking territorialism is not unique to Bernal, and and certainly not to San Francisco. I grew up in Seattle where a neighbor knocking on your door and informing you that you’ve parked in “their spot” (the street outside their house) isn’t out of the ordinary.

    The city subsidizes a limited amount of a space for private vehicles—and that’s fine, it helps make the city run, but it’s first-come-first-serve—everyone needs to take a deep breath. The bus owner isn’t hurting anyone, BUT one person taking up three spots (is that about right?) is a total dick move, and bus owner should own up to it and not be surprised he’s being treated, in turn, like a total dick.

    • That happened to me once when I lived in Santa Cruz. Neighbor across the street would leave weird passive aggressive notes for me to laugh at.

    • It may be three spots, but it’s three spots that nobody else is trying to use. As another commenter pointed out, the bus doesn’t park in areas where other people are gunning for spots. It’s usually up there by itself. These are neighbors who don’t like what the bus represents– if you read the comments from the original post about a month ago it becomes obvious it’s not about parking. It’s about ‘cleaning up the neighborhood’ and getting rid of the ‘drug addicted, mentally ill homeless people’ who ‘live in the buses on bernal’. Parking laws are just the avenue by which NIMBY neighbors can seek out their revenge.

      • To those people that merely hate the idea of a bus being parked where it’s not in anybody’s way, their punishment is living with themselves. Their only hope now is to embrace the bus, or drive themselves slowly crazy.

      • Jane: Yup. it was hard to read that comment thread, the socially-ignorant NIMBY content was very, very high.

    • What he should do is find two people who don’t park on the street who are willing to say “I will let you use the space I’m entitled to.” That should silence his critics–won’t, but should.

      • No one is entitled to a space. The belief that there is such an entitlement is the essence of the problem.

      • But the fact of the matter is that the street is a free-for-all for ANYONE who wants to park there, whether they live in the home behind the parking space or live 5 miles away. As long as the vehicle gets moved from time to time, it’s all fair game.

      • Oh, I don’t disagree with either of you. If the city rules are that anyone can park there–and they are–then there’s no cause for complaint. I just think that it would be a very effective way to point out that the critics are full of $%^&.

  14. Maybe it really comes down to a few individuals who have yet to get over their fear of the Big Yellow Bus Thing that followed them all through their school years. Even on “snow days.” I do believe there is therapy for that…

  15. Boy oh boy, parking is SUCH a hot topic in our otherwise lovely neighbourhood.

    Can anyone address why exactly you NEED a car in San Francisco? I’ve lived here quite a few years and have never wanted/needed one. MUNI, BART and my own feet work fine. People, if parking issues upset you so much, maybe consider going car free?

    As for Alex the bus owner: I, for one, enjoyed hearing your perspective. I see your bus often and I have no problem with it. Good luck with all the negativity on here 😦

    • Most people DON’T need a car in SF. When I lived in Bernal I commuted to various jobs such as a tech job at AT&T’s campus in San Ramon. I did this by walking 5 blocks to BART and taking a shuttle from Walnut Creek BART to AT&T. Or visiting a girlfriend in Santa Cruz, which required me to take the 24 Divisadero over to the 22nd Street Caltrain station, going to San Jose, and taking the Amtrak connector bus to Santa Cruz.

      Today is different for me, though. As a freelance computer tech support person making housecalls I have several calls a day taking me from cul de sacs in Marin to offices in Pacifica.

      But if I had the kind of job that most of the rest of you folks had, I’d get rid of my car and resume taking public transit. I went without a car for 8 years living in Bernal and didn’t miss the car, or the parking tickets, or the broken windows and stolen stuff…

    • Or, y’know, just keep parking on the street and moving your vehicle within the legally required period.

      • The people complaining about cars left on the street too long are the ones who seem to be concerned about the availability of street parking. Moving cars every 72 hours doesn’t change the number of cars on the street, so it doesn’t address their issue. That can be solved only by paying for a dedicated off-street space.

    • Indeed. People don’t store their refrigerator on the street, so why should they store their car on the street? Rent a parking space if the car is too big to store on your property.

      • That’s not at all what I’m suggesting. Street parking is a free resource, and it will be overconsumed. Expecting anything different (and harassing your neighbors about it) is ridiculous. The suggestion is directed at those who cannot deal with the vagaries of street parking and cling to unrealistic expectations and entitlements.

    • Ok. Do you realize that where I park the bus there is abundant parking? Also, I move my bus all the time. You are welcome to come for a ride and see.

      • You’ve misunderstood me, Alex. I’m on your side. You haven’t expressed any entitlement to park in a given spot, and it sounds like you’re even generally compliant with the nonsense 72-hour rule. Objections to your parking the bus up there are baseless and mean.

        Keep on keepin’ on.

  16. There are a few gas stations near Shotwell that Alex can park his bus on a monthly basis. Why blight the neighborhood?! We have enough buses, trucks, cars on Folsom St & other areas of District 9 parked all over the place. Anyone who parks their car for over 72 hours &/or for 2 weeks in one spot deserves to be towed. Be considerate of your neighbors.

      • People see this bus as a blight because they assume someone is living in the vehicle. I have to admit I was incorrectly making this assumption before reading this post. I also think people are concerned the bus will attract more people living out of their vehicles if other homeless people who live in their vehicles notice / hear it’s a viable location to do so.

        I see both sides: the concern this will become the new 7th Street; and, Alex trying to be considerate and choosing an open street to park his oversized vehicle. I will try to no longer stare disapprovingly of the bus while I am out enjoying the neighborhood.

      • I’m wondering what the concern is about people living in vehicles. I happen to know 3 elderly couples who sold their homes and bought RVs. They travel the country and park where it’s interesting. Would people here consider THAT to be a blight? If so, why?

      • No idea, Brandon. I’m biased obviously because I love my bus and am pretty fond of buses in general. I think atop Bernal Blvd. it only enhances things. I hope I die before I get old and still live in a city and complain about beautiful vintage buses that aren’t even parked in front of their house.

    • Pamela, if you can point me to one of those gas stations, I’d appreciate it. It’s gotta be fenced in and I’ve got to be able to access it 24 hours a day. Can’t be dead storage or whatever the terms is for when when you’re not moving the vehicle. That narrows it down.

      In due time I’ll find a proper parking spot and pay $350/month for it and together we can celebrate me spending $350/month on it.

    • To be clear: I rarely leave it for 72 hours. I will be moving it every day this week, for example. I just park in the same spot and you don’t notice.

  17. Sceptical that it will remain one bus. When other oversized vehicle owners find the free easy parking it’ll be fender to fender RVs up there. So much for our lovely open space.
    There’s a construction dump truck that parks on Franconia near Rutledge, overnight, every day. Surely it’s legal but total b.s.
    Residential neighborhood is no place for school bus, RV, or oversized construction vehicles.

  18. Alex,
    Can you park it near the top of Folsom with a DropCam pointed at the parking lot? Maybe we can catch some of those illegal dumpers.

    • I’d love to help bus those people. However, I do move my bus frequently. I know it doesn’t seem like I do but that’s because I typically park it in the same exact spot. I travel overnight in it frequently as well.

      • (Based on what I know about Airbnb both from the people I know who work there and from my own experiences, it would be potentially a very desirable, LUCRATIVE, and possibly iconic SF listing in the way that one of those tree houses is in Santa Cruz or something).

  19. Here’s one idea on the parking topic but not directly related to BIG BUS. Maybe this idea wouldn’t even work? Thinking of something like an Airbnb for unused garage spaces. For instance, we have a garage space that we do not use entirely b/c the one car doesn’t take up the whole space. There’s, like, a whole other car space in there. Would someone be willing to rent that space for cheap and thus solve many of their parking woes? Sure they would & could do this! Or say, for instance, there’s someone with a garage space that they use just to store crap that they should just get rid of. Boxes of crap & old trinkets/ bric a brac, and probably spiders. And they’re procrastinating because who wants to dig through a bunch of spidery boxes and sort/ get rid of stuff? Nobody. But now here comes their big chance to make a few extra bucks. And they get to work clearing that stuff the hell OUT. Now they can go ahead and rent that space out, friend! To a neighbor or someone they can trust hard. Could this idea work? Could there be an app? What do you think, tech people? Maybe get to work on this you Elite Managerial Creative Class!

    • If there was a neighbor with space who was willing to do it, I would park my bus in their driveway, for example, rent it on Airbnb, and split the revenue with that neighbor.

    • I’ve wanted to do this forever. I live on 26th/South Van Ness, spitting distance from Bernal, but sadly just outside your fair borough. Some nights coming home from work I spend upwards of half an hour, and sometimes a gallon of gas (!!!), circling the neighborhood looking for parking. Now, people who are able to live a car-free existence, bless them, might have garages that they’re not using, or the thing I’m more interested in, DRIVEWAYS that no car ever enters because they’ve either converted their garages to living space or have evolved beyond the need to burn dinos for transportation and are using the garages as workshops to make beautiful green things.
      Let’s all save our carbon emissions and create a network: I have a driveway that you can block, you have a car that could be spitting way less crap into the air each evening by just blocking it/pulling into my driveway.
      Let’s call it Blockme! Someone with internet tools figure it out. In the meantime, anyone want to let me block their driveway? Just, treat it as a parallel parking spot, no sidewalk or personal space filling necessary. Win-Win-Win!

    • Janet, you’d love the bus. Whenever people are on the bus it’s basically a big lovefest with clothes mostly on. None of the people complaining, vandalizing, sabotaging the bus have been onboard.

  20. If there’s really that much room and it’s not really taking away from anyone, does it really warrant this rage? Carry on, Alex, carry on! Over here on Putnam where parking is truly tough, I’ve watched a woman and her friend move a car on blocks for a year, every Friday, before street cleaning. They literally push it across the street, wave at Dpt and the street sweeper, and roll it right back, all in the span of about 8 minutes. I plan on leaving a note with directions to park behind the bus! Poor lady, all this time she could of been straight chilling up on that street!

  21. I am truly saddened by the vitriol being aimed at Alex here. I kind’ve thought Bernal was better than that.

    What is San Francisco becoming if we can’t accept a little quirkiness in the form of an old school bus up on a hill? An old school bus that is neither a residence nor illegally parked. We should remind ourselves that the San Francisco of hippie legend owes much of it’s existence to a bunch of Pranksters and their faithful school bus Furthur…

    Are we really ready to bury the individual spirit of this lovely city in a morasse of suburban outrage and self righteousness?

    • No, Bernal is not better than that. Bernal is full of yupsters who spent boatloads of money buying overpriced homes. They show off by buying double-wide baby carriages and shoving them down the street so that others have to get out of their way. Bernal has become disgusting. I continue to read and post here because I do tech support business in Bernal.

      I got the first inkling that Bernal was going yupster when people began to rip down the flyers I was putting up advertising my tech support business. The flyers were COMPLETELY legal, observing every part of the law (posting date, secured by tape or string, no more than 8 1/2 by 11, wrapping around the pole, etc). At one point I got a THREATENING phone call from someone who had seen my car and threatened to cut my tires if I continued to put up flyers.

      I’ve come to HATE liberals because of this kind of thing.

      • This caricature of Bernal betrays a lot of resentment and a complete absence of thoughtfulness. Perhaps it’s time to move on mentally and emotionally now that you’ve moved physically?

      • Really think it’s that bad? I’ve seen a lot worse. I did–VOLUNTEERED–for multiple tours in Park Slope BK in the mid ’00s. Saw my favorite bar on 5th st. turn into a daycare center. Right in front of my face.

      • David Kaye Re: people ripping down flyers, I’ve experienced this firsthand. I was trying to promote Curbtxt and felt pretty ENTITLED as a crazy person might say on this blog. In one case I built a poster with a holder for some pamphlets/stickers, put it on my own front door, and it got ripped off by this middle-aged lady with not a lot of hair under a backwards baseball cap and a little white yappy dog. Probably the most unpleasant person I’ve met in SF because she’s just as crazy as anybody out on the street but also just has the worst attitude. I confronted her in the middle of the day on one of her dog walks where she took justice into her own hands and went around just grabbing stacks of pamphlets about my cult–I mean my neighborhood parking communication startup–from the signs around Precita. She didn’t throw them away though. She just headed up Alabama St. towards her place with about 150 flyers in her hand which makes it even more Psycho.

        The highlights of confronting her about this were

        1) she refers to all the people who so much as set foot in the Precita Park Cafe as “slackers”

        2) she thinks I force people to join Curbtxt

        3) She’s from New York

        4) she called me a “slacker” to my face while she was wearing sweatpants outside at 2pm on a weekday

        So I understand what you’re saying about your posters/flyers being wrongfully destroyed. It’s absurd but if you think that it’s more than just a few bad apples and start talking assigning it to liberals then you are no better than they. And while they aren’t liberals, and they might be conservatives, they’re definitely assholes.

        Crazy lady, if you are listening, I have a 20k on Virgin America you and your rat dog can use to go back to New York anytime you want.

    • Even in your fondest, funkiest, free-lovin’-est memories, it’s always been this way. The only difference is the passive empowerment technology lends us to have our voices heard, but those Cluster B personality disorders that tend to pepper neighborhood associations and city planning hearings have always been amongst us.

      My octogenarian neighbors like to sweep the leaves from their sidewalk by sweeping them toward my house (it’s cute, really. I pick’em up when I sweep mine), and I’ve got no reason to think they didn’t do the same thing when they bought their house in 1960.

      Bernal is still a wonderful place full of awesome people.

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  23. I suggest Neighbor Alex behave like an old Bernalite, leave a message board on the side of the bus, and invite cranky neighbors aboard for a BBQ/city tour.

  24. We’ll be moving to Bernal in a couple of months, and we have a Volkswagen microbus (which is one vehicle that serves a family of five humans and one dog). The weird fixation on foaming at the mouth about parking vehicles has us freaked out at our neighbors-to-be, and the arguments used to support the mouth-frothing are at times *the craziest arguments imaginable*–I’m told I can apply this label by my partner, who is a civil engineer. From our perspective, the neighborhood has an obligation to accept the whole public-parking-is-public mentality unless its residents have a plan to change the legal structure. The moment you moralize your hatred of this guy for parking his bus in public by assuming it’s polluting, or taking advantage because some residents don’t personally have a garage, or because it’s restricting the city’s transition to higher density (etc.), you’re no longer arguing about what is and isn’t permissible. You’re injecting your prejudices into the argument and, I can’t help but adding, in some cases *being a huge asshole about it!*

    I’m glad the neighborhood’s raffling off a webcam security monitor. I would advise the winner of this device to fix its gaze on their vehicle (if they have one). Some of the neighbors seem to be a hazard.

    (I love that Aqua Teen Hunger Force made it into this thread).


      Secondly, your concern about mouth-frothing is legit, but please know that it is not our collective norm. Parking issues just do this to people; not just in this neighborhood, or even just in this city. Street parking is one of those daily quality of life issues that makes people… frothy… independent of whatever the law might say.

      Since you’ve obviously been following along, you also know that in general, Bernal Heights is usually obsessed with glamour, haute couture, and celebrity gossip. And by joining the fray here, and with such robustitude, it’s also obvious that you’ll fit right in. Again, welcome!

    • You’ll be fine, it’s just a couple people—of the 25,000 people that call Bernal home— venting online.

      A vast array of vintage cars and motorcycles park in front on my place, living harmoniously amongst the Volvos, Pasat Wagons, (a half-dozen) Westfalia’s, and dirty work trucks. None are more or less welcome more than the others.

      Also, welcome!

  25. I think the bus is unattractive, but I think a Toyota Prius is a downright ugly car as well. If the registration tags are current, he’s got every right to park it on the street for up to 72 hours in the same spot, as per city ordinance. Calm the f down, people. Psychotic neighbors hurt your precious property value as much as a bus temporarily parked on the street.

  26. Someone with the handle “Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable” calls others “cranky” and “crazy” and “lunatic”. Is that textbook irony?

    Years ago, I owned a VW camper. Someone thought it was parked too long in the same area and tossed a brick though the rear window. I didn’t even get a “weird passive aggressive note.”

    In a city notorious for vigilante justice, a 72 hour notice seems highly civilized. “Neighbor Alex” could give thanks that “Professor Deth” and that crowd are not opposed to his bus at this particular moment, and find a less conspicuous place to park his vehicle.

    • THIS is the land of hippies, of people with VW buses and wildly painted vehicles. San Francisco USED to be tolerant until you overpaid hipsters moved here, bought homes at the top of the market and then began worrying that you’d lose “property value” for overinflated property.

      The South of Market night scene was ruined by NIMBYs who bought condos right next door to nightclubs. This is what nearly put the DNA, Brainwash, and Holy Cow out of business. It’s also the reason why a boatload of nightclubs have shut down. The owner of Trocadero Transfer simply gave up and left town. The owner of the Odeon Bar had to spend thousands to put in a lead-lined ceiling on shocks in order to placate the loony upstairs neighbor, who admitted that used his space as an office and wasn’t even there when the Odeon was making noise.

      So, now it’s cars and VW buses and school buses. Again, I feel it should be ALL or NOTHING. Either ban ALL the vehicles (cars and buses) from the street as the town of San Marino does, or allow ALL the vehicles (cars and buses) to park on the street.

      I’m thinking of getting a petition together to ban all vehicles from the streets. Heck, there’s plenty of room to build highrise and underground parking garages, especially on the southern slop of Bernal (south of Cortland).

  27. I’ve seen the bus and as one who might keep an eye out or be the first to call for either junkies/tweaks/meth-heads living in their vehicles or abandoned junkers leaking their fluids, etc. it was obvious (to me) from the beginning that this bus was not one of those things and was really just exactly what it was — a bus used by a good neighbor for trips and excursions. It was always clean, curtains open (it had curtains!), fresh flowers in the window, not blocking driveways and moved regularly.

    That being said, given the vitriol and parking vigilantism of some of the Bernal denizens, it is probably a good thing “Neighbor Alex” is getting off-street parking for his ride. Hopefully, the piece-of-mind will off-set the cost. I applaud his choice in that matter and kind of wish commercial vehicle owners of dump-trucks & flat-bed trucks that are larger than pick-up trucks would do the same.

    To those who want everyone to have a less petroleum-based lifestyle: Until the society provides for expanded mass-transit and the other infrastructure necessary to support it, go a little easier on your neighbors who are just trying to get by. Thanks.

    • Just for ducks I’d like to see vigilante folks tag EVERY car, bus, truck, and motorcycle that is parked more than 24 hours on the street with a warning notice. Heck, I might just do that myself. I LOVE pissing off people who feel entitlement to something they’re not entitled to. You yupsters…

  28. Hah, you Bernal people and your narrow streets. Come over to the Portola where you can find not one, not two, but THREE BOATS parked regularly around our wider, less busy streets. People over here park their cars on the sidewalk all the time because they are too damn lazy to find a parking spot one block away from their house.

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