What Deference Is Owed to the Parking Spot In Front of a Neighbor’s House?


Recently, Neighbor R found this note on the windshield:

Dear neighbor, it has been a tradition on our block in Bernal for over 30 years, that homeowners were granted the courtesy of parking in front of their homes. Obviously, these are city streets, but it would be very thoughtful of you to abide by this. I often have large and heavy things to load and unload. Your neighbor, XXX

Neighbor R shared a photo of the note without comment (and Bernalwood blurred out the original note-writer’s name in the image above).

But what did neighbor R make of the request? When pressed by Bernalwood to register an opinion, Neighbor R had this to say:

My natural reaction was actually some level of empathy. There are indeed a lot of “unspoken” parking rules in Bernal, and some of them are sensible (and most of them are actually just the law – like the 72 hour rule), so I can totally imagine someone writing a note if they were parked in “my” spot in front of my house for over 3 days (in fact, I have! I don’t tow).

But we had been parked for 3 hours at the point of receiving this note, and that makes the person seem grossly entitled. If you’re someone with a special circumstance (older, disabled, etc) I can imagine asking the nice favor of people trying to give you “your” spot, but I’d probably first post a sign rather than just leaving passive aggressive notes on cars.

To be fair, this is the absolute nicest, most well-meaning passive-aggressive note I’ve seen. The only implication of entitlement is the need to carry “heavy things” frequently (which raises a lot of questions anyway) but moreover it’s the fact of writing the note itself that reeks of entitlement. I have small kids and I am definitely ANNOYED when I don’t get “my” spot and have to haul them back and forth a block to the car, but that’s a far cry from me actually acting out based on that feeling.

Maybe it’s just another symptom of the “gentrification” debate — people who got used to things being a certain way and feel wronged now that things are changing. I get that. I can empathize with almost any feeling that people have, but actions are a totally different story. I just wish that this person understood that receiving a note like this, no matter how much I know I wasn’t in the “wrong” to park in a 100% public street parking space, makes me feel unwelcome and on edge.

And with that, the stage is set. Let the dialectics begin!

Where does neighborliness end, and where does tradition begin? (And vice-versa.)

Is this a classic case of Baby Boomer entitlement syndrome? Or is is emblematic of heedless newcomer narcissism?

It this a quintessential statement of our times? Or is it just a Rorschach Test for your own experience of the present moment?

So many angles to discuss. So many avenues to explore.

PHOTO: Neighbor R

114 thoughts on “What Deference Is Owed to the Parking Spot In Front of a Neighbor’s House?

  1. Such bull$#*t… I was recently honked at by such a person to move my car so that that they could park in *their* parking spot. And it wasn’t even my car, I just happened to be walking by.

    • haha, I love that. My next door neighbor slashed my aunts tires once for parking in front of his house. He didn’t even have a driveway or a garage. Never apologized either. Yes it was him. He had no problem admitting it…

  2. The entitlement of long-time residents is jarring. Get with the program, we’re all here, sharing the same neighborhood. They can go on and on about gentrification but it’s also gentrification that allow them to now own $1M+ homes.

  3. As I write I feel like writing such a note myself. The car parked in front of my house has been there for about a week, well into the period where I could call DPT and have it chalked etc. I haven’t because, well, because the note-writer is correct that these are city streets, neighbors, etc. Also my kid is a big kid now and can walk a block with no problem.

    I’ve been here over 20 years and yes, it used to be that in our little slice of heaven we’d pretty much leave the spots in front of the houses to those houses if we could. But it’s been several years since that was even possible. There are just too many cars. Still, there are some spots that are generally left to certain neighbors. Like the ones whose little spot requires encroaching on their driveway; that one is “theirs.” Or should be anyway. And the guy with the completely renovated vintage vehicle that none of us want to see door-dinged in the 90 degree spots. There are also the two 80-somethings who live up a few doors (and could easily have been the note-writers except their terms began over 50 years ago!) Likewise, this note writer says she’s been in that house for 30 years so likely IS an older person. “Heavy” might be a bag of groceries to her.

    I suspect the note-writer didn’t write because of the three hour park. I suspect the note-receiver has a habit of parking there and the note-writer finally thought it worth sharing the old “courtesies” just in case the note-receiver cared to change her habits. But I can see both sides and would also feel stung to receive such a note too, especially with little kids to have to schlep from a block away.

    What deference owed? Well, I guess we all do the best we can given the dearth of parking, right?

    • Yep, and this is publicly owned right-of-way, paid for by all taxpayers and open to use by any vehicle, within the posted limits. This kind of entitlement has no place whatsoever in a city.

  4. Everyone wants to park in front of where they live! The street is shared space. I can’t believe that someone is calling this a tradition…because there is no such thing. Nobody owns a parking spot!

    • I mean, really. The public owns those spots, and anyone can park there. Period. Long time homeowners or renters don’t “own” them any more than new arrivals. When folks feel powerless, they focus on small thimgs that they think they can control. And often focus their anger on random folks and not the forces – or large monied interests – that are the real problem. Park where ever you want. And everyone should walk, bike and take public transit more.

  5. I don’t think this is so much about gentrification as it is about densification. When I go visit my parents in suburbia, it’s always amazing to me that I have the choice of parking in front of their house, their neighbor’s house, their neighbor’s house across the street, or their driveway, because all these spots are almost always open. San Francisco is too dense to be like that, and becoming denser; if Bernal ever had the privilege of a lack of density it’s losing that now.

    Personally, the option I as a resident have is either park in front of someone else’s house or not park in the neighborhood at all. I don’t have a garage, and I’ve found the spot in front of my place free a handful of times in the years I’ve lived here. Bernal is residential, and aside from Cortland there aren’t spaces that aren’t in front of someone else’s house. The alternative I guess would be to park on Mission and take a hike or a taxi.

    Our neighborhood still isn’t nearly as bad as some of the places I’ve lived in SF. I can usually find parking within a couple blocks of my house, and it rarely takes me longer than 10 min. In the Mission I once spent half an hour looking for parking and ended up more than five blocks away.

    • Maybe it’s because I’m just one of those horrible newer residents, but I find it hard to imagine that Bernal residents ever really enjoyed “the privilege of a lack of density”. How much denser is Bernal than it was a couple of decades ago, really? Plots have always been smaller here, and there haven’t been _that_ many new homes going up.

      • I’ve lived in Bernal nineteen years. I can attest that parking is far tighter now, and gets a bit worse each year. Why? We have a few more houses as empty lots get developed, but I think the main causes are wealth and demographics. While an older household might have had one car (or none), a younger, two income family is more likely to have two. As each house turns over by sale, the new owners are far more likely to have multiple cars than the previous owners. Add in more roommates as rental costs increase, and it’s easy to see why traffic and parking have gone up so much in the neighborhood.

      • Now each house seems to have more cars. Altho’ at one time our next door neighbor had 14 cars associated with their place (frequent visits from their large family). They moved thank heaven.

  6. I can empathize in some ways. I recently moved to the South Bernal neighborhood and have a great spot right in front of my house (but unfortunately no garage parking). In the past few years my house has been car-less, so the spot was up for grabs for the other neighbors. That is, until now–because I have a car of my own.

    I am just beginning to realize how competitive street parking is on my block. My neighbor next door has claimed the spot in front of my house as “their” spot, and definitely have a sense of entitlement to it. They have two cars, so one goes in the garage and the larger car does street parking. I’ll catch them moving their car from another spot on the street to specifically park it in front of my house.

    I caught THEM giving ME the stink eye when I parked in front of my house, and it didn’t even matter when they realized that I lived there. Now we’re in a constant parking battle to claim the spot in front of my house. What can you do, you know? I can’t tell them not to park there, but at the same time, it’s annoying to have them feel so entitled to claim the spot. I imagine that they’ve been parking in front of my house for years without a problem–but now I’m the new neighbor that has taken “their spot”.

    Don’t even get me started on the other neighbors that like to put construction cones in front of their house to claim “their spot”…

      • that’s so old school. When I lived in the North End in Boston, someone would claim a spot with anything, a cone, a broken chair…. and woe be to you if you grabbed that spot. 🙂

      • Yeah, I was thinking about how awesome it is that this conflict is taking the form of a nicely written note, after suffering for years parking in Boston. If you moved a chair, garbage can, or whatever from a street spot you were almost guaranteed to get your car keyed, dented, etc. (or worse — if they owner saw you do it they’d accost you directly). I can sort of understand it during the winter, when folks would have to spend an hour digging out their car after a snow storm and they wanted to come back to the spot they labored to clear, but this happened all year long in a lot of neighborhoods (and I’m sure still does). Glad that’s behind me.

  7. I’m sure the same note writer posts on Next Door every time they see one of “those people” walking down the street or some other such nonsense.

  8. it’s true, though, there are many more cars today. What was probably acceptable a while ago is outmoded. Even 15 years ago I remember our block was relatively carless compared to today. After 90 degree parking went through, and with an increased attendance at a local house of worship that seems to run 18×7, parking is at a premium. Not to mention on streets where some developer is building a house into the hillside and gets a variance so no parking space is provided.

    Anyone see that crisp aerial photo of Bernal taken in 1938 where there are hardly any cars? or trees for that matter. must have been a much different feeling. quieter, that’s for sure.

  9. It’s a free for all on my block of Andover. Nobody gets ‘their spot.’ We’re too close to Cortland to even vaguely hope for that. I do remember, though, way back in the late 80’s (when we moved in), how up on Eugenia St. there was definitely ‘reserved’ parking, as there were many large cars, and they really kind of had to park just so or we didn’t all fit. Two Caddies, a huge old Buick 6 (Big Bones the harmonica player) and my own Ford Galaxy, as well as other fabulous bombers. We also parked with our wheels up on the sidewalk, because if you parked two of these wide bodies across from each other, the street got really narrow. I remember once parking in one of the Cadillac ‘spots’ and getting a pretty test message. And I got it- if he didn’t park there, there was going to be almost no place to park anywhere nearby, because of the sheer length and width of the car. It seems so very very long ago.

  10. On three separate occasions, a Bernal neighbor has put orange traffic cones in the parking space in front of his home when I was looking for a spot. On one of these occasions, when I couldn’t find another spot, I moved the cones onto the sidewalk and took the spot. I knew which neighbor put the cones out because I watched him do it multiple times, probably more than half a dozen. Fortunately, it has only personally affected me those three times I was looking for parking.

    I have yet to speak to him about this habit. I’m not sure what I’d say and don’t want to engage in a disagreement if it’s not necessary. Still, I get triggered when I see the orange cones in front of his house. Can anyone suggest a way for me to handle this?

      • I live on Moultrie…if I ever seen fake construction cones out, I’ll move them to the sidewalk for you.

    • We don’t get the orange cones in our area but someone told me that 25 years ago (before our time here) a neighbor set fire to another neighbor’s car. I guess that’d be the penalty for moving someone’s chair/cone/sign back in the day. Just like NYC. Also, in the 60s and 70s many of the houses here were boarded up and “nearly condemned” according to our old neighbors.

    • Non-official cones on the street are garbage. It is perfectly legal to take them and throw them away. And you’re cleaning up the streets in the process!

    • Hi Dan. You may be referring to me. I do not put the cone out to save a spot, but point out what should be obvious. The space is literally too small for all cars, save for a Smart Car. Even new Minis do not fit between both curb-cuts without being over. When a car is over the curb-cut it is impossible to get my car out of my garage. The logic being that if your bumper is past where the cone was placed (“to fit” between my neighbors driveway and mine) then you are too big for the space. I’m actually trying to save myself of having someone block my driveway and you the hassle of being cited.

    • I’ve had this happen to me. I just picked up the cones and put them in my garage, so they lose them.

  11. I am in the over 80 set. I still like to help my neighbors and not find things to argue about. We receive their packages, give their kids birthday presents and love to hear how they are all doing.

  12. Let’s look at the problem through the sociability prism. I vote for a carefree & carfree Bernal Hill. Certainly fewer and smaller cars would be a good objective. Using our sidewalks more often. Walking, dog-walking, strolling and tricycling with the toddlers, an occasional parade, not to mention taking over the streets for a block party. Automatic garage door openers and the private automobile reduce social capital. So do shaded front windows. Let’s promote fewer cars and more human transparency.

  13. THIS!!! >>I am definitely ANNOYED when I don’t get “my” spot and have to haul […] back and forth a block to the car, but that’s a far cry from me actually acting out based on that feeling.<<

  14. We recently bought a house, which means I finally (FINALLY!) have my own driveway/garage to park in, ending 7 years of living in a street-parking-only situation (multi-flat house where a different tenant “owned” the driveway spot). I certainly know the frustration of coming back from a Costco trip and having to haul a bunch of big items a block or two from the only parking spot I could find. But that also meant I enjoyed not having to pay the extra housing premium on having my own driveway/garage. I’m certainly grateful to have the driveway/garage now, but I’m also paying a much higher cost for the that privilege, in the form of the delta between the price of a house with/without parking (it’s larger than you might expect). I guess my point is that we all have to make tradeoffs of cost/benefits in choosing our living situations, and if having private, off-street parking is one of the things you’re willing to trade away in order to have a better location, larger, rooms, etc., then you don’t have the right to complain that your neighbors aren’t giving you a reserved street spot for free.

  15. I’ve lived in Bernal for 15 years and live on a block where many homes do not have garages. Street parking has always been competitive but there’s no doubt it’s gotten worse in the past 2 years. That being said, this is a city and nobody ‘owns’ the streets.

    As far as entitlement, and what is ‘fair’ that really is tough. Older people and people with young children (ages 2 & under) do definitely have greater needs for closer parking, but the simple fact is that this is city living and these are the kinds of compromises we make for living here. It sucks, but if people really feel that strongly about it, they could always add a garage to their homes.

    Maybe there should be special temporary handicap permits (and spots) for these higher needs folks that entitle them to easier parking around the city…

    All that said, I do think there should be some amount of neighborly consideration when people are parking their cars. My next door neighbor (single guy who is a mechanic) owns no less than SIX vehicles (two big vans, two cars, and 2 Motorcycles) and he often fills up our entire street with his cars. In addition, he uses the motorcycles to ‘save’ spaces for his bigger cars. It’s very frustrating and unneighborly and I’ve commented about it to him when I’ve caught him moving the motorcycles to park the cars. Couldn’t he spread his cars out over different streets? Maybe he should rent a garage space if he wants to own that many cars? Maybe there should be a city ordinance in place about how many vehicles can be registered to a single address? Is there?

    As for parking cones to save spots, I say it’s no less aggressive to just pick them up, move them, and park in the spot than it is to put them into the spots in the first place. People cannot ‘save’ spaces, plain and simple (unless it’s for a move or for construction in which case they should get permits from the city).

    And lastly, when I am struggling up the hill with 3 bags of groceries and 2 kids in tow, I try to focus on the positive fact that I’m getting good, heart-pumping exercise, and I’m happy that my body is strong enough to do this for now. It’s not all bad. Plus, I get to live in Bernal!

    • You are so right–it’s all part of city living. If you wish a place to park your car, move to Fresno where most homes have garages and there is room in the driveways, too.

    • “Maybe there should be a city ordinance in place about how many vehicles can be registered to a single address? ”

      Seems like more of an argument for permitted street parking in Bernal (with a sensible limit on permits per household).

  16. my first encounter with this was in the Haight 35 years ago on Downey St. The landlord of my friend’s building was an elderly man who had been there since WWII. Everyone seemed to know that the spot in front belonged to Mr. H. He would sometimes put cones there when he left. No one on the block seemed to mind. He was a wonderful person and everyone I knew seemed to mind. The deference paid was a sign of respect.
    Respect is earned. No one is entitled to it. And it is easier to expect this showing of respect to honored on a street not near a commercial area. Respect cannot be self-enforced. It just doesn’t work that way. And a casual visitor cannot be expected to know a neighborhood norm if, in fact, there is one.
    The note-leaver did not seem to be particularly angry. S/he appeared to be passing on a “community norm” that, of course, s/he has no right to enforce. We don’t even know if his/her neighbors agree with this characterization.

    Again, it was not an angry note, simply baseless. There is plenty of serious stuff to raise ire. If this does it for him/her, I’d stay clear.
    Now, putting a bag of your dog poop in my garbage can after the garbage has been colkected, is a legitimate cause for felonious rage…but that’s off topic
    I grouse about the size of cars that park on our narrow street. That has made it harder for us to get in and out of our garage. In 25 years, I have left maybe 10 notes on windshields of cars that were parked an inch or 3 into our driveway. I have never towed anyone. My neighbor across the the street seems to enjoy towing people for the same encroachment.

    • The size of cars is a a big issue. Literally. Large cars, vans, and pickups should not be parking on residential streets that one must traverse. I have often had to stop to let another car pass because both sides of the street has been parked up with extra large vehicles.

  17. Let’s not throw the boomers under the bus here. I am a boomer (63) and I wouldn’t think of requiring the spot in front of my house be kept for me and me only. I’ve had to walk a block or so which is fine with me as I need the exercise, and I’m usually carrying bags and such.

    I should amend this to read–when I stay at my daughter’s home in San Mateo. I actually live in Fresno with a 2-car garage in which to park. I sort of gather no one in the bay area parks in their garage.

    • In San Francisco people do park in their garages in most cases. Between the difficulty of finding street parking and break-ins, a garage space is a precious thing that’s worth the extra property cost.

      • Wow, now upon reading more comments I’d like to take back my post. However, on my block of Precita I do regularly see people parking in their garages and/or driveways. I only park on the street if I plan to be home for under 2 hours & then drive out again.

  18. .
    Of course, we’d all love to park right in front of our house. and, there may have been unspoken, unwritten thoughts about this long ago, but we are in a different age and I’ve adjusted. We ‘ve lived in Bernal Heights for 35 years and on the same street. I sometimes have to park 4 blocks away now and I’m 76 years old, with groceries to carry etc. I think we’re all doing our best; including navigating streets that could easily be one way, but we don’t want that so we adjust and are polite waiting. I just concentrate on : breathe and be glad we are lucky enough to live in San FRancisco .

  19. I have been living on Manchester street for 23 years (yes, i know that’s how i start all my comments) and have seen a fair amount of aggressive parking behavior occur between long time neighbors. It started a few years after I moved in and some nut cracked an egg on my windshield to send a message that I still struggle to decipher. I don’t see how it could work to lay claim to the spot in front of your house. The whole street is houses. It’s literally impossible to park on my street without being in front of the house of one of my awesome neighbors. This befuddles me. As does the anger toward newbies and change. Young people arrive, old people (like me) move or die. It’s the cycle of life.

  20. You can over-think this. My reaction is Good try! But no one owns a parking spot. Believe me, I would love to be able to “reserve” the space in front of our house on Holly Park. But it’s just not on.

  21. I’m not really sure why but construction/large trucks (also AT&T trucks) park about a 18inches into our driveway even though there is adequate room at the other end of the spot to pull forward. I always passive aggressively squeeze my car between the light pole and the huge truck with about 1inch room and swear out loud with the windows rolled up.

    Could the denizens of Bernal also consider our household a couple of bona fide heroes because we park two cars in our garage? Every time I read disgruntled comments about how people don’t park in their garages I take out my sheet of gold stars and stick one next to my name on the list of over achievers in this neighborhood.

  22. We learned about this tradition from neighbors when we first moved to Bernal a few years ago. Our street is unusual though, it’s a cul de sac on a very steep grade, and houses on only one side of the street. It makes sense for all of the neighbors to respect the tradition when possible, like park on the opposite side of the street rather than in front of another neighbor’s house when possible. But people from other blocks often come up here to park and there’s not much to be done about it unless they leave their cars there for a week or more, then it’s DPT time.

  23. The time for residential permits in Bernal has clearly come. Parking is FAR worse than it was just 10 years ago. I applaud this woman for having the courtesy of signing her name to her note. That is not (as one poster wrote) passive aggressive.

  24. This makes my blood boil and reminds of a recent time when a neighbor, one that lives just around the corner from my house, left a note on my van after parking in front of his house for half a day asking me to park elsewhere as my van “takes up two spots”. I basically told him to bugger off. I’ve been a resident for 14 years and i can legally park my van (i own a furniture store so its not like the van sits for 300 days out the year) wherever i damn well please! The nerve! I also know that this neighbor himself has a long truck and wanted the spot in front of his house. Too. Bloody. Bad.

  25. For whatever it’s worth, here would be my response to the neighbor and I’d write a note to put in her mail slot:
    Dear Deirdre (or whomever), thank you so much for your note. I appreciate your sentiment and can wholly relate to your situation. I too live here nearby and would love to have the space in front of my house. Unfortunately, on our street and in our neighborhood it is often difficult to find free spots to park. I realize there may be a tradition of reserving spots for residents on our block, but as you point out these are public streets. Further to your point, there are more neighbors with cars on our block then there are houses with spaces in front (this I’m guessing), and therefore this tradition seems difficult to maintain. While I’m happy (willing?) to scan the block for other parking spaces when I arrive home, I cannot guarantee I won’t park in any available street space. I understand that you may on occasion need help with heavy items, and if I’m available (and capable), I’d be happy to assist you. Just let me know.
    Sincerely, your neighbor John Doe
    XXX Coleridge St

    While I personally agree the neighbor is a bit out of bounds (if not out of a different era) with her request, I think good relations with neighbors is paramount. Better than a note might be to meet this neighbor and express this personally. Just my two cents.

  26. You’d think it’s better in the suburbs but it’s not. In Santa Rosa, on my mother’s street, across from her house, there are exactly three houses on the entire block, all with garages. However, just two people on the her side of the street opposite manage to “get into it” over certain desired number of feet of curb in front of their rentals despite the fact that there is an ENTIRE BLOCK OF PARKING AVAILABLE FREE just 10 feet away on the other side of the street. Sadly, human nature is not at its best where parking is concerned.

  27. Disclaimer 1: We park both of our cars inside our garage, nose to tush.
    Disclaimer 2: We had the curb painted by the City because people kept encroaching on our driveway, and we’ve called for ticketing twice.
    Disclaimer 3: We’ve lived her 15 years and I’ve never heard of this “tradition”
    Disclaimer 4: I can’t stand that my neighbor across the street parks his pickup truck in front of my house routinely, and he and his son compulsively click their alarm-remotes whenever near their truck, sending sound waves through my house.

    I think this “tradition”, though kindly put, is total BS. I also think that using cones to reserve a spot is total BS. These are public streets. 72 hours is the limit in this city, so abide by the law (both ways — park anywhere you like for up to 72 hours, but not longer). The law is what we live by. Unofficial rules are written to the benefit of some and the detriment of others without process.

    However, it is better to be kind to neighbors than not to be. Help them if you can. But if you don’t have a better choice, avoiding an open parking spot is more kindness than anyone living in a city should be expected to deliver.

    PV wrote a beautiful response letter. I don’t hassle my neighbor across the street about his parking in front of my house. I only defend the ability to get in and out of my garage, since that enables me to leave two parking spaces on the street open for everyone else.

  28. I’m a long time resident (40 yrs) I’ve never heard of this “tradition”. On my block the problem derives from the “new” rich neighbors who do not use their garages and are converting their garages into illegal un-permitted living units which they rent or AirBNB. This is particularly a problem on Gates and Ellsworth where there are full-time AirBNB former garages with faux garage doors emblazoned with “No parking” signs so the resident hoteliers can continue to reserve part of the public street for their private parking place.

    • Sfmta is suppose to ask to verify by looking if the garage space actually houses a vehicle and or just your overflow stuff so if it’s really a faux sign… See what happens

      • +1 The one time I called for a tow (before we had our curb-edges painted), the SFMTA person did ask me to open my garage. He saw plenty of space for a car. My car wasn’t in it, because the person I called for a tow had blocked my access to my garage.

    • heh i’ve seen a garage door open on Crescent where the entire “opening” was drywall and had some PVC piping emerge from, then disappear back into, said wall. Probably about 6″ clearance between wall and garage door. good times!

  29. I live on Mullen Avenue. We’ve had this place in our family for 30 plus years. We own one car. When I get grumpy about parking, which means I have to park less than a block from my front door, I think about people elsewhere in the city who may have to park six blocks from their front door. I’ve gotten the same note when I parked in front of our house! In the grand scheme of things (having nearly died twice), there are bigger fish to fry in the game of life. This is an ever growing city with more and more cars entering the mix. We have to deal with it without letting it stress us out.

  30. This must be unique to Bernal. As a native , we always felt quite lucky to park within walking distances of our homes.

  31. I know not everyone has a garage, and not everyone’s garage is crammed with stuff… but certainly all across SF we’d have a tad more street space if everyone was actually using their garages for… cars!

    • I so agree with that sentiment. I was once taken to task by a neighbor who asked me to move a vehicle from in front of our house for taking up a parking spot that others could use. It’s kind of a funky little thing, but street legal and about the size of a smart car. We park our regular car in the garage. She said “well you know how hard it is to find parking for cars on this street.” And, honestly, having moved from the Mission, I had to say no – I did not find parking difficult at all. In the meantime, her garage is a storage space as are so many that I happen to see around here. It just boggles my mind. I was so thrilled to be able to buy a house with a garage (after renting a garage in the Mission).

  32. What kind of wanker runs to the local press when a neighbor writes them a simple note, signed with their name? Grow up and talk to your neighbor… don’t whine in public.

    • Exactly, we have parking issues come up regularly on this side of Bernal. Three quarters of those with parking issues talk to the neighbor in question and resolve it that way. The remaining quarter will call the police department to complain which gets the meter cops up here writing tickets, so everyone suffers. I have friends who live in areas were they have to park their cars six to ten blocks from their house. The furthest I have to park is maybe a half block away which is no big deal. I find life too interesting and worth enjoying to spend the time writing notes to people about issues that aren’t really issues. The last time I got a note stuck to my windshield, I stood in the street and yelled “would the neighbor who wrote this note like to come out and actually discuss this and perhaps start a meaningful dialog?” Of course, no one appeared. The note was signed “the neighbors” as if I’d think the entire block decided they didn’t like the way I parked. We all know each other on Mullen Avenue so we rarely have problems but when we do some neighbors act as if it’s the end of days! On a positive note, regarding notes, a women dinged my car and left a very nice note asking me to contact her about damages. I wouldn’t have even noticed the ding had she not left the note. I didn’t bother calling so she left another note. I finally called back and told her there was no reason to pay for something so small and thanked her for her honesty. Gotta love our crazy hill!

      • I will admit to leaving notes, signed, in lieu of calling in for a ticket/tow when a person is parking in such a way as to encroach on access to my garage. It’s a narrow, one-way street, and my neighbors on the other side park cars continuously along their side, so there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver. If you park in the red zone, I can have you towed. Would you not rather get a note that asks you to be a bit more mindful? Or would you prefer to learn your lesson with a fine attached? Not all notes are bad.

      • “…I stood in the street and yelled “would the neighbor who wrote this note like to come out and actually discuss this and perhaps start a meaningful dialog?” <== Sounds very Clint Eastwood-ish. 🙂

        "Of course, no one appeared." <== It would be more surprising for a note-leaver, hoping to resolve issues unilaterally through anonymity, to come out and address the person yelling in the street. Well, at least you won.

    • Did you see all the responses? It’s the kind of wanker who gets a lot of reactions because it’s a topic a lot of us feel mixed feelings about. This is exactly the place to whine about it. Some people may actually get some ideas and start acting more neighborly as a result. This is where something like a social consensus gets worked out. It doesn’t happen if you just talk to one neighbor.

  33. I feel somewhat blessed that, due to our unique block in Bernal, parking isn’t a huge problem for myself and my neighbors. Although several of us have homes without garages, we’ve managed to solve any problems that have come up. Far better than when I lived on Bryant St. in the Mission. Could rarely park in my garage due to a very busy thoroughfare, narrow driveway and cars blocking egress. Street parking was scarce, and we often parked many, many blocks. I expect to move out of the city at some point, and while parking problems may vanish, I realize I my tradeoff may be ending up with weird neighbors. I really like the ones I’ve got now!

  34. We actually use our garage. We try to leave certain spaces alone because we know who gets upset.

    What is so passive aggressive about leaving a nice note if you don’t know who the owner us. Sure beats towing or in a friend’s case. They smeared Vaseline all over his windshield!
    I have left notes. I ask .. Nicely.. for cars to not encroach the cutout especially if they have those tires attached to the back. These narrow streets and narrow driveways make it Impossible to turn out. I have missed work once. late a few times, nearly dented self and others many .
    never towed anyone.

    • You are very kind! I used to leave notes on the cars of garage-blocking offenders at my previous residence. I also missed work, but only once. After that, I realized that my ability to leave my garage to get to work was more important than being “nice”. After knocking on the doors of the neighbors on either side of my home, I would have no choice but to call and have the vehicles ticketed and towed. That in itself was a process that took time, but better late to work than not being able to show up at all. While I did fear retaliation, it didn’t occur. I could appreciate that perhaps the drivers, after going all over the neighborhood, thought they finally snagged a spot. But how one doesn’t recognize they are blocking a driveway is beyond me. Tough times in SF…

    • Forgive me, but I believe the original note, and thereby most of this thread, has been in reference to parking in front of a person’s house only, not in front of someone’s driveway. That’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

  35. Pingback: Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog San Francisco

  36. Which one of these is more “passive-aggressive”?
    1) Writing a note with your views politely stated, and signing your name?
    2) Forwarding a neighbor’s note to a neighborhood blog, without comment but possibly with the intention of shaming the neighbor?

    • Bizarre as it may seem, with this crowd it’s clearly #1. When noses are glued to devices, the view is rather narrow.

    • Which is more annoying:
      1) Reading posts by someone who is a bit holier-than-thou on the shaming thing, missing the fact that the letter did not include the note-writer’s name; or
      2) The fact that the poster could have certainly ignored the discussion entirely, while others could appreciate that it was a pretty good example of a reasonable & informative online discussion about neighborhood norms and traditions; or
      3) Both 1 and 2?

  37. One man’s tradition is another man’s inconvenience, often dictated by changes over time, as has happened with parking in Bernal in just the past decade. A “tradition” is prized only if the majority wants it to be. Then it is not, and once the cusp is met, you better not be to wedded to that tradition, since it is going the way of 700K homes in Bernal.

    Another “tradition” in Bernal is not leashing dogs, even when that’s the law (even when conflicts happen, people mostly just shrug and chalk it up to “stuff happens” since to not be invested in this tradition makes you a complete curmudgeon to so many who spout on about being “neighborly” until it no longer suits them). The voices in Bernal that favor leashing dogs cannot be heard above a dropped pin except in the most extreme circumstances–and usually those do not involve one’s own dog, since heaven would forbid that, so much is the libertarian spirit that pervades our one-time community.

    In terms of public safety–if not private sanity–the implementation of leash laws are far more important than any parking practices, lawful or traditional or (heck, since it’s Bernal) artisanal, organic, or “glamorous” ones. We tend to gripe about something we don’t have or don’t do, not things that we do have or do.

    Remember the quaint (but very interesting and informative) post on Bernalwood very recently, about coyotes in the city? One of the strategies for avoiding coyote-pet confrontations was to leash dogs. I laughed aloud; no wonder no one responded to that post–total deaf-ear territory in Bernal. The sound of silence was deafening.

    I have no dog in this fight and don’t care about what you or your dog does. I am just making a point of comparison.

  38. Our block respects the neighbors who grew up on the street and have laid claim to street spots, because they’re older and/or disabled…and because it’s the neighborly thing to do. Is it annoying at times? Of course! But is it really something to get worked up about in the big picture? Nope. Would it be better if people with garages used them? Yes! Are newcomers the only residents with multiple cars? Absolutely not.

    …we drop off our people who need assistance and unload our car, go park, and then get to stroll a couple blocks in the fresh air in our bucolic neighborhood, running into the friendly people and dogs we share it with along the way.

    And slowing down from our ultra-efficient, multi-tasking mindsets and hectic urban days to enjoy the ‘hood can only be good. We live in close quarters and the worst thing that could happen is that it feels like a battleground of entitlement.

    oxo Bernal!

  39. We recently received a similar note over on Putnam. They did not leave their name. They chastised me for not using my garage, or the spot in front of it all the time, and for my husband and I taking up 2 spots sometimes on the street. Stated it was “Not Cool” to the neighbors. I kindly left a response on my car for 2 days, agreeing that there were a lot of “Not Cool” things happening on this street, and apologizing that my parking made their list. Frankly, we can’t exactly fit a normal sized car made in this decade in the garage and get both kids out since one side is backed against the wall. But that’s not your business, just as much as what you do is not mine. As far as I am concerned, first come first served. The gall…..

    • Seems like your kids could climb over from the other side of the car. Unless they’re disabled? Of course, if you just don’t care about inconveniencing others, then you don’t care. Nothing anyone can do about that.

      • Hahhaha…nice. Instead of inconveniencing your neighbors, why can’t you inconvenience your own kids! After all, strangers ought to outweigh one’s own offspring. Human evolution 101!!

      • …And of course you shouldn’t bother teaching your children to think of others. Right, WasteNot? After all, we are talking about the precious offspring of our extremely sensitive nouveau riche. If they had to enter the car from the other side and then scoot over a few inches, they might be traumatized into thinking it was necessary, every now and then, to accommodate others. That would be a terrible outcome, wouldn’t it?

  40. Question about the 72 hours parking law: if a car is parked in the same spot (e.g. in front of the owner’s house) for two days, then is driven away for a 5 minute errand and returns to park in the same spot, does the clock get reset at that point? Or does the clock continue since it’s still parked in the same spot?

    • For residential permit parking, if you don’t have a permit, you must move your car a minimum of one block away before the time limit expires. Perhaps SFMTA might play apply the same rule.

  41. Anyone who has parked in Bernal for 30 years, as this note writer alleges, is likely to be elderly. To me, that would be ample reason to give up the space. It’s good to walk a bit if you still can, and even better to be neighborly.

  42. I’ve certainly had my share of neighbors tapping at their windows telling me I can’t park in a spot in front of their house. Particularly after doing many laps looking for a spot very far from my house, I find this to be especially frustrating and disheartening. I hope we can remember we’re largely just trying to get home.

  43. Child’s play! I respectfully asked my neighbor on Bronte Street to stop parking in front of their house on this narrow, no parking anytime steep dead end for years. They parked one of their three cars parallel to the street and made it very difficult for me to come and go from my home. In fact, often literally blocking my car in my own driveway. They responded to my active and polite request with disdain and arrogance. It wasn’t until I became active and assertive that I finally ended this rude and disrespectful behavior. And then they acted like they were the victims. Welcome to the new S.F.

  44. This is sooo ridiculous, dumb and stupid. For the person who left that note he or she should know better. If the person who left that note wanted to park then park it when its available. On street parking spaces in San Francisco is NOT a god given right, it’s first come first served simple as that! If that person who left a note wants a god given parking space, it’s very simple park it in the garage instead. This kind of behavior of leaving a note instructing someone not to park in “his or her space” is absolutely RUDE and DESPICABLE no matter how passive or kind the note is. Seriously people in that neighborhood need to stop acting like entitled snobby brats when it comes to parking on San Francisco Streets especially if it’s a parking space right in front of someone’s home.

  45. While this may be painted by some as an Oldie vs. Newbie debate, it really is not. One of the biggest problems with tightening parking in Bernal–and that is the issue, not interpreted courtesy or perceived tradition or anything else–is the number of vehicles per household, and another is what people do (or don’t do) with their garages. In terms of these 2 factors, I don’t think either a 40-year resident or someone who arrived in 2013 automatically has a more just and sensible position. Members of all generations of Bernal residents must shoulder responsibility for the situation of parking in the neighborhood, even if their reactions to it may be quite different.

    I don’t know anyone who has moved here since I have–15 years ago–who has more than 2 cars, and many have 1 or none. Why would this be? One reason is that they moved here when parking was already tight and, recognizing this fact, decided it was completely nuts to get more cars that they absolutely need; some probably sold off a vehicle and made other arrangements to get around, just due to parking problems. I would think that very few people did this decades ago, when public transit options were even worse than they are now, and when parking was plentiful (and rent/housing extremely cheap–so no need to cut an expense by jettisoning one’s wheels).

    Another reason is that most newcomers are on the young side–40 or under?– and do indeed walk or bike a lot more for transportation than older folks. This is not gross ageism but just what happens in the world (at least the First World).

    In contrast, being a longstanding resident of a place breeds accumulation of stuff, be it cars or books or furniture, especially when space is available, and since is very hard to part with things once you have them. It was possible to own and park 3 cars in Bernal easily a generation ago, but now it is very hard, even ridiculous. I would bet that virtually anyone who owns 3 or more vehicles in Bernal has been here about a decade per vehicle. They may belong to kids or other relatives who have long departed the area; in such households, it is almost absolutely certain that they are not all really necessary for transportation.

    I have a neighbor who has lived by himself for at least a decade who has 5 vehicles. Why on earth–or in Bernal–would anyone have so many? (See every reason above.)

    In terms of garages and their relationship to parking spaces, a garage transformed over time into a storage unit (more typical among long-time residents who have accumulated stuff) is the exact same as one transformed over time into a rental/AirBNB unit (maybe more typical among newer residents who want to get some income to pay off a very high mortgage). They are both “removing” a parking space from use by employing a garage for a purpose that it is not really intended. I am pretty sure that, in equal measure, there are “do not block this driveway or else!” signs plastered on both of these non-garages as farcical deterrents.

  46. I like your essay, Otis. I’m 74, lived on Bernal for 45 years. Junked my car 22 years ago. Walk, bike, public transit and now Lyft it occasionally. Hike down to Alemany Farmers Market every Saturday morning. What a wonderful place. What a horrific traffic jam. Couldn’t an offsite parking lot be identified with shuttle service for people travelling there with a private car. One big-picture solution or major alleviation of the parking crunch would be to revive the plan for a new BART stop at Mission & 30th Street. Some Bernalians might decide to join me on the Carefree Carfree Crew.

  47. Have to disagree with Otis on the stuff vrs BNB comparison. the important distinction is the stuff does not need another car and parking space but a rental AirBNB space adds yet another family/person and car to be parked – so not only takes one away but requires a second.
    There seems to be no comment about the semi-private parcels popping up removing parking spaces and the for profit dedicated car share spaces. Why can’t these car share drivers find a space like the rest of us and list on the share site where the vehicle is for the next person?

    • You make a good point; there are certainly some rentals–especially long-term ones–where someone is living in the city and has a car. We can hope that some very short-term visitors (like in Airbnbs) perhaps try to make use of public transit for their stay, but if staying in Bernal some may not want to do that, either, or just not figure out the routes with enough confidence and happiness to take the Folsom/Mission buses down to BART, etc. It could take 1.5 hours on a slow public transit day to get from south of Cortland to, say, Fort Mason or some places in Golden Gate Park. That is a haul for someone who wants to see several attractions in the space of a few days.

      It’s also a perceptive comment about the private car share companies–something far newer to this area than any other factor that is affecting parking. I saw a couple dedicated spaces not far from where I live and was absolutely stunned. I should have known better than to have had such a reaction. Instead, I should have nodded my head and said “of course” and weighed the plusses and minuses, since both exist. Even the causes and effects involved are not as straightforward as they seem.

  48. I have lived in the neighborhood for 3 years and have received 1 note and 1 text from 2 different neighbors complaining about the same thing, that I was in “their” spot! I was amazed both times and rather put off. While I can understand it’s a bit of a bother to walk half a block with a bunch of groceries, that’s city living. We have to share the space. I think it’s rude to expect that no one can park in “your” spot when it’s a public street. Sure, you can be a little disappointed, but it’s not that bad. It’s not like you have to drive around for a half hour looking for another spot. There is likely one across the street!
    I realize things are getting tighter in Bernal due to the illegal units (there is one in the house I rent which added two cars to my block just 4 months ago) and families having multiple cars, but I agree with another commenter that pointed out that hey all this gentrification has caused your home to be worth $1mil, (at least for now), so cry me a river, or just move.

  49. Blah blah entitlement blah blah gentrification blah blah rude blah blah PARKING PARKING PARKING ARGLE BARGLE. There, that should cover the rest of the comments for this post, and every other Bernalwood parking post. I just saved you some time. Maybe you can use it constructively, like go clear the fennel out of Precita Park.

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