Some Parking Advice for Santa as He Prepares for His Forthcoming Visit to Bernal


Dear Santa,

As you know, we’ve been very good in Bernal Heights this year, so we’re really excited about your forthcoming visit. However, as you plan your trip to our lovely neighborhood, we wanted to share this urgent pro tip: Don’t street-park your sleigh while making your rounds in Bernal.

Sadly, it seems there isn’t much seasonal cheer when it comes to street parking here. For example, Neighbor Valerie shared a photo of the sign shown above; it was was spotted on a Prospect Street after some sad neighbors had their car towed away at the behest of another neighbor with an unresolved Grinch complex. Awwww.

Meanwhile, Neighbor Ashley explains why she won’t be parking on Newman:

I just learned something that I think some of my fellow Bernalese (at least those south of Cortland) traveling this holiday season may appreciate knowing as they prepare to depart. If you leave your car on Newman for more than three days, one of the residents of that street will apparently call the city and have your car ticketed, or so I was warned.

Backstory: I’ve lived on Ellert for 9 years and never noticed that Newman didn’t have street cleaning. I went to move my car this morning and asked a couple who was standing outside of their house if they had street cleaning today (it being the 2nd Monday of the month). They told me they had no street cleaning. Shocked, I blurted out, “So I can leave my car here when I go away?” One of them replied, “Well, we like to park here too.”

I get it. I feel slightly inconvenienced when I have to park more than a block away because I’m so used to being able to park on my street or right around the corner. I know that’s ridiculous.

I told them that I was only going away for three days – I didn’t want them to think I was going to become a parking squatter or anything. I also hoped it would garner me some sympathy. That’s when the other person told me that “one of the neighbors” will call the city if you leave your car there for more than three days.” I got the message and promised I wouldn’t park there. Which I won’t. I don’t want to inconvenience my fellow Bernalese or come home to a ticket.

I’m not passing judgment on the neighborliness of calling the city on your fellow Bernal residents who park on a street not their own for extended, or semi-extended periods of time, forcing residents on that street to park a block or two away. I’m assuming this is a real problem (otherwise why would they call the city?), and it’s one I don’t face so I don’t actually know how frustrating it is. I’d probably be bit miffed though. The point of this long, boring story is just to let other people facing a similar parking dilemma that Newman St. may not be a good idea.

Happy holidays!

Got that, Santa? Just leave the sleigh in hover mode, and we’ll have some sugar cookies waiting on a plate when you drop by.

Oh, and one more thing: If you could also pick up any reindeer poop left behind by Donner, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,, et al., bag it, and put it in a nearby garbage can, that would be great too. Cool?

Thanks again, big guy!!


The Citizens of Bernalwood

44 thoughts on “Some Parking Advice for Santa as He Prepares for His Forthcoming Visit to Bernal

  1. It sucks what happened, but, in order to get a car towed you have to have not checked on your car in over a week. You get a sign after 3 days, then another 2-3 to move it and then I think it’s when it’s towed. I live in the neighborhood and know which blocks are friendlier or not and would never park my car for multiple days on Prospect because I know that block gets picky.

    If you live in the area with a car you know the vibe of the streets.

  2. I live on a street with no street cleaning so people leave their cars here a lot when going on vacation. Whatever one person thinks is ok is multiplied. I suggest if you leave your car on a street for more than 3 days, have a neighbor/friend move it after 3 days. It’s a problem for everyone. It’s not just that people are being mean spirited. (though there are a few). one day there was a car not only for over a week in front of my house but sticking a bit in the driveway. I finally called the police and it turns out it was a stolen car. The owner was happy I had called!

  3. Aaaaaaaaagggggggghhh. This is madness, people. JUST INSTITUTE PARKING PERMITS FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD ALREADY. PLEASE.

    • NO. NO. NO. NO. NO! The problem isn’t non-residents parking here, which is what the permit system is meant to solve. The problem is folks who falsely expect they should be able to park right in front of their house. Moving to parking permits just puts more money into the DPT coffers and puts Bernal on the the DPT patrol route.

      • But we _do_ have a nonresidents parking here, and this is a contributor to the general rage around parking in the neighborhood. Personally I’d be happy to cut back on street parking, mind you, but trying to get locals to get rid of their cars seems to be a losing battle. So at least cut back on the competition for spaces.

  4. If it makes you feel any better, they call the police on me when I park on Newman , 1 house away from my House on Bennington…The funny part is to the best that I can figure, “the caller” lives on Bennington but their house runs along Newman.. .

  5. In California street parking is only permitted for 72 hours at a time. While any given car may not get called on, you have to realizing you’re running the risk of being towed if you leave your car parked for a longer time.

    We have people stash cars on our block all the time, especially around the holidays. And we also have problems with people buying semi-derelict cars and stowing them in front of our house. Always thrilled to see a tow truck bring a car up the hill and leave it on our block.

    That’s why our neighbors have always been diligent about calling on cars we don’t recognize.

  6. The LAW is: You must move your car every 72 hours PERIOD. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live. Since everyone in the city knows that Bernal is a free parking zone with no restrictions (except the few streets with street cleaning) we are a dumping ground for cars. In order to make this equitable we NEED permit parking just like every other neighborhood in SF. I have never seen a car towed in less than 8-10 days unless it is in someone’s driveway. 3 days parked, someone calls, takes 2-3 days to put notice on car to move it, then 3 more days before it is towed. Weekends don’t count, so you are looking at minimum 8- 10 days reprieve. Just move your car if you don’t want a problem.

  7. I’ve had my car stolen twice in Bernal. The first time, I found it myself when passing it on Virginia Street ( I didn’t even know it was missing); the second time I had to wait 2 weeks, when someone called it into the police, because it was blocking their driveway. Obviously, I was also glad that the person called it in, even though I had to a pay a ridiculous sum to get it out of police storage. That was the real crime.

  8. Can someone please explain the argument against street parking? I just don’t understand why we wouldn’t want permit marking in our neighbourhoods and want to make sure I get both sides of the argument. Thanks!

    • I can barely afford my bills every month after a huge rent increase. Adding a fee to park in my area of the neighborhood (north side but at the top where there is *no* parking shortage but within the zone of the proposed permit area) is a financial burden. I realize that most of the people in the neighborhood are not in my shoes and probably see it as a small sum of money, but it counts in my family and in the two other families in my building.

  9. As far as I can gather, the main argument against permit parking, is that your visiting friends and neighbors will get ticketed if they park their car for more than 2 hours on your street. I’m all for family not staying too long, but this seems a little extreme.

  10. I don’t understand why this person is getting upset at a neighbor. It’s not the neighbors fault you got towed, you left your car past the time limit. Maybe the neighbor was a little quick to dial DPT, but you wouldn’t get towed if you hadn’t parked there over the limit to begin with. DPT won’t tow your car until they’ve confirmed you’ve been there 3 days. So you get 3 days from the point DPT sees your car…which is like 6 days since you parked it. That is, unless you’re blocking someones driveway or parked illegally. By leaving your car for that long you’re depending on luck that you don’t get towed. That’s on you, not your neighbor.

  11. To b: Sometimes I don’t use my car for a week or two. If it was towed from outside of my house during that time, I think I would be upset too. I also object to people using Bernal as a dumping ground for their cars, but isn’t it worthwhile leaving a polite note on the car, just in case it belongs to a neighbor? Better yet, get to know your neighbors.

  12. There’s a misunderstanding that a lot of people here are sharing. The person calling doesn’t have to wait three days to call. He can call as soon as the car is parked. It’s happened to me.

    • I believe that the person must declare their knowledge that the car has not moved in 72 hours. The person can exaggerate; but that’s something else.

      • It’s totally unverifiable, which is why the city then allows a further 72 hours before they actually do anything. I had a 4-day thing happen to me just recently. As it happened; I was on top of what was going on; and the city notice simply guaranteed the amount of time I actually wanted (ha ha!), but it was reassuring to know my neighbors are ready to stab me in the back at the first available opportunity; even though I left a note in the window explaining the situation.

  13. @ksmdar, I agree it sucks to get towed, but don’t blame the neighbor. Yes, some neighbors are jerks, and some car owners are jerks. If a car owner decides to park a car for over 3 days, they risk getting towed. That’s not the fault of the neighbor, that’s the fault of the car owner.

  14. Wonder why 72 hours is the trigger. Why not 24? Why not 96? Or any multiple of 12 for that matter?

  15. I used to live within walking distance of Glen Park BART, a block outside of the residential permit zone, and we had a huge problem with people going on vacation, leaving their cars on our block, then taking BART to the airport rather than paying for long-term off-street parking (or getting a friend to watch/move the car). It sucks to get your car towed, but in my experience, the SFMTA will watch the car for a few days after someone calls it in, check the registration address to see if it’s a neighborhood resident (based on the fact that they’ve knocked on neighbor’s doors to warn them), leave a note telling them them need to move the car, and only then — usually at least a week later — will they tow it. So yeah, it sucks to get towed, but it’s also pretty easy to avoid it.

  16. If someone is parked improperly, I try to discover and contact the owner. It’s a big help if you leave your phone number on the dashboard.

    • This is crazy. If someone is blocking my driveway I’m not going to spend any energy looking for them, calling them, or whatever else. They’re the inconsiderate jerks, they deserve to be towed, and I hope it costs them a lot of money. I just wish the tow truck would arrive sooner. Too often the driver shows up, all apologetic, after I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes. Screw ’em.

      • There are two very different scenarios here: 1) a person parks their car in a legal spot for an illegal amount of time (over 72 hours) and someone calls it in. 2) a person parks their car illegally (such as blocking a driveway) and the person whose driveway is blocked calls for a tow.

        This post is about the first scenario. The second is unambiguous. I have never read an argument in a parking thread on Bernalwood that expressed some sort of justification for a driveway-blocker.

        Save your ire.

  17. I had a car park in my driveway once (by mistake). When DPT arrived, they informed me that the guy lived on my street and gave me the option of calling first rather, than towing (which I did). Happy endings all around.

    Like the idea of leaving your phone number on the dash. Maybe the street where you live too.

      • I’ve been wondering about that excuse as well. Like the driveway and garage door aren’t big enough clues. Yeah, I’m talking to all you PRIUS drivers out there…

  18. This is a problem lately on Prospect. We live a block away on Coleridge, and diligently move our car every 72 hours. My husband went to move it the other day and a neighbor walking her dog advised him that one of the neighbors was going to call to report it as abandoned. ?! We would not have gotten a ticket because we weren’t breaking any of the rules, but it fosters such a sense of disease and unfriendliness amongst neighbors. Meanwhile, there are cars that have been parked there for months but I assume are acceptable because they belong to people who live on Prospect.

  19. Folks should not leave their cars parked in one spot for more than three days or they run the risk of getting a ticket/being towed. The following also irks me: (1) Residents who think the space in front of their house is their private parking spot and put traffic cones on the street to save the space when they go out so that they have parking in front of their home when they return. These residents are basically saying “screw you” to their neighbors because people looking for parking will end up parking in front of the neighbor’s house. (2) Campers and camper vans that park on Bernal Heights Blvd. for extended periods of time. They work the system and move their vehicles so many feet when they receive DPT’s warning, then continue moving their vehicle, staying on Bernal Heights Blvd., restarting the 72 hour warning every time. For a while, Penske moving trucks were frequently parked there overnight, sometimes even 3 at a time. I think, at a minimum, we should restrict overnight parking for these types of vehicles on Bernal Heights Blvd.

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