Ask the Parking Guru: I Parked Legally But My Neighbors Had Me Towed


Dear Parking Guru,
I was going to Chicago for a few days, leaving on a Tuesday and returning on Friday. I parked my car on Vicksburg St. in Noe Valley before I left for the airport. The only signs posted said, "No parking on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month for street-sweeping."  There are no meters, and no residential permit signs.
My car was towed on the Tuesday afternoon that I flew out. Special event signs were posted giving 24 hours notice to move all cars from the front of the house I was parked near.  The owners of the property were moving and they obtained a parking permit for the day during their move. As a result I was towed.

I've revisited the site and there are no signs indicating that streets need to be checked daily for special postings. I was legally parked for the three days I was away. Do I have any recourse in this matter?

Dear J.T.
I am sorry to hear about your getting towed.  It is such a surreal experience, and really can keep things out of balance for weeks.  And, you now have $500 less in your bank account.
I have some good holiday news for you though.  You may be getting your money back if you parked your car after 8:01 am on Tuesday.  Let me explain why.  Moving permits are a fantastic idea.  They allow people who are moving to guarantee that their truck is going to be able to park near their residence.  They also prevent the truck from having to double park. Moving van parking permits are issued by the SFPD, not the SFMTA. For people who would like to get one when they move, contact the police station that has jurisdiction over the location for which you want to obtain the permit.  They cost $166.66.
The police department is responsible for posting these signs 24 hours in advance on metered streets and 72 hours in advance on non-metered streets.  This sign states that the move is for Thursday 12/8 at 8 am.  So, it should have been posted by 8 am on Tuesday 12/6, the day that you got towed.
You will either get your money back, depending on one question: So, J.T. for $469.50, what time was your flight for Chicago?
Why in the world does that matter you ask?  Well, the sign needed to be posted by 8 am on Tuesday to give you 72 hours notice.  If you parked after 8 am on Tuesday, an the sign was not put up until 9 am, then you were only given 71 hours notice.  If the sign was posted only 24 hours in advance, then they definitely made a big mistake and this is a slam dunk.
Now, the other definite error is that you were towed on Tuesday.  If you were going to be towed for this moving permit violation, then it should have been between 8 am and 6 pm on Thursday, which is the valid times of the permit.
This was messed up six ways to Sunday, and if I were the judge, I'd give you double your money back.
Contest the ticket by dropping off a written protest (M-F, 8 am - 5 pm) or mailing it to the SFMTA service center at 11 South Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94103.
Then you need to request a tow hearing to get your money back for the improper tow.  There are enough wrongly towed vehicles to have a dedicated number to request a hearing. That number is 415.701.5400. Call it and request a hearing for your situation.
If you'd like to avoid being towed over the holidays or would like to give the gift of no parking tickets ever again, click here.

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