Parking Magic or Illusion?

Parking Magic or Illusion?


Dear Parking Guru,

In my neighborhood, a neighbor has a “no parking” sign on a the fence of a single-family home residential property. It has been up for a while and the house is now for sale. Can you "reserve" sidewalk parking in front of your home? Is this legal? If this is indeed an illegal sign, who at the city should be contacted so it can be taken down?

I was hoping you might have an answer to this predicament, as I park in this area every day. Your columns are always helpful - thank you!

 - Fenced In


Dear Fenced In,

When I lived in Potrero several years ago, I found myself in a similar situation.  A house had at one time had a driveway and a garage. It had long since been converted into a living space which expanded out to the sidewalk. It had a normal front door, not a garage door. They had posted a similar “tow away” sign.

What I was told by SFMTA was that anybody can post any sort of sign they want on their own property. It does not mean that it is enforceable. But, it is not illegal and cannot be ordered to be removed, as it is posted on private property.

It appears that you are in a similar situation. There is no driveway, the fence is built on top of a two-foot stone wall, and it seems as though there is no possible way that a car is going to go beyond the fence without first dismantling it or by crashing through it.

So, your parking on the street in front of the sign, would not appear to be impeding any vehicle in any way. Therefore, it appears that they have done some San Francisco magic…legal creation of the illusion of their own reserved spot on the street. This illusion is effective largely due to the fear of being towed. 

I’m only looking at one photo, so in case I’m missing something that I can’t see, I recommend calling SFMTA and requesting a parking officer to be dispatched to investigate. They will tell you officially whether or not it is enforceable. 

Your neighbor will more than likely be allowed to keep the sign posted, and you will now share a “reserved” spot with them for free. Be assured that your neighbor will probably put up some sort of a fight. If you handle it with grace and politeness, and inform them of the facts you obtained from SFMTA, hopefully, as it did in my situation, all will be well, and you just scored parking gold…for a while, until all of the neighbors catch on.

 Let us know how it works out.


David LaBua is the author of Finding the Sweet Spot, a leader in the sustainable urban mobility movement, and founder of VoicePark, the world’s first voice-guided mobile app guiding drivers to the closest available parking spot in real-time...for free. You can follow him on twitter@ParkingGuru.

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