November 29, 2007
Forget About The In-Law, What If The Parking Is (Was) Unwarranted?
"It’s already illegal for city residents to pave their front yards without permission, but one supervisor’s legislation is intended to give inspectors the teeth to enforce the ban. District 11 Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval will introduce legislation next week that would empower Planning Department inspectors to hand out or mail citations for violations of zoning regulations."
"Residents are pulling out gardens and lawns from their front yards and filling them with concrete. Doing so provides an extra parking spot, but Sandoval said it has far-reaching ill effects. “We passed a law several years ago to make it illegal, but people continue to do it,” he said. “We are in danger of becoming a concrete city.”
∙ Sandoval takes aim at illegal property paving [Examiner]
First Published: November 29, 2007 7:10 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Go further please.
All properties should be required to have some green space adjoining the sidewalk. Driveways should lead to a garage, or if there is no garage, then only a one car driveway should be allowed.
There are some parts of the city where the sidewalks are substantially wider then neccesary. Some of that area should also be converted to green space.
I drive, and parking in my neighborhood can be a pain, but I would rather have more green and less parking, no question.
Posted by: missionite at November 29, 2007 8:28 AM
Just park on the front lawn. Problem solved.
Posted by: Stu at November 29, 2007 8:47 AM
I agree missionite. And this is one of the few shiny spots on Sandoval's pedestrian career as a supervisor.
And in his district, this is a major problem....so much crap is done without permits (or concern for the commonweal) in that part of town. In more prosperous areas, you'd have neighbors screaming bloody murder.
One of my biggest pet peeves in MY neighborhood is the addition of garages to existing buildings. These additions wipe out at least one (sometimes two) public parking spaces on the street, and have the additional indignity of destroying 90% of the front garden space for the property. In my one block alone, this has happened to five properties over the last few years, both diminishing the charm of the street and decreasing available street parking.
I would love to see a more rigorous process in approving these garage additions that takes the public interest into greater account.
Posted by: curmudgeon at November 29, 2007 8:49 AM
Trust me, it aint particularly easy to create a garage in this city. ("Trust me" -- ha ha. I actually just said that on Socketsite.) The voters spoke three weeks ago anyway. H lost.
Posted by: fluj at November 29, 2007 9:25 AM
And apologies in advance, but if you have a warren of relatively useless low ceiling rooms beneath your property, you should be able to create a garage if you so desire. Rooms with no chance of becoming a second unit due to light and air issues, or height restrictions -- homeowners should be allowed to put a garage in these if they freaking want to.
Come on now. Most people who put in new garages must necessarily upgrade from brick to concrete foundations, anyway. It isn't so black and white. When the (often hard fought) permit is issued, the city turns it into a preservation act as well.
Posted by: fluj at November 29, 2007 9:31 AM
This is ridiculous.
I come home late everynight and i'm never able to find a parking space. So I park two cars in my driveway since it's already paved when the house was purchased. But recently, I got a warning citation for the second car! What am I suppose to do? Double park on the street?
I'm all for making the streets greener, and prohibiting people from paving their lawns, but we should be able to park two cars if they want.
Posted by: tony at November 29, 2007 9:40 AM
Unfortunately, you don't really have a "right" to park two cars in your driveway, IF your second car is blocking the sidewalk. Sorry, but you don't. Sidewalks are for people.
The planning and municipal code strictly defines no parking from the front property line to the curb, and that included your actual driveway lane that goes to your garage.
Posted by: noearch at November 29, 2007 9:59 AM
I'm assuming you were encroaching on the sidewalk Tony? Or have you run afoul of the law posted above and purchased a home with unwarranted parking?
I feel your pain, as we have been too busy to sell our old car which means for the past month we have three cars to deal with parking. No fun, let me tell you, and yes there have been some tickets. But, to put it bluntly: tough titties.
If you can't afford to spend half an hour to an hour every night looking for parking, and walking a mile or more to get home (and yes, I've been there, particularly when I lived in Dolores Heights), or conversely, if you can't afford to rent a garage space in your neighborhood, then despite being a homeowner, you just can't afford to be a car owner. Ironic, isn't it?
Your other options: get a motorcycle, ride your bike, join a car share, carpool with workers, take a cab, use public transportation, walk, run, crawl.
Or go buy a jetpack.
Posted by: missionite at November 29, 2007 10:11 AM
Just get a Smart car. You can park two of those in one regular space.
Posted by: Jimmy (Bitter Renter) at November 29, 2007 10:18 AM
I know it's waaaaay to late to do anything about this in SF, but Chicago solved this problem through the use of alleys through out the city.
Garages face the alleys and sidewalks remain green and have few if any driveways to impede pedestrians or street parking.
Daniel Burnham's comprehensive plan for the city of Chicago ,which included large amounts of green space (specifically 20 miles of prime lakefront real estate), still serves Chicago well to this day. Unfortunately San Francisco rejected Burnham's visionary plan and is still paying the price.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at November 29, 2007 10:22 AM
"homeowners should be allowed to put a garage in these if they freaking want to."
Ok, but should they always be allowed effectively to take away public street parking to provide ingress/egress to/from said garage?
Posted by: Amen Corner at November 29, 2007 11:19 AM
Badlydrawnbear: I never thought about the alleys as the reason why Chicago has those nice leafy streets in the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park whereas San Francisco doesn't have many blocks, if any, that have that much greenery. (I've lived in both cities.)
The boulevard system, connecting to the parks, was genius too. I encourage anyone visiting Chicago to drive at least a portion of the boulevard system.
That being said, we in Chicago have to drive around for blocks to find street parking as well. And some of the new McMansions being built in Lincoln Park have run afoul of laws by building these massive garages too close to the sidewalk (where there are no alleys on those certain streets.)
Posted by: Sabrina at November 29, 2007 11:25 AM
Excellent point badlydrawn bear - we should have listed to that guy rather than just naming a little alleyway after him. It just seems like the parking crisis is going to get much worse. Of course I support the idea of a greener city with more people using public transit and scooters and bikes - but doesn't almost everyone have (or want - or need) their own car? With Prop H failing and all these future developments being built with fewer than 1 parking spot per unit, how will the demand for parking be met? Will leased spaces go for $1,000 per month? I'm suprised that most buyers of expensive new condos find just 1 parking space acceptable. I can't imagine buying a place without any parking - but I'm still trying to get over my out-of-state suburban past. Should be interesting to watch - in the meantime, the city can count on ever increasing parking ticket revenues.
Posted by: FSBO at November 29, 2007 11:32 AM
As a homeowner with a garage, I will always vote against any measures that try to permit more garages to be added/built. Supply and demand.
Posted by: Craig at November 29, 2007 11:40 AM
Amen Corner, you truncated my point.
But the person adding a garage in that scenario is also taking one or two cars off the street, or out of other paid parking areas. And let's not kid ourselves that it would even be a 1:1 ratio citywide, in the first place. There are lots of smallish spaces and wierd street space zones in front of houses that could use a garage. Not to mention metered spots.
Posted by: fluj at November 29, 2007 11:49 AM
no more garages. please.
I car per household is more than enough
Posted by: Spencer at November 29, 2007 11:59 AM
Fluj - The reason you can't park two cars in a driveway in San Francisco is because it blocks the sidewalk. People with use of their legs can walk around your car - but someone in a wheelchair cannot. It may not have happened to you yet - but San Francisco Parking Municipality with ticket you upwards of $200-$250 per ticket for blocking a sidewalk with your car.
Just so you know why that rule exists!
Posted by: secki007 at November 29, 2007 12:42 PM
I never said anything about two cars in a driveway? What I said was that I am all for the creation of garages from unusable rooms down. One or two cars. That would actually get cars off the road, in my opinion. But the voting body thought differently. The progressives managed to make it into, "New garages = more cars." Meanwhile, people who need cars already have them, and probably park them on the street.
Posted by: fluj at November 29, 2007 12:49 PM
"But the person adding a garage in that scenario is also taking one or two cars off the street, or out of other paid parking areas."
Maybe, maybe not. Seems to me this argument may be similar to the argument that building more roads will reduce congestion, whereas typically what happens is that people drive more. I don't think this is a clearcut issue one way or the other, quite honestly, but I do think it's unfortunate when street parking in an area gets decimated by the close proximity of adjacent driveways.
Posted by: Amen Corner at November 29, 2007 1:19 PM
Oh yes, lets enforce the don't pave over your lawn law cause that is somehow much more significant than all of the other laws that we don't actually enforce...
Posted by: Andy at November 29, 2007 1:33 PM
Fair enough. I still think that people who need a car around here already have one. I've met quite a few people over the years who have garages but don't drive. In this town anyway, if you don't drive, you don't drive. Heck. Most people around here who don't drive are actually pretty anti-car.
But say you owned a property in SF with unlivable rooms down, and all your neighbors had garages. Wouldn't you want one too?
Posted by: fluj at November 29, 2007 1:37 PM
But say you owned a property in SF with unlivable rooms down, and all your neighbors had garages. Wouldn't you want one too?
No. Relative lack of cars (and the associated increase in, you know, people) is the reason I moved to San Francisco. There are plenty of houses to buy with garages. If I have unlivable space in the back yard, should I be able to build a twelve story tower?
Posted by: Brutus at November 29, 2007 3:53 PM
The twelve story tower would impact your neighbors access to light and air. Something protected under current code. Putting a car under your house would not limit your neighbors access to light and air (ironic, I know). The curb cut is the dicey issue, I have mixed feeling on this one. But for areas with curb cuts already, give the owner a garage. Sorta cool look/feel in the norther part Tenderloin/south nob hill where there are not curb cuts on some of the blocks.
Posted by: peanut gallery at November 29, 2007 4:19 PM
"1 car per household is more than enough"
This is the most ridiculous comment here. A family of 4 should only have 1 car? Plenty of homes have 2-car garages.
Posted by: Michael at November 29, 2007 4:28 PM
"This is the most ridiculous comment here. A family of 4 should only have 1 car? Plenty of homes have 2-car garages."
I do think 1 car per househould, even with a family of 4, is enough. You live in a CITY. There is public transportation, you can walk, you can bike or you can use those zipcars. or you can use the 1 car that you already have
and if you do have 2 cars, then you can park the other one of the street like everyone else instead of removing street spaces to satisy your nesting instinct.
Posted by: Spencer at November 29, 2007 4:43 PM
"You live in a CITY."
Yes, we live in a city where Muni is unreliable, BART barely bisects the city, and it can take an hour on public transportation just to reach the Cal Train station.
So what happens if you bought a place that was listed as having "parking" but is actually an illegal parking pad? Harder to hide than an illegal in-law.
Posted by: nonanon at November 29, 2007 5:11 PM
Additional curb cuts, as well as additional cars added to the neighborhood (no need for the BS about off street parking "taking cars off the street") severely impact the quality of life of residents in the area - in my opinion at similar levels to the addition of a view-blocking tower.
Look at car-ownership levels in Nob Hill as opposed to the Bayview - car-ownership rates are tied to availability of parking more than they are wealth.
Posted by: Brutus at November 29, 2007 6:11 PM
Let me add another thought to the mix...
My own pet peeve is people who HAVE a garage and choose not to park in it, instead storing their junk in the garage and parking on the street.
I'd love to see the law changed so that if you have a garage, you are ineligible for a parking permit, unless you own more cars than the garage is designed for. In other words, if you have a one car garage, you would not be able to get a parking permit for your first car. (Heck, I'd also support limiting parking permits to one or maybe two per household, reduced by the number of garage spaces you have.)
Let's use garages for their intended purpose - to park cars - and get more cars off the street.
By the way, my understanding is that one of the requirements for a curb cut for a new garage is that is provide twice as many spaces as will be lost from the curb cut. Maybe someone can verify this. Also, I think the rules on adding garages became much stricter in the last year -- that's why so many garages got added recently, lots of folks rushed to squeeze in their approval before the new rules went into effect. Not sure if those changes were citywide or just in certain neighborhoods.
Posted by: Dave at November 29, 2007 9:52 PM
Sorry Fluj - My comment was meant for Tony - I read the Posted By: incorrectly!
Posted by: secki007 at November 30, 2007 6:46 AM
I like your ideas, but I think the best idea would be to just let the market handle neighborhood parking permits. Market pricing of the permits (with a set number allowed per neighborhood, based on the number of spots) would do a lot to curb parking congestion. I know a lot of people that keep a car around and move it once a week or so, because it only costs $60 a year. In some neighborhoods, I can imagine market-pricing would put permits above $1000 a year. Of course, market pricing of meters would help too (and is being discussed in some parts of the city).
There is absolutely ZERO reason that the city should be subsidizing the cost of storing cars.
Posted by: Brutus at November 30, 2007 7:57 AM
I agree with market pricing for parking but I'd rather see it done with active meters so that time of day pricing could be implemented.
In my castro neighborhood there's only a 4 hour period every evening where parking is a problem. There's no reason parking can't be cheap outside of those hours.
Posted by: diemos at November 30, 2007 8:05 AM
I agree 100%, diemos. In my mind, market-pricing doesn't mean raising the price necessarily - in some places the cost may drop for the whole day. It should be real-time market pricing - they do it plenty of other places (including Redwood City), we should be able to do it here - the technology is not difficult.
Posted by: Brutus at November 30, 2007 9:26 AM
"Also, I think the rules on adding garages became much stricter in the last year -- that's why so many garages got added recently,"
This is a rumor that I've heard more than once. I've consulted a general contractor about it. The real deal seems to be that the now faild prop H legislation, which actually was the opposite, somehow got people to think a ban was around the corner.
Posted by: fluj at November 30, 2007 11:21 AM
I am reminded of the guy in my building a few years ago that kept the prime street spot (between two curb cuts) by always keeping one of his two cars there. He basically owned that spot for years for the cost of two permits and a wife that helped him do the shuffle, so cassic. Area had no street cleaning so he was not worried about that.
Posted by: peanut gallery at November 30, 2007 11:34 AM
peanut gallery: that's a pretty funny story! I had a similar neighbor ten years ago who put an orange cone in the middle of a parking spot when he darted out to the store, and it almost always was there when he got back. In any case, he never lost the cone.
Posted by: dub dub at November 30, 2007 12:11 PM
The problem is, if he can ALWAYS keep a car in that spot, why did he need two cars at the first place?
Posted by: John at November 30, 2007 2:23 PM
@john -- maybe one car is an evil SUV they use on the "weekend", the other is the shitty prius he drives to work every day (single occupancy, of course) in the carpool lane ;)
Posted by: dub dub at November 30, 2007 2:28 PM
When we were househunting we looked for a garage-less place - they cost less. About 70 to 100K less at the time (about five years ago). We ended up with a garage, but owned no car so it was full of stuff.
Also, part of the motivation to unpave those illegal garden parking spots is to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that goes into our combined stormwater/sewage treatment plants. One parking spot sized asphalt space generates about 1,800 gallons of stormwater runoff per year. We all pay to treat that water through our water and sewer bills. And it looks ugly.
Posted by: Bink at November 30, 2007 4:13 PM
Let's not forget the ugly, treeless streetscape created on many City blocks by driveway next to driveway next to driveway (Sunset, Alemany, San Jose Ave.). Tree basins remove stormwater, and trees remove CO2 from the air; but neither will happen on blocks where every building has a driveway. The HERL laboratory at U of Illinois has correlated safer neighborhoods with more greenery, too.
Posted by: SoCha at December 2, 2007 12:35 AM
Regarding trees and driveways..from my own informal survey on several treeless blocks in Noe Valley, it IN FACT is possible to put in one tree virtually IN FRONT of every property..even with driveways..There is space. It just takes a commitment to want to do it. I put in 8 trees on my corner property working with the Friends of the Urban Forest. Some neighbors simply did not want a tree in front of their house. I even offered to pay for it. No luck. It's very possible to really green up this city, but it takes desire and ambition to just do it.
Posted by: noearch at December 3, 2007 8:39 AM
greening up the city would entail taking back all those illegally converted garages into bedrooms. that never should have been allowed. nobody does it right or to code. worse yet, it puts another car on the street every day and night. what a nightmare!
Posted by: james at December 3, 2007 9:56 AM
That is the funny part, he needed the 2nd car to save his parking spot...
Posted by: peanut gallery at December 4, 2007 11:22 AM
noearch- undergrounded utilities can limit the number of places where sidewalk trees can be planted. My next door neighbor really wanted a tree, but FUF had the sidewalk in front of her home checked out and it was IN FACT impossible.
Posted by: Elizabeth at March 29, 2008 9:52 AM