August 10, 2011

Simply Lip Service For Green Landscaping In San Francisco?

San Francisco Sidewalk Scofflaws

It’s time for a (slightly edited) guest editorial from a plugged-in reader:

I am a homeowner in SF's 11th political district. The neighborhoods in my district have the potential to be charming, but unfortunately many people think it's OK to pave over their front yards to then use the space to park their cars on the sidewalk illegally.
Almost every month I see a new front yard disappearing to make space to park cars on the sidewalk. The result is blighted, dire looking neighborhoods, lower property prices, and an unsafe environment for pedestrians who have to navigate around cars parked on the sidewalk.
In addition to laws against sidewalk parking (which is not enforced by the city, only upon complaint), to my knowledge, the city of San Francisco has laws against paving over front yards, as well as the "Green Landscaping Ordinance" which stipulates that a certain percentage in front of every building has to be devoted to landscaping. Yet I have been unable to get the city to enforce the law in my district, even though I made repeated attempts to do so.
There are three cases I can mention, each of which I have filed a complaint for with the city authorities:
1. 730 Huron Ave: has their front yard paved over. The complaint can be tracked here. The case has been "abated", but I wonder how that came about, since the building clearly is not in compliance with the code. Thanks to the City "abating this case", in the space of the former front yard now often one or two cars are parked, blocking the entirety of the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into the street. I do sometimes call this in to the DPT, but I do have a day job and it would be nice if instead the City authorities could do their job.
2. 40 Sears Street: had a very large front yard paved over on which now a pickup truck regularly parks. I have filed a complaint with the DBI and am awaiting the results.
3. 901 Huron Ave: a house that was one of the best looking on our street, a corner house with beautiful lawn all around it. It recently sold and yesterday my wife and I noticed that a part of the lawn was already paved over, with a pickup parked on the sidewalk and former site of the lawn.
My questions are these: are we simply we wasting taxpayer dollars on making ordinances and printing colorful brochures about sidewalk greening, since we don't actually take them seriously and enforce them? Or will these laws be ever enforced to prevent further blighting of the City's neighborhoods?
San Francisco is said to be a beautiful city, but once you look beyond the parks and beaches, City Hall, Russian Hill and Valencia Street, the neighborhoods where actual families live look more and more terrible by the day.

Good questions. Let's see if we can't drum up some equally good answers.

Guide To San Francisco's Green Landscaping Ordinance [SocketSite]
Coming Soon: Guidelines For Tending Concrete Gardens Out Front [SocketSite]

First Published: August 10, 2011 3:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I have to agree.

With a city so in love with all things green the amount of pavement that has been poured is shocking.

And don't even get me started on parking enforcement. No other city in America is so laizze faire regarding parking enforcement.

To see cars parked on the sidewalk, blocking access into and out of buildings, during street cleaning and watcing parking enforcement drive by and does NOTHING is truly stunning.

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at August 10, 2011 3:21 PM

One of our city's problems is that there is virtually no enforcement of anything. There's no traffic law enforcement, no planning code enforcement, etc. I'm exaggerating only slightly when I say "no" enforcement - there's a tiny bit, but not enough to make a dent. Planning, for example, has four people doing code enforcement for the entire city. There are thousands and thousands of cases which never get addressed due to lack of personnel to do so.

It's been my experience that the squeaky wheels get the grease, so I'd just keep complaining, as onerous as that is, and maybe you'll eventually get some action. But it's a deplorable situation (and God forbid the trend of paving over greenery starts spreading to other neighborhoods.)

Posted by: Dubocian at August 10, 2011 3:30 PM

Location Location Location has many different meanings..

Posted by: Mike at August 10, 2011 3:32 PM

I live in the Sunset and when we bought our house six years ago it had a paved over area in front just like the images. Our neighbor decided to remove his and plant grass which initially looked great, but now looks pretty bad. Somehow moles (or are they voles) found this tiny patch of green exciting and have destroyed it, he didn't put in an irrigation system so like most of the grass in SF it goes brown every summer if it isn't watered. Dogs do their business in it, trash gets caught in it and overall it isn't very successful.

I'm still on the fence about removing ours since we do have a little patch of green (just enough for a vine to grow up the front of the house) on either side of the garage. We don't use our concrete for parking as our garage is just fine and the cars are safer. The parking is another issue, but is unkempt vegetation better than concrete? Maybe...but maybe not.

Posted by: DCR at August 10, 2011 3:45 PM

I'm more than sympathetic to these concerns - I'd never buy in the are since removing the yards makes it so unrelentingly grim. However, what's going to happen to the area if the law starts being enforced? Public transportation options are grim, and a lot of people need to car commute.

Seems like it'd cause a huge amount of chaos/pain to start cracking down all at once without giving people viable alternative transportation options - especially those who rely on street parking now and would be displaced when their scofflaw neighbors have to use the street too.

Posted by: dch at August 10, 2011 3:51 PM

Finite resources are available in the city to address a seemingly infinite amount of problems. It's all about priorities and I don't think paving over front yards for parking is high on anyone's radar. (Fair enough considering some of the other issues facing the city.)

I can sympathize with your cause and I hope you continue to fight the good fight but I seriously doubt much will change particularly in the current economic climate. If you want to see really blighted neigborhoods take a visit to the south side of Chicago. Actually, if it really bothers you, perhaps a move to another location in the Bay Area is in order?

Posted by: Willow at August 10, 2011 3:53 PM

And trees are not supposed to be cut down either, but Squat and Gobble on 16th Street seems to have been allowed to cut down 3 mature trees (New trees were planted, but it will be years before the canopy will be replaced.), and in Dolores Park 4-5 mature Magnolias were cut down for the new playground, when the play area should have been designed around the existing trees. The ordinances are not enforced. Politicians and administrators talk a good game when their reps are on the line, but quickly recede because they know the attention of the populace has moved onto the next issue.

Posted by: Marten at August 10, 2011 3:54 PM

"during street cleaning and watcing parking enforcement drive by and does NOTHING is truly stunning"

Really? Most people I think would say that's one area where SF is extremely efficient.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at August 10, 2011 3:57 PM

This picture just points out the incredibly ugly look of this neighborhood. Who would want to buy there?

Enforcements and "laws" don't really matter. What matters is that people living there, paving over their yards and parking on the sidewalk, really just don't give a damn about respect.

This is low class, white trash or other colors at their worst. No excuses. Pure trash.

Posted by: Modernqueen at August 10, 2011 4:05 PM

It's disgusting. We live in look-away San Francisco -- it's systemic and institutionalized. It's live and let live gone awry.

DCR -- consider contracting with a landscaper and watch what she can do to transform your concrete. Moles notwithstanding.

Posted by: Invented at August 10, 2011 4:11 PM

you people complaining about your neighbors need to get a life. who cares.

Posted by: * at August 10, 2011 4:16 PM

Most of SF is ugly, substandard, tenement housing that has not yet turned into ghetto b/c of the culture of the inhabitants (Sunset is prime example but also most of the Richmond and large swaths of Nob Hill and Noe Valley).

The outrageous prices currently paid paid for housing in the above areas do not change the fact that their fundamental look was meant for working class stiffs.

The "affluent" (meaning actually deserving of that name) parts are part of PacHeights and Presidio Heights and, in some places, Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill.

I never understand whether people who claim that SF is the most beautiful city in America really mean that or are just making a statement about other US cities.

Posted by: hawkridge at August 10, 2011 4:28 PM

@anon.ed ... if they are in the street parking enforcement obviously tickets them. But the residents in my neighborhood simple come out, drive the car onto the sidewalk between 12-1, parking enforcement zips buy without ticketing them, and once the street cleaners have come through they park back in the street.

While I sympathize with the pain in the ass it can be to drive around looking for a spot every week to accomadate the street cleaning schedule the damage several tons of glass and steel do to the sidewalks is pretty substantial.

If the city enforced it's own rules, doled out the appropriate fines, and made residents pay them they would find they have much more money in the long run.

Remember when we cut back on street cleaning to save money only to see the drop in parking ticket revenue more than offset any 'savings' from the reduced cleaning?

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at August 10, 2011 4:30 PM

straight up trash y'all

Posted by: anon$random at August 10, 2011 4:35 PM

It's actually a disability/access issue.

Probably better to call your Supervisor and team up with ADA advocates than bang your head against the wall with planning.

http://www.sfbos.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=20032

Its a pretty hefty parking ticket, but DPT will only tag upon complaint. If enough people call every time they see it, SF budget could be balanaced.

Posted by: get real at August 10, 2011 4:36 PM

I suppose the new owners of that last green lawn would say "why should we be forced to maintain a lawn when everyone else has already paved theirs over?" And they'd have a point.

On the other hand, to say that transit is poor is a bit of an exaggeration. Granted it's not ideal for everyone, but there are multiple bus lines near all the addresses, and even BART is only a twenty minute walk, and a much shorter bike ride. I think it's more accurate to say that it's a very auto-friendly part of town, and the result is that people jump onto the freeway to go shopping and the local commercial areas are somewhat grim.

Ultimately if the city started enforcing the law, people would adapt easily enough (maybe even clean up their garages!). More foot/transit traffic would result in business picking up locally, and you'd get a virtuous cycle. Just needs some political will. Get a neighborhood association together to put pressure on the supervisor.

Posted by: Alai at August 10, 2011 4:41 PM

According to the conversations I've had with Parking Enforcement - they operate *strictly* by complaint only.

When I moved to Ashbury Heights and noticed every single one of my neighbors blocking the sidewalk with their overnight parked cars I would call them in and they would only ticket the address called in. DPT wouldn't even canvas the block and ticket them all, which I thought they had to do. I asked why and the person on the other end said "you have to complain about each address."

I only complained about the ones on my way home each night and after about 6 months the number of cars parking illegal was way way down.

More money for MUNI was my attitude.

Posted by: Eric in SF at August 10, 2011 4:51 PM

Guest Poster wrote:

> My questions are these: are we simply we
> wasting taxpayer dollars on making ordinances
> and printing colorful brochures about sidewalk
> greening, since we don't actually take them
> seriously and enforce them? Or will these laws
> be ever enforced to prevent further blighting
> of the City's neighborhoods?

Only a small percentage of the world parks cars in a garage and most people want to fill the garage with people or junk and park cars outside. When you have a lot of people in the house, you have a lot of cars outside. Be careful before you complain since in SF (and other places) city workers hate dealing with people complaining about problems that they don't care about and often let the people you are complaining about know who is complaining (so they can throw rocks at your windows and key your cars if they are ever left out). Your best bet is to save up and move to a neighborhood where people don't park on the lawn and the sidewalk...

Posted by: FormerAptBroker at August 10, 2011 5:03 PM

Outer sunset and Excelsior are basically ghetto neighborhoods, unfortunately. It's too bad the city does not care.

Posted by: Snark17 at August 10, 2011 5:04 PM

Yeah I'm sure you all are sooo concern about disability access. Its just the most convincing argument you can come up with. Again, this is a SF thing where its not about the actual issue but about you being able to tell another person how they are suppose to live their lives. Next you will be unhappy with the paint color they selected for their house. Or that they don't have enough dogs and too many kids in there. SF please stop whining about every bloody little thing.

Posted by: none at August 10, 2011 5:09 PM

I'm the author of the letter. Let me address a few of the comments I have seen so far:

DCR: "Our neighbor decided to remove his and plant grass which initially looked great, but now looks pretty bad. ... I'm still on the fence about removing ours since we do have a little patch of green (just enough for a vine to grow up the front of the house) on either side of the garage. "

We too removed concrete from our front yard. It needs some maintenance, but it's not bad in my opinion. I know that years ago all these houses had front lawns, and neighborhood kids would walk around with push mowers, offering to maintain peoples' lawns for free.

dch: "I'd never buy in the are since removing the yards makes it so unrelentingly grim. However, what's going to happen to the area if the law starts being enforced? Public transportation options are grim, and a lot of people need to car commute."

This is actually incorrect, our district is richly served by public transit, which is why we decided on this area as opposed to the other only affordable one: Outer Sunset. Not only is Balboa Park a main Muni hub, it is also the second busiest BART station in the system.

Willow: "Finite resources are available in the city to address a seemingly infinite amount of problems. It's all about priorities and I don't think paving over front yards for parking is high on anyone's radar. (Fair enough considering some of the other issues facing the city.)"

This is a fair point, but obviously we have *some* resources, since we create ordinances, print brochures, fund a planning department, and if there's a complaint, it *is* investigated. Issuing a fix-it order would not have been more expensive than abating.

Modernqueen: "This is low class, white trash or other colors at their worst. No excuses. Pure trash."

Thanks a lot :) Though it's not true -- I used to think it's the majority, but now I think it's actually a minority of the people who lack basic respect. Believe it or not this is actually a pretty affluent area according to statistics. The average household income is comparable to most other areas of the city. There are poor people too, for sure. I actually don't mind the mix.

Alai: "I suppose the new owners of that last green lawn would say "why should we be forced to maintain a lawn when everyone else has already paved theirs over?" And they'd have a point"

Actually, by the looks of it and the permits taken out for the house, this is a contractor flipping the house. This still happens a lot around here. Buy a house, gut it, build (more) bedrooms downstairs, create parking spots on the sidewalk, and sell.

Eric In SF: "According to the conversations I've had with Parking Enforcement - they operate *strictly* by complaint only."

This is completely my experience too. They definitely do NOT cite on sight.

In general let me add that as I mentioned above, this area was the best compromise we could afford, given that we wanted to buy and buy in the city. We don't regret buying and our life is not bad - we love our house, the backyard, the closeness to transit and downtown, etc. We really try to be as "car-light" as possible, so other areas in the Bay Area would not be as attractive (besides I love SF). May be more leafy, but also would mean to drive daily.

What I have a hard time with is the city investigating, and abating cases like this one, and also the sidewalk parking issue.

Posted by: Original Poster at August 10, 2011 5:22 PM

To be fair the house pictured above has:
2 cars parked on the front yard
Driveway peeling
Dirty house
Garbage cans in plain sight

Even if the 2 cars were removed, that kind of neighbor can still find ways to reduce the value of the neighborhood.

By the way, a front yard covered with grass does not mean that a car cannot park there. You probably shouldn't but still theoretically can.

Posted by: Anon at August 10, 2011 5:24 PM

Code enforcement changes like this always take a while to happen even when times are not so lean. There is a real issue here that housing people and their cars is difficult and putting vehicles somewhere else is likely to cost money and squeeze people who don't necessarily keep large margins for beautification. To a large degree this is a cultural thing, and the new drought tolerant gardens that are starting to catch on will do a lot better than lawns.

Posted by: Mole Man at August 10, 2011 5:48 PM

do as EricinSF did and the problem will go away quickly. as to the few here who say it's none of your business how ugly your neighbor makes his place.... they are also breaking the law. besides it isn't just handicapped, it is parents with strollers. parking like this is rude and it is a shame the City doesn't enforce it like parking meters. 1 second late and you get a ticket - how can they park here all year long and get nothing?

Posted by: hangemhi at August 10, 2011 6:32 PM

It's funny, in Mission Local people are complaining about the opposite problem: that DPT is being too aggressive in enforcing the law. I agree with the OP though: why should car drivers be allowed to store their personal property on the sidewalk?

Contact SF Walk, they are good about getting things like this enforced. Join if you are not already a member. Have you tried writing your BoS rep, John Avalos? I don't know if he would care or not, but the BoS is pretty good about getting people like DPT to do their job.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 10, 2011 6:43 PM

I like that this comment refers to Valencia as being one of the beautiful streets! Still hard for me to wrap my mind around it.

There was a time when people moved to the Excelsior or Sunset to get a nice little house and to get away from Valencia.

Times have totally changed. The real issue is because of the way we do planning in the US the market can't respond to the clear demand.

The street my father grew up on was single family homes of Irish and Italian American working class families in Mission Terrace. Many were headed by men returning from WWII who had no interest in living in flats in the Mission anymore.

Same street now is full of immigrants and the housing stock had been illegally turned into mutli-family housing to the extent possible. Every adult owns a car.

This is a regional issue but we have way too many SFH and too little accessible mutli-family housing in SF and the inner burbs

Pretty clear.

Posted by: Zig at August 10, 2011 7:11 PM

You need to fine tune your complaints. Call the building inspection dept and challenge the permit they issued. The contractor may have a cozy relationship with inspector. Quote the code section if you can in the complaint. This is clearly against the new codes on permeable front yard space.

Posted by: Anon at August 10, 2011 7:16 PM

Were there ever more trees in this neighborhood than the few that exist today?

Posted by: Morgan at August 10, 2011 7:17 PM

This is #9,000 on the list of what's wrong with San Francisco. Seriously, it's not a beautiful part of town, and the ticky tacky houses represent that (sorry for being harsh, but it's true). Planting a garden in front is putting lipstick on a pig. It's too bad the entire area I call "Lil' Bakersfield" could not be demolished and something of quality and worth the carbon emissions built in its place.

Posted by: sf at August 10, 2011 8:35 PM

As long as the city allows many adults to reside in the typical SF home, the owner will see it as an opportunity to build in-law units and rent them out. Most homes built in the Richmond, Sunset, Excelsior, etc were occupied by an adult couple with 2 kids, likely to have 1 car, maybe 2.
Roll forward to the 1980s, the trend has been to build in-law units for income. So in many cases you may have 6 adults living in homes where the downstair parking/storage has been converted to living space. So that single family resident may now need outside parking for 4 or 5 cars. Unless there's political will to enforce and enact the laws to roll back the demographic trends for the last 30 years, it may just be more realistic to move.
Unfortunately, SF homes are designed in such a way which facilitates building in-laws with separate entrances which probably further attracts a certain demographic. In-laws would not normally be practical in a suburban home. If you've seen old pictures of San Francisco streets from the 60s and 70s, you'll notice there were very few cars parked on the streets. This tells you the density has increased significantly in the last 30 years with the resulting cars spilling onto the streets. Also not helping is that new condo contruction in San Francisco allows fewer parking per building than there are actual units. Not to mention 3 Bedroom condos are only given 1 parking space.

Posted by: young_family_in_the _city at August 10, 2011 8:49 PM

@FormerAptBroker:

You said, "Outer sunset and Excelsior are basically ghetto neighborhoods, unfortunately. It's too bad the city does not care."

Well, not only does your use of the word "ghetto" show your ignorance in political correctness but it also shows your ignorance in the Outer Sunset neighborhood. (I can't speak for the Excelsior as I don't frequent the area.) But the Sunset, mostly middle class (not working class) families with mostly owner-occupied homes, has some of the best landscaping and façades, in my opinion. The reason for this is that most of the Sunset isn't rented out to tenants that don't care. It's mostly family-owned homes who take pride in their property. The bleak parts you are probably referring to are the houses along the 19th Avenue corridor.

Although there is a problem of paving over lawns around Irving St. from 19-25th avenues, the rest of the Sunset is pretty well maintained. To describe the Sunset as "ghetto" is truly a misguided pre-conceived notion. As I look out my window right now, I would say that about 95% of my block has some sort of greenery on their property.

Posted by: ryrycalguy at August 10, 2011 11:13 PM

ryrycalguy wrote:

> @FormerAptBroker: You said, "Outer sunset and
> Excelsior are basically ghetto neighborhoods...

I didn't say that, it was "Posted by: Snark17". Socket site posts the name of the poster at the bottom of the post not the top.

Posted by: FormerAptBroker at August 11, 2011 7:32 AM

My parents reside in sunset and I see this sort of thing all the time whenever I visit. Their next door neighbor bought his place at near peak. In order to cover the mortgage he coverted the entire basement level and garage into two seperate rental units. Everyone in that house drives, their cars are all over the front of that house.

Posted by: brandno at August 11, 2011 8:26 AM

Posted by: ts364 at August 11, 2011 9:47 AM

That's hardly the same thing, ts364:
Green space at the front of a property doesn't necessarily mean "lawn". It means open space with landscaping, natural vegetation, free of vehicles.

All of the above comments make this issue sound deep and complex, attached with social problems and financial issues.
To me it's much simpler: stop being greedy, stop being selfish, respect your neighborhood.

Posted by: Modernqueen at August 11, 2011 9:54 AM

It's good to know they operate on complaint only, that explains me getting a ticket at 8pm on a Sunday in Castro for parking in-between two driveways (but not blocking either one). There is always a car there that I suspect is one of the owners of the two homes, so I'll be sure to call it in every time I see it.

Posted by: Michael at August 11, 2011 10:08 AM

Outer Sunset is not ghetto like in Bayview, etc.
But it does have plenty of grunge including gothic, surfers, rednecks, even a few skinheads.
Also, many folks don't know this, but there's a public housing project at Great Highway and Rivera. If you want action, just go hang out down there with the homies. You can probably get whatever drugs suites your fancy. With that said, I'll take Sunset Ghetto over Baview Ghetto any day.

Posted by: young_family_in_the _city at August 11, 2011 10:16 AM

That doesn't work unless the space is red and/or the car is -- arguably -- blocking a driveway. (They will assess that on the spot.) If it is indeed blocking the driveway, they will ask you your name in order to correlate it to the property in question. But don't worry. You can use any number of online services to look up the name of the person who owns the property. Just do that, lie, say you're so and so, and have the car ticketed. It'll be a wonderful use of a non-invasive service, and problem solved. It's a good thing such services are readily available to San Franciscans. They're all really responsible when it comes to thinking about their fellow man, and not at all typified by a behavior that's somewhat self centered. Just witness the wonderful courtesy that spontaneously breaks out at any 4-way stop, anywhere, at any time in the City. Or tune into a Planning Commission hearing on public access. Why, it's The Golden Rule, all the time!

Posted by: [anon.ed] at August 11, 2011 10:21 AM

This has been one of my peeves about SF for some time... just how much concrete is everywhere.

few trees, almost no lawns. Usually, I get the tired diatribe about how SF is dense and that's why it's like that... but other dense areas have found a way to have greenery outside (like Manhattan and Chicago as example).

I echo ts364's comment... one solution would be to have parkable grass...
such as
http://www.invisiblestructures.com/grasspave2_grass_driveways.html

lastly: taking care of a lawn is not that hard. Billions of people do it. if you don't have the time, simply put in a sprinkler system. it'd cost like $1,000 or something for such a small space. you can get a push mower for $100, and it would take like 10 minutes every 2-3 weeks. if that is super agonizing for you simply hire a landscaper.

obviously, there is no reason that a car should ever be allowed to park on the sidewalk. If the lawn isn't deep enough, then they should park parallel on the front lawn or knock down the front part of their house to make room!

Posted by: ex SF-er at August 11, 2011 10:27 AM

“Seriously, it's not a beautiful part of town, and the ticky tacky houses represent that (sorry for being harsh, but it's true). Planting a garden in front is putting lipstick on a pig. It's too bad the entire area I call "Lil' Bakersfield" could not be demolished and something of quality and worth the carbon emissions built in its place.”

Sf: Get a grip. Honestly, the houses themselves are no different from the Marina. (Look at the actual picture with this post.) It’s just that often they are poorly maintained or modified in some way to make them visually unappealing.

Original Poster: Do you want to continue to battle against neighbors who don’t have the same sense of pride in community than you do? These type of behaviors generally take a long time to change, if at all. It may be easier for you and your family to simply leave. A big expense no doubt, but if you are able to do it, you should seriously consider moving on.

Posted by: Willow at August 11, 2011 10:28 AM

"Sf: Get a grip. Honestly, the houses themselves are no different from the Marina. (Look at the actual picture with this post.)"

Agreed. "Marina-style" home is just a fancy name for a Doelger that is possibly slightly bigger and is yuppified.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 11, 2011 11:18 AM

re: "On the other hand, to say that transit is poor is a bit of an exaggeration. Granted it's not ideal for everyone, but there are multiple bus lines near all the addresses, and even BART is only a twenty minute walk, and a much shorter bike ride."

Sorry, public transit IS poor.

Most people forget that for public transit to work, it must connect AT BOTH ENDS. It does not matter if there is a bus/bart stop directly in front of my home, if on the other end there is no way to get to the worksite.

I think SF planners forget that fact when they plan new developments/condos/apts... etc with

Many of my neighbors park on sidewalks etc. Very "ugly". When my neighborhood was built, a single unit had a single car and a single out-of-immediate-area worksite for the residents of that unit. Now, each unit has multiple out-of-immediate-area jobs for the many residents of each unit.

These are my neighbors. I wish the street was not so ugly with all of their cars. But the neighborly thing is to prefer that they work so that they can eat.

And PLAN for what is, and what is expected.

Want more green? I know I do.

Lets plan a way to reduce cars. Public transit that connects on both ends? Public parking for the time that we cannot provide public transit? Any other suggestions?

Complaining about our neighbors to our authorities for something that absolutely cannot be helped is not a good solution.

Posted by: honu turtle at August 11, 2011 11:59 AM

" They're all really responsible when it comes to thinking about their fellow man, and not at all typified by a behavior that's somewhat self centered."

I love the sarcasm. :) I don't block driveways - I even fought the ticket by sending in photos of my car with computer-aided drawings showing lines from my bumpers to the driveway, but they still enforced it.

It's just people who think they own the street in front of their house that piss me off. Is it really necessary to call in a ticket for me parking there for two hours? No.

I only do unto others as they do unto me.

Posted by: Michael at August 11, 2011 12:20 PM

Yes it is Michael.

Obey the laws or work to change them.

Posted by: Modernqueen at August 11, 2011 1:29 PM

How about a solution similar to other requirements when you sell a house? It would be unfair to suddenly enforce green space outside houses in the Sunset or other areas where there is a street setback, but often times things like low flow toilets, smoke detectors (and now CO detectors) and duct insulation is required when a house is sold. Maybe add this to the list of items that must be made to comply only when selling? Just a thought.

As for the parking, isn't it technically not a sidewalk if it is on your property? In the image above what looks like a sidewalk is the owner's property although they cannot build on it due to the setback req's. If you overhang the actual sidewalk then that's clearly not acceptable, but I'm not sure you can enforce not parking on your own property unless there's a specific SF violation to be cited.

Starting to consider ripping up mine now....

Posted by: DCR at August 11, 2011 1:40 PM

There is a section in the Planning Code that specifically outlines that "...No vehicle, including boats, trailers and Rv's shall be parked in the front yard open space setback..."

Yes, you own that open space, but parking in that space is not allowed.

Posted by: Modernqueen at August 11, 2011 1:45 PM

The corner house in the photo is especially egregious. Yes the front lawn was paved over, there is an in-law unit in the garage, and a room addition in the backyard with a gate for a car. I also didn't see any permits for this house and the garage door is no longer there but an actual door leading into the lower unit.

There should be more building and parking enforcement. I do notice SFMTA are ticketing vehicles parked on sidewalks and in driveways.

Posted by: uponahill at August 11, 2011 3:55 PM

@badlydrawnbear: Actually, under City regulations it is legal to park on the sidewalk during street cleaning hours. So it is not surprising that DPT zips by those cars. Whether this accommodation is appropriate is an open question (I am OK with it), but it is certainly legal.

Posted by: NoeNeighbor at August 12, 2011 6:28 PM

Why has the street signs and license plates been blanked out in the photo? If we have to talk about the white trash neighborhood, let's do so openly.

Posted by: Carlitos Way at August 13, 2011 12:45 AM

Are you serious NoeNeighbor? What is the ordinance that states that?

I know that it is custom to not enforce the laws against parking on the sidewalk during street sweeping hours, but just like the Church parkers who double park on Dolores and Guerrero on Sunday's, it is just tolerated, not officially sanctioned, I believe.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 13, 2011 10:09 AM

Really folks -- if you buy a place on a street that looks like that, what do you expect?

And, sorry, but the original poster immediately lost all credibility by saying Valencia street is beautiful. Really? Where on Valencia street is beautiful? Let me know so I can drive by (with my doors locked) and take a look.

And, also City Hall? You mean if you only look above sidewalk level and ignore the homeless people that surround the actual building?

Get a life and stop complaining about what your neighbors are doing!! If you don't like living close to other people, then don't choose to live in SF.

For the same price I'm sure you could buy 20 private acres outside the city and a double wide trailer. ;-)

Posted by: sf resident at August 14, 2011 3:27 PM

Valencia street from 16th to 19th is much nicer looking than it ever was before, yes. Here's to hoping that CC is next. Good idea on keeping you car locked while driving and all. I mean, why have your doors open while driving anyway?

Posted by: [anon.ed[ at August 14, 2011 3:40 PM

Tons of new improvements on Valencia between about 16-20th...new trees, sidewalk improvements, bike racks, tons of new restos and cafes; lots of people out. Get out of your damn car sf resident and walk it and see what we mean.

btw: it is not legal to park on the sidewalk during street cleaning. it's not even tolerated. I have had cars ticketed because of their selfishness. sidewalks are for walking not cars.

Posted by: Modernqueen at August 14, 2011 5:23 PM

I lived in the sunset and the reason behind all the paving of the lawns is that the owners are too cheap and lazy to care for it.

Second, many of the homes have illegal units for rent and hence multiple cars with no place to park. I grew up when most people had one car in the sunset and parked it in the garage. Now every house has an illegal unit and multigenerational families living in it with 10 people in the household. The cars will end up parked in front of the house.

The city will not inspect the rental units either even if they are substandard and unsafe.

Posted by: Johnrm at August 15, 2011 12:51 PM

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