Is it legal to park in front of an unused garage?

Clearly there’s a disagreement between some folks on Charles St. This note was on the ground just off of Chenery. According to a comment below, it’s not from the pink garage door near the corner, so I’ve removed that photo.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Is it legal to park in front of an unused garage?

  1. When someone parked in front of my garage and I called the city about towing, they asked if the garage was being used for a car and not for storage. A traffic control officer asked me to open the door so he could look inside. I don’t think the homeowner is likely to get someone towed for parking in front of the garage in the picture.

  2. Jeremy

    The note writer is in the wrong. I will find the exact links to the SF traffic code and post them back.

    Passive aggressive parking notes help no one.

    Q: Can I parallel park my own car in the curb cut across my driveway?
    A: It is legal to park parallel across your driveway as long as you are not obstructing the sidewalk per the Traffic Code Section 1004 which states: “The owner or lessee of property shall be permitted to park the owner’s or lessee’s vehicle across the private driveway of said property, provided that such vehicle displays a valid license plate registered to the address of that property with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and provided that such driveway serves no more than two family dwelling units. This Section does not permit the parking of vehicles across sidewalks or in red zones.

    So, the traffic code states that you can park across your driveway. Note that it is not legal to park across a curb cut that is a designated accessibility ramp. Note that not all accessibility ramps are marked as such. For example, ramps at crosswalks are not specifically marked as being accessible.

    The California Vehicle Code Section 22500 states: No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle whether attended or unattended, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a peace officer or official traffic control device, in any of the following places: (e) In front of a public or private driveway, except that a bus engaged as a common carrier, school bus, or a taxicab may stop to load or unload passengers when authorized by local authorities pursuant to an ordinance.”
    SF Codes 1004, 1005 / CA Codes 22507.2
    Q: Can I park in a curb cut where the driveway does not lead to a garage which is used for off-street parking? What if the garage is in use as storage or living space?
    A: It is legal to park across your driveway as long as you are not obstructing the sidewalk per the Traffic Code Section 1004 (See next question). SF Codes 150, 1004, 1005 / CA Codes 22507.2

    http://excelsiorsf.org/About_the_Excelsior/ParkingSummit/summitstuff/faqs.html

  3. Jeremy

    Sorry, the ORIGIONAL note writer is corrent. the snarky response is in the wrong….

  4. Deb

    3645barry is right, when we moved into a condo in SOMA (before we bought our house in GP), someone kept parking in front of our garage as soon as we moved in. When we called for a tow, the control officer asked to see if the garage was for storage or parking. First time we still had boxes in the garage and he would not call for a tow truck. We cleared out the area and called a second time after the same car was parked in front of our garage. The woman worked across the street and knew the rules, she came running out screaming when the tow truck arrived.

    • Anonymous

      I’m the president of a HOA and I’m so stressed because people don’t follow the bylaws. I hate having someone’s car towed but I have no choice when they insist on parking in front of their garages.

  5. Jeremy

    5. Do not block driveways.

    A driveway begins at the curb cut, or the point at which the curb begins to slope downward toward street level. A vehicle parked within curb cuts can be cited and towed. Even partial encroachments into the driveway area can result in a tow.

    Some driveways are marked with short red curb markings that indicate where vehicles should not park. Only red zones painted by the City with a DPT or MTA stencil are enforced. It is illegal for private parties to paint curbs or other markings on the street.
    Residents can block their own driveways only if the building the driveway serves has two or one units and the vehicle’s license plate is registered to the building’s address. All other types of driveway parking can be cited.

    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/penf/indxpkenf.htm#donotblock

    The comments here indicate that they check for active usage, and I have heard that before, but the LETTER of the law says you can be ticketed and towed for blocking any driveway that is not yours.

  6. Dixter

    The city recently towed a car that blocked our driveway because it prevented us from using our parking spot – the driveway. Our house is under renovation and the garage is full of carpenter stuff, but because we could legally park in our driveway and not block the sidewalk the offender’s car was towed away.
    So even if a garage is not being used you can still have a car towed if it’s blocking access to your legal parking area.
    Don’t park in driveways if you don’t enjoy being towed. Simple, really.

  7. Daniel

    Hello GP Citizens,
    I am the tennet of this garage/apartment, and I certainly did not write the note. It appears that you’ve got the wrong driveway in question. I suspect this photo was only taken to prove how cool garage doors used to be, and how much we do not want to renovate it.

    It’s true that the garage is not being used as a car port, however, it is indeed used for construction purposes frequently. If I were to ever leave a note on a car, it would include a drawing of a my face for authenticity. Carry on…

  8. elizabethweise

    I took down the photo of your garage, couldn’t tell this morning if that was the one.
    I wonder where the note is from? Does anyone know?

  9. CRS

    I’ve never had a ticketing officer/tow truck operator check to see if a garage were used for parking or not, although I think that they should and that it is a brilliant idea.

    Once when I had to park curbside, I parked in front of a curb cut, but there was no garage or parking space that it serviced *at all*. In fact, the property owners had extended the living area of their house into the area where the garage should have been. Nonetheless, they had my car ticketed and towed.
    Those property owners should rightfully have been obliged to have eliminated the curb cut, building the sidewalk back up and replacing the curbstone.
    In fighting the ticket, I attempted to have them do this, but not only did they not do so, they got the DPT to paint the curb red!

    Just because there is a curb cut does not mean that it can be reserved as a curbside parking spot for the owner of the property. It has to lead into a garage which has enough clear space to park a car, about 250 sq ft. If the garage space is used for storage, living area – anything other than parking a working auto – then the curb cut should be eliminated.

    (I had a friend who ran for district supervisor, and this was a plank in her campaign platform!) You can’t have you cake and eat it too.

    If someone blocks our driveway, the first time the car gets a note under the wiper advising “This is not a parking space. Please do not park here. Thank you.”
    The second time I call for a ticket, and the third time it gets a ticket and towed.
    (Two working vehicles park in our garage.)

    • Rebecca

      I spoke in detail with the SF police department about this because of some odd characteristics of a place we moved into with a vestigial curb cut. The short of it is that a “driveway” has to be actively utilized for driving. A cut curb is not the same thing as a driveway. A curb cut leading to a converted living area or storage area isn’t the same thing as a driveway. If you don’t have a usable parking space you need to get to, it’s not a driveway, just a curb cut in limbo, and you aren’t protected from having others park there. Lots of occurrences where a curb cut may not equal an actual driveway – they are supposed to check for a usable parking spot before ticketing and towing. If you aren’t blocking access to a viable off-street parking spot, you aren’t blocking a driveway and the regulations don’t apply.

    • Jacob

      I don’t really get this. A “personal parking space” out on the street uses up the same amount of (public) space as a curb cut+garage. Why is one ok and the other isn’t?

      • Rebecca

        Well, the law is intended to protect existing access to your property, not protect your right to monopolize the public space. So the fact that your access point could be the same as your otherwise use of the public realm isn’t the point. But if you think about it, it doesn’t add up to have a driveway/garage that fits only one vehicle. Because you’re right, it’s just effectively turning one public parking spot into one private spot. And how is that worthwhile int he big picture? My understanding is that the City doesn’t generally allow this for new construction but I think it depends on the neighborhood.

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  11. Clearly what we need here is a parklet.

  12. Anonymous

    I just talk to the SF Traffic Office and they said that the traffic enforcers don’t go around ticketing and towing peoples car that are blocking a driveway. Although, someone can call the city and have a car ticketed or towed even if it is your own driveway if you are parked on the street blocking the driveway. The only time it is allowed I suppose it parking it across your driveway given that your driveway is long enough for your car to not obstruct the sidewalk.

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