I recently received a parking ticket for not having my wheels curbed on a >3% grade (which is, apparently, the threshold in SF). My block, to an untrained eye, appears almost flat- in fact it’d have NEVER occurred to me to curb my wheels when parking there prior to getting the citation. A cursory glance down the street would indicate only about 1/3 of the cars parked there have their wheels curbed (most of whom, I assume, have previously received tickets like I did). My question is this- how does the DPT expect drivers to know whether the block they are parked on requires one’s wheels to be curbed, aside from carrying around a level in the glove box? In fact, I put my car in neutral and released the parking brake, and the car didn’t even roll! There are no signs on my block saying wheels need to be curbed. I realize the “easy” answer is just “always curb your wheels”- but that’s not the law.

The first DPT spokesperson I asked told me that is the law: she said that you’re supposed to curb your wheels at all times or you can get a ticket, regardless of whether you’re parked on an incline or not. According to her, the DPT is “supposed” to cite any car that doesn’t have its wheels curbed (her justification: if another car hits your parked car and your wheels aren’t curbed, your car could move and cause damage to other cars/people/objects/etc). Since the DPT (presumably) has better things to do than check up on the wheels of every car in SF, they give people a break unless there’s definitely a 3% grade.

UPDATE: I called the DPT back and asked them about SEC. 7.2.35. The spokesperson I asked (#77) told me that the previous woman I had spoken with was incorrect; they will only cite you if you’re parked on a 3% grade. She recommended rolling a “small round object, like a orange or a water bottle” down the street in order to tell whether there’s a grade; if it rolls, then you should curb your wheels. She also told me that if you receive such a ticket and believe you were parked on a less than 3% grade, you might try contesting your ticket.

My advice is to curb your wheels at all times, because, honestly, life is too short to go around rolling oranges down the hills of San Francisco OR contesting parking tickets (trust me on this one).

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  • Katie Baker

    FUNNILY ENOUGH, I just found out after posting this column that I not-so-recently received a ticket for failing to curb my wheels, which someone took off of my car so now I have to pay that ticket plus a late fee. Is it unprofessional to rant in your own column’s comments? I hope not.

  • Katie Baker

    FUNNILY ENOUGH, I just found out after posting this column that I not-so-recently received a ticket for failing to curb my wheels, which someone took off of my car so now I have to pay that ticket plus a late fee. Is it unprofessional to rant in your own column’s comments? I hope not.

  • KJM

    Actually the law does specifically state that wheels need to be curbed when the grade is >3%, not at all times:

    SEC. 7.2.35. PARKING ON GRADES.

    To Park a vehicle upon any grade or slope exceeding three percent without effectively setting the brakes and blocking the wheels of the vehicle by turning them against the curb or by other means. For the purpose of the issuance of a notice of violation of this Section, proof that an unattended vehicle Parked on a grade exceeding three percent was involved in a collision shall establish a presumption that such unattended vehicle was Parked in violation of this Section. (58(a))

    (Amended by Ord. 287-08, File No. 081340, App. 12/5/2008)

    http://www.municode.com/content/4201/14143/HTML/ach007.html

  • KJM

    Actually the law does specifically state that wheels need to be curbed when the grade is >3%, not at all times:

    SEC. 7.2.35. PARKING ON GRADES.

    To Park a vehicle upon any grade or slope exceeding three percent without effectively setting the brakes and blocking the wheels of the vehicle by turning them against the curb or by other means. For the purpose of the issuance of a notice of violation of this Section, proof that an unattended vehicle Parked on a grade exceeding three percent was involved in a collision shall establish a presumption that such unattended vehicle was Parked in violation of this Section. (58(a))

    (Amended by Ord. 287-08, File No. 081340, App. 12/5/2008)

    http://www.municode.com/content/4201/14143/HTML/ach007.html

  • Katie Baker

    I’ll call the DPT back today and ask them about that.

  • Katie Baker

    I’ll call the DPT back today and ask them about that.

  • aidaan

    I received a ticket for not having my wheels curbed on a street I was sure was less than a 3% grade. So I challenged it. DPT’s response was “this street has more than a 3% grade” but provided no evidence. I asked if there was a map that showed everywhere there was more than a 3% grade, so I could know exactly where to curb my wheels. I never got a response.

    My guess is DPT just issues these tickets whenever they feel like, 3% grade or not.

  • aidaan

    I received a ticket for not having my wheels curbed on a street I was sure was less than a 3% grade. So I challenged it. DPT’s response was “this street has more than a 3% grade” but provided no evidence. I asked if there was a map that showed everywhere there was more than a 3% grade, so I could know exactly where to curb my wheels. I never got a response.

    My guess is DPT just issues these tickets whenever they feel like, 3% grade or not.

  • Greg Dewar

    This may seem annoying, but trust me, it’s necessary. I know of more than one person who failed to curb their wheels, only to return to their car and find it had rolled down a hill, even ones that don’t ‘seem’ steep enough.

    it’s esp. necessary in places where we have to park cars so close to each other inevitably there’s gonna be some pushing and shoving of bumpers. I once saw a pretty bizarre case in nob hill where apparently one car had tapped another (sans curbed wheels) and the car rolled wayyyyyyy down the street, fortunately not hitting any people, but ending up hitting a stop sign (!).

  • Greg Dewar

    This may seem annoying, but trust me, it’s necessary. I know of more than one person who failed to curb their wheels, only to return to their car and find it had rolled down a hill, even ones that don’t ‘seem’ steep enough.

    it’s esp. necessary in places where we have to park cars so close to each other inevitably there’s gonna be some pushing and shoving of bumpers. I once saw a pretty bizarre case in nob hill where apparently one car had tapped another (sans curbed wheels) and the car rolled wayyyyyyy down the street, fortunately not hitting any people, but ending up hitting a stop sign (!).

  • kl2real

    It’s also covered on page 50 of the CA Drivers Manual (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl600.pdf) without any mention of the grade that equals a hill. This bicycle and walking map of San Francisco (http://bit.ly/5Ra80z) shows streets with greater than 5% grade in pink to red. It would stand to reason that many of the non-pink streets would range between 3-5% grade as well. Safest bet is to just curb your wheels whenever you park the car. It’s a hilly city, so probably many streets that meet the 3% threshold will seem flat by comparison.

  • kl2real

    It’s also covered on page 50 of the CA Drivers Manual (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl600.pdf) without any mention of the grade that equals a hill. This bicycle and walking map of San Francisco (http://bit.ly/5Ra80z) shows streets with greater than 5% grade in pink to red. It would stand to reason that many of the non-pink streets would range between 3-5% grade as well. Safest bet is to just curb your wheels whenever you park the car. It’s a hilly city, so probably many streets that meet the 3% threshold will seem flat by comparison.

  • cedichou

    I’ve seen a car with the wheel not turned, and the sfdpt officer had chalked all around it to make it clear, and the ticket said “picture on file.” Contesting citations work, though.

  • cedichou

    I’ve seen a car with the wheel not turned, and the sfdpt officer had chalked all around it to make it clear, and the ticket said “picture on file.” Contesting citations work, though.

  • sfboogie

    I always curb my wheels no matter what. No sense in taking a chance. I even curb my wheels in other cities/states out of habit. It’s not like it’s an inconvenience.

    However, I’m curious if I can be ticketed for being too close to the curb and therefore the wheels do not turn into the curb. I still turn the wheel as much as possible, but not sure if it would still work or if it would prevent me from getting a ticket.

    Ether way I have never received such a ticket and I’ve been driving in SF for more than 10 years.

  • sfboogie

    I always curb my wheels no matter what. No sense in taking a chance. I even curb my wheels in other cities/states out of habit. It’s not like it’s an inconvenience.

    However, I’m curious if I can be ticketed for being too close to the curb and therefore the wheels do not turn into the curb. I still turn the wheel as much as possible, but not sure if it would still work or if it would prevent me from getting a ticket.

    Ether way I have never received such a ticket and I’ve been driving in SF for more than 10 years.

  • LibertyHiller

    If I remember correctly, the old rule of thumb used to involve whether or not a pencil could roll downhill.

    I once found grade maps from the city engineer’s files online, but SFGov.org is giving me no clue as to where they might be.

  • LibertyHiller

    If I remember correctly, the old rule of thumb used to involve whether or not a pencil could roll downhill.

    I once found grade maps from the city engineer’s files online, but SFGov.org is giving me no clue as to where they might be.

  • electricbroom

    I recently vacationed in wonderful SF and got 2 parking tickets.

    1. I got a ticket because I curbed my wheels in the wrong direction. I parked uphill against a curb but turned my wheels as if there was no curb. Can I contest this?

    2. On Lombard street one block below the crookedest mile. Parking sign said (in summary) No parking 8pm-6am except resident permit. I parked there from 1pm to 6pm. Did I read it wrong?

  • electricbroom

    I recently vacationed in wonderful SF and got 2 parking tickets.

    1. I got a ticket because I curbed my wheels in the wrong direction. I parked uphill against a curb but turned my wheels as if there was no curb. Can I contest this?

    2. On Lombard street one block below the crookedest mile. Parking sign said (in summary) No parking 8pm-6am except resident permit. I parked there from 1pm to 6pm. Did I read it wrong?

  • Stephen

    Same problem here. I found an official map of all the street grades/inclines in San Francisco:

    http://bsm.sfdpw.org/subdivision/keymap/

    SF’s very own Department of Public Works has downloadable maps (TIF files) of each city subdivision’s street grades. I just found out that I was ticketed on a street whose grade was 3.00%, and since this doesn’t *exceed* 3%, as required by muni and state law for a ticket to be issued, I’m going to reference the SFDPW map and see if I get my ticket overturned! Hope this map helps other people!

  • Stephen

    Same problem here. I found an official map of all the street grades/inclines in San Francisco:

    http://bsm.sfdpw.org/subdivision/keymap/

    SF’s very own Department of Public Works has downloadable maps (TIF files) of each city subdivision’s street grades. I just found out that I was ticketed on a street whose grade was 3.00%, and since this doesn’t *exceed* 3%, as required by muni and state law for a ticket to be issued, I’m going to reference the SFDPW map and see if I get my ticket overturned! Hope this map helps other people!

  • Stephen

    I got a ticket for parking on a street that I recently found out doesn’t exceed a 3% grade. You can find an official map of street grades by SF Dept of Public Works here: http://bsm.sfdpw.org/subdivision/keymap/. Hopefully this helps others appeal there citations!

  • Stephen

    I got a ticket for parking on a street that I recently found out doesn’t exceed a 3% grade. You can find an official map of street grades by SF Dept of Public Works here: http://bsm.sfdpw.org/subdivision/keymap/. Hopefully this helps others appeal there citations!

  • Brian

    I got a ticket and according to the police department, no signage is required for section 22509. How you are supposed to know if a certain municipality requires it is beyond me!??!

    • CaliBarney

      Ditto. Unfortunately, one of the greatest loopholes in our legal system is the somewhat cliche, “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” If there’s an obscure, outdated, nonsensical law making it illegal to walk on the north side of the street going in a westerly direction, you can be cited and it will likely be upheld.

  • EmilyHG

    The best part is, twin peaks is a gold pot to this damn city for all the tourists parked up there. I wondered why I didn’t see an elephants ass hole (aka the tiny sfmta cars) just waiting there at the top of the hill to hand people their $65 citation. “Oh you’re not from the city, bay area, state, country or continent? You probably don’t know about our local laws and that’s no excuse! Here ya go!”