curb_wheels.jpgI 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?

Few things frustrate me more than trying to park a car in this city (the activity lies somewhere between struggling to open vacuum-sealed plastic packaging and fixing printer paper jams). If you aren’t familiar with San Francisco’s strictly enforced parking rules, it’s even trickier.

1.No, you can not contest this (and, to be honest, I’m a little confused as to why you think you can). As I’ve advised before, ALWAYS curb your wheels when parking in San Francisco! The city doles out curb-your-wheels tickets like free samples at Costco. When in doubt (and you should always be in doubt), curb them.

When I first moved to San Francisco, I would sometimes leave my car parked for a week at a time (only moving it for street cleaning). One morning, I arrived at my car and was greeted by THREE parking tickets, all of which were for not curbing my wheels correctly. Needless to say, I was pissed (understatement), but vowed I would never make the same mistake again as I drove my car to another street – this time facing downhill instead of up – and turned my steering wheel hard counterclockwise.

The next week I walked to my car only to find TWO more tickets waiting for me. FOR NOT CURBING MY WHEELS! I didn’t realize that you had to curb your wheels different ways depending on whether you’re parked uphill or downhill (Which, DUH – I hope I don’t lose Ask the Appeal fans by divulging my idiocy). So, in summary, I got five tickets in the span of two weeks for not curbing my wheels. That is over 200 dollars. This happened over a year ago, and I’m still not over it. I’m getting a little teary-eyed while writing this, actually. I tried to contest the tickets but the Parking Dept. was having none of it. And why should they? If things had gone wrong, my car could have caused damage, injury, or both.

So, CURB YOUR WHEELS! When facing uphill on a street with a curb, turn your wheels to the left. When facing uphill on a street with no curb, turn your wheels to the right. Or, just look at the wheels of the cars around you.

2. I called the Parking Dept. and asked them for parking information around Lombard and Leavenworth Street (the bottom of the hill). As I suspected, it turns out you need a residential permit to park for longer than two hours in that area. You could have also possibly parked there during street cleaning.

When parking in San Francisco, don’t walk away from your car until you’ve analyzed all of the signs within a block radius like an English major close-reading Pynchon. I’m kidding, but kind of not. Again, I speak from experience, but I won’t bore you with the details (I didn’t know it was the second Friday!)

I’m sorry that you’re leaving SF about 100 bucks poorer! Come back – but think about leaving your car at home (also, anyone want to buy mine?).

Any other parking tips for SF newbies or tourists you can think of?

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