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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  • cv

    The whole point of curbing your wheels is if the parking brake fails, your car will simply roll into the curb which stops its movement. When you park downhill, if the vehicle loses its parking brakes, gravity will pull the car forward; that’s why you turn the wheels to the right.

    Curbing your wheels isn’t an SF-specific regulation; it’s part of the California Vehicle Code. Similar laws are in the books of every state no matter how flat it is. It’s about public safety and liability.

  • cv

    The whole point of curbing your wheels is if the parking brake fails, your car will simply roll into the curb which stops its movement. When you park downhill, if the vehicle loses its parking brakes, gravity will pull the car forward; that’s why you turn the wheels to the right.

    Curbing your wheels isn’t an SF-specific regulation; it’s part of the California Vehicle Code. Similar laws are in the books of every state no matter how flat it is. It’s about public safety and liability.

  • wordygirl

    Not only must you curb your wheels, you must also be less than 18 inches from the curb. So curb your wheels in whatever direction you need to until you HIT the curb, that way you will know that you are not more than 18 inches from it. (I once got a ticket for being more than 18 inches from the curb and facing the wrong direction on the street…I was feeling reckless that day).

  • wordygirl

    Not only must you curb your wheels, you must also be less than 18 inches from the curb. So curb your wheels in whatever direction you need to until you HIT the curb, that way you will know that you are not more than 18 inches from it. (I once got a ticket for being more than 18 inches from the curb and facing the wrong direction on the street…I was feeling reckless that day).

  • Katie Baker

    Oh, definitely. I am not anti-curbing my wheels. I am just anti-parking ticket. Which is why I say curb your wheels at all times!

  • Katie Baker

    Oh, definitely. I am not anti-curbing my wheels. I am just anti-parking ticket. Which is why I say curb your wheels at all times!

  • Eve Batey

    I’m not saying this to your shill, Katie, but I always forget to curb my tires, mainly because I so rarely drive and our car does not have power steering. This makes parallel parking a serious bitch, especially for my weak and atrophied pajamablogger arms.

    Then I remember your column on it and get back in and dislocate both my shoulders curbing. Ask The Appeal is saving me from tickets galore, and SF from a runaway Civic. So thank you!

  • Eve Batey

    I’m not saying this to your shill, Katie, but I always forget to curb my tires, mainly because I so rarely drive and our car does not have power steering. This makes parallel parking a serious bitch, especially for my weak and atrophied pajamablogger arms.

    Then I remember your column on it and get back in and dislocate both my shoulders curbing. Ask The Appeal is saving me from tickets galore, and SF from a runaway Civic. So thank you!

  • Katie Baker

    I’m glad my 200+ penance for failing to curb my wheels has a silver lining

  • Katie Baker

    I’m glad my 200+ penance for failing to curb my wheels has a silver lining

  • Belgand

    Yes, you read it wrong. It’s 8 AM – 6 PM. I could be mistaken, but I believe that all residential parking permit areas are during daytime hours only.

  • Belgand

    Yes, you read it wrong. It’s 8 AM – 6 PM. I could be mistaken, but I believe that all residential parking permit areas are during daytime hours only.

  • cv

    Katie, I feel your pain. You probably could have put those two hundred bucks to better use, however you need to accept it and move on. Ultimately, it was not an exorbitant price to pay for a very serious lesson.

    I don’t think any less of you; I’ve made my share of dumb mistakes and we didn’t end up hurting anyone/anything except our pride (and our wallets). That’s the most important thing.

    I don’t tell my own embarrassing anecdotes for educational purposes, thinking that perhaps one person might learn something from my mistakes. At least in this regard, you are a far more wise and generous person than I am.

    Have a great weekend!

  • cv

    Katie, I feel your pain. You probably could have put those two hundred bucks to better use, however you need to accept it and move on. Ultimately, it was not an exorbitant price to pay for a very serious lesson.

    I don’t think any less of you; I’ve made my share of dumb mistakes and we didn’t end up hurting anyone/anything except our pride (and our wallets). That’s the most important thing.

    I don’t tell my own embarrassing anecdotes for educational purposes, thinking that perhaps one person might learn something from my mistakes. At least in this regard, you are a far more wise and generous person than I am.

    Have a great weekend!

  • g

    “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.”

    This assumes you’re parking on the right side of the street. If you’re on the left, you need to do the exact opposite. Otherwise, you’ll get ticketed.

  • g

    “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.”

    This assumes you’re parking on the right side of the street. If you’re on the left, you need to do the exact opposite. Otherwise, you’ll get ticketed.

  • tom tom

    I’m a longtime resident of San Francisco and I always inform friends and family visiting San Francisco that parking and driving in SF is a lifetime challenge and, if nothing else, tests your ability to drive and park defensively.

    A BIG TIP: If you’ve found a ‘perfect parking spot’ on a weekday in downtown San Francisco, you’re probably not reading the parking signs correctly. Look up, look down, walk a few feet and read similar signs, look for temporary signs and signposts, and ask nearby vendors if there are additional restrictions. Its not worth having your car towed – very expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating. My recommendation: during weekday business hours, use public transportation!

  • tom tom

    I’m a longtime resident of San Francisco and I always inform friends and family visiting San Francisco that parking and driving in SF is a lifetime challenge and, if nothing else, tests your ability to drive and park defensively.

    A BIG TIP: If you’ve found a ‘perfect parking spot’ on a weekday in downtown San Francisco, you’re probably not reading the parking signs correctly. Look up, look down, walk a few feet and read similar signs, look for temporary signs and signposts, and ask nearby vendors if there are additional restrictions. Its not worth having your car towed – very expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating. My recommendation: during weekday business hours, use public transportation!

  • tom tom

    ps. I’ve gotten a ticket for not curbing my wheels on perfectly ‘flat’ and horizontal street. I took a photo of the site where I was parked, appealed the ticket, and I still had to pay the fee. Oh, man!!!

  • tom tom

    ps. I’ve gotten a ticket for not curbing my wheels on perfectly ‘flat’ and horizontal street. I took a photo of the site where I was parked, appealed the ticket, and I still had to pay the fee. Oh, man!!!

  • sfresident

    This is why I strongly suggest to visitors that they not try to park in the Northeast corner of our city. The area is rich with public transit and the parking regulations are byzantine.

  • sfresident

    This is why I strongly suggest to visitors that they not try to park in the Northeast corner of our city. The area is rich with public transit and the parking regulations are byzantine.

  • TK

    Believe it or not, I beat a curbing ticket, but I beat it in a totally shady and underhanded way. It was one of those tickets written by hand (by a cop, I assume), not the computerized DPT thing, and it didn’t have the code section on it. A parking ticket has to have the code section you violated on it. POOF! No more ticket.

    I protest pretty much all my tickets, though, b/c it buys you a free 6 month delay in paying it.

  • TK

    Believe it or not, I beat a curbing ticket, but I beat it in a totally shady and underhanded way. It was one of those tickets written by hand (by a cop, I assume), not the computerized DPT thing, and it didn’t have the code section on it. A parking ticket has to have the code section you violated on it. POOF! No more ticket.

    I protest pretty much all my tickets, though, b/c it buys you a free 6 month delay in paying it.

  • DT

    Right and left are not appropriate suggestions for curbing your wheels. Suggestions made so far refer to two-way streets. One way streets, if you are parking on the left side require opposite action.

    Best to look at cars around you if this is too confusing.

    Does anyone remember the 31 Balboa bus (before they went electric and all the way to the beack) that rolled backwards from between Balboa & Anza on 33rd Avenue into Golden Gate Park? Extremely fortunate that nothing was hit.

    Does anyone remember the tow truck on Second Avenue that lost its brakes on the brick, causing the customer’s car to smash into a tree and the truck to block the N Judah for quite some time?

    Driving is a responsibility, consideration of safety is paramount.

    A non-driver, thanks to the party that ran me over while I was on the sidewalk.

  • DT

    Right and left are not appropriate suggestions for curbing your wheels. Suggestions made so far refer to two-way streets. One way streets, if you are parking on the left side require opposite action.

    Best to look at cars around you if this is too confusing.

    Does anyone remember the 31 Balboa bus (before they went electric and all the way to the beack) that rolled backwards from between Balboa & Anza on 33rd Avenue into Golden Gate Park? Extremely fortunate that nothing was hit.

    Does anyone remember the tow truck on Second Avenue that lost its brakes on the brick, causing the customer’s car to smash into a tree and the truck to block the N Judah for quite some time?

    Driving is a responsibility, consideration of safety is paramount.

    A non-driver, thanks to the party that ran me over while I was on the sidewalk.