Eyes on the Street: Cleaning the Curb, Fouling the Sidewalk

Back_to_the_curb1.jpgThe race is on: as soon as the sweeper passed, these drivers jockeyed for their curb spot

On a recent Tuesday morning, at Folsom and 25th streets in The Mission, I watched one of the more bizarre street-cleaning rituals I’ve ever seen in any city. I know San Francisco drivers get a free parking pass in front of numerous churches on Sundays (just check out Valencia Street), but I had never seen car owners squat on the sidewalk for street cleaning.

A local business owner who didn’t want to be identified approached
me as I was taking photos and growled, "One guy owns at least nine of
those vehicles." 

When I explained they would be published on a blog to encourage people to call the abuse into the MTA he
was elated.  "More power to you," he said, "somebody needs to do
something.  They make it very hard to get my deliveries some days."

Moments before snapping these photos an enforcement vehicle drove down Folsom ticketing vehicles that hadn’t cleared out of the street, ignoring the countless violators of California Vehicle Code (CVC) 22500f, which explicitly 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… on a sidewalk, except electric carts when authorized by local ordinance, as specified in Section 21114.5


As I took the pictures, it became clear that several of the people who moved vehicles either had a whole fleet of their own cars or they were moving them for friends and family (or for a fee?).  This guy moved several vehicles:

Parkerman_small.jpgPicture taken from the first vehicle he parked as he exits the second

To my dismay, two of the vehicles near the intersection of Folsom and 25th didn’t even start–their stewards popped the clutch into neutral and heaved them back into place from the sidewalk to the curb!

When I went back five days later to get a pic of the street sign, the box truck and suburban were in almost the identical positions.


Advocates for the disabled and the elderly have campaigns to keep cyclists off sidewalks and raise awareness among motorists for pedestrians in crosswalks, but I can’t imagine they have the resources to spend time watchdogging these bad neighbors.

The good people over at Pedestrianist have recently posted photos of sidewalk parking abuse and from the comments, it has at least made the neighbors feel better, whether or not they have seen any action.  They also have this good advice:

To report sidewalk parking in SF, call DPT at (415) 553-1200
Hit 1 for English (or choose your language)
4 for "more options"
3 for "sidewalk parking"

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Photos: Matthew Roth


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