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"

Streetsblog San Francisco encourages you to contribute! Submit your pictures for our Eyes on the Street feature, as well as video and links at the following: http://sf.streetsblog.org/contribute/. 

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Photos: Matthew Roth

  • Thanks for the link love! I see the same thing on my (much more residential) block, and I’m quite sure it happens all over town. I call every time I see a car blocking the sidewalk and yet I still see the same offenders every week.

    On a whim I checked out everyblock.com to see the results of my calls and noticed that while some reports were given the status “Result: Citation issued,” my most recent calls got “Result: Assignment handled.”

    According to everyblock, “This can occur when an officer provides a generic call disposition.” Hardly comforting.

    Have you had any better results?

  • Well that sidewalk certainly is a mess. Luckily, my own sidewalk has only had Christmas trees and discarded sofas blocking it lately.

    Great to see that the SF site is finally up and running!

  • Scott

    Ha! 10 minutes after reading this post I saw this on flicr:

    Even the police are flaunting sidewalk law.

  • I must say that i’ve done it a few times on my street. Wake up at 8am to move my car because of the streetsweeper. But where does it go while I wait for it to pass? Do I park 10 blocks away because everyone is looking for a place to put their cars until the sweeper passes or do i park on the sidewalk so i can go back in the house and take a shower before work so that I can go back out and move it back into a place after the sweeper has gone by. A lot of people will plan ahead by parking in a non sweep space days before. But the night before they are all gone.

    It’s an interesting dilemma. Sometimes I’ll just leave my car and get a ticket figuring I’m paying for Muni and the MTA anyways, might as well pony up extra that i feel is deserved and save myself a lot of hassle.

    I’ve thought about this a lot though. There’s a huge shortage of spaces every morning which makes parking more scarce (not a problem per say) but its not a pricing issue because a lot of those people have permits and might likely pay more for them but still have to move their car on streetsweep day. The streets most certainly need cleaning and unlike other places the sweepers on my street actually do help a lot with the leaves.

    Yes I know the issue here is ADA access. But I’m not sure if the street sweep shuffle is going away any time soon.

  • jon


    It will end overnight when the first ADA lawsuit happens.

    –jon w

  • Does anyone have a solution? I must say that I donate on average about $300.00 per year because of this issue. There really aren’t any parking around during street cleaning days. Just like overhead has mentioned, you have to park on the non-street cleaning side a couple of days ahead in order to find a spot. Some of my neighbors have literally like 4-5 cars, with some of them being trucks and I really can’t find a solution. The only thing that is left is to park on the side walk of my house and hope I don’t get a bigger ticket. For a while I thought it was legal to park on the side walk during street cleaning because everyone was doing it.

  • I put together a website that contains the most info I could find about street parking. I hooked it up to the google map for the best browsing experience. I work hard on the updating the database, but please fill free to help me and submit data.

  • Also, there’s a free android app that has access to the same data. You can download it on the market. Check the link

  • james

    Well it has only gotten worse. http://www.google.com/maps

  • Halle

    The only cleaning I need is house cleaning. http://www.cleaning-services.org


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