You knew this happened in California, and San Francisco no less. The city has averted a crime. A couple has received a $1,542 fine for parking their car in their driveway. It’s the same driveway (though not the same car) that they have used for 36 years. The couple owns both the property and the car. But they’re being cited nonetheless, for parking their running and driving daily-driver in their driveway.
The city will also charge additional fines to the Craines
And there’s more. If they persist in parking in their driveway, they risk an additional $250-per-day fee every day they do it. “To all of a sudden to be told you can’t use something that we could use for years, it’s startling,” Ed Craine told KGO-TV. The Craines received the notice from the city by mail last week, as did two other neighbors.
The city says that a city code has been in effect for decades to “preserve neighborhood aesthetics.” It makes it a crime to park multiple cars in residential yards. An anonymous complaint to the city is what triggered the legal action.
The San Francisco code has been in the books for decades
“I recognize that the property owner is frustrated,” said San Francisco planning chief Dan Sider. “I think I would feel the same way in their situation. But the Planning Code doesn’t allow for the City to grandfather illegal uses on account of their having flown below the radar for a length of time.”
To try and show a precedent, the Craines showed the city an aerial photo in the 1930s of their house with a car, or horse and buggy, parked in the driveway. The city told them it was too blurry to see what was there. So they brought the city a 34-year-old photo of their daughter in front of the house with a car parked in the driveway. But the city says that the photo is too recent.
“Why are you taking away something that has great utility, not just for us, but for our neighbors in terms of more parking spaces?” Ed Craine asked. The planning department mulled the question around for a while and came up with a plan. It was waiving the fines, for now.
The crime of parking in your driveway
But the Craines still won’t get to park in the driveway, at least for now. If they choose to build a garage, or at least built a cover over the driveway, then the city will allow them to park there again. By doing this they will be in compliance with the city codes.
But it raises a question. San Francisco is notorious for its homeless problem. In turn, there has been an uptick in vandalism to cars parked on city streets. Some car owners even roll down their windows and open the trunks to signal there is nothing of value for anyone to take. Yet, the city sees a daily-driver car parked in the owner’s driveway as an eyesore. Not to compound the homeless’s plight, but we feel like we’re missing something here?