A car is a miracle. To own one is to be a wizard waving a big sparkly wand.
It’s a magic carpet.
A personal rocket ship.
A veritable transporter. As in, “Beam me over to Whole Foods, Scotty.”
If only you could beam your vehicle to some off-planet parking garage when the spots disappear from the streets of San Francisco just as you’re trying to catch a 7 o’clock movie at The Clay on Fillmore!
In the interest of offering a balanced perspective, it must be mentioned that there are many compelling reasons not to own a car if you live in San Francisco (or in any city, for that matter). But you can list those reasons yourself.
If I didn’t have a job that requires me to whisk myself and clients all over town to see properties at all hours of the day and night, I wouldn’t own a vehicle. But that’s not the case. I am a Realtor and I own a car.
What I don’t have is a place to park it besides on the street. And I live just half a block from Dolores Park, which is one of the worst places for parking in this 7-x-7-mile chunk of paradise.
I am living proof that it’s possible to own a car + not have a garage + live in a parking Bermuda triangle and yet somehow survive. Here are my top parking tips:
- Take half a day off work and go get a residential parking permit. Bring along something to read, as well as a snack.
- Get out of bed and leave home early every day so you can get stuff done, especially if you’ve parked in a construction zone where they begin towing at 7 a.m.
- Return home 30 minutes before parking restrictions end – typically 6 p.m. for most construction zones and many metered streets – and snag a spot before the evening rush.
- If possible, walk, take MUNI or use UBER or taxicabs on weekends and evenings when parking competition is (typically) its most fierce.
- Become intimately acquainted with all the semi-questionable parking spaces within a two-block radius from home. They’ll do in a pinch.
- Memorize all the parking restrictions on the streets near your home. Don’t confuse the Thursday side with the Monday side! And try not to forget that on Wednesday on the west side of Dolores they start towing at 6 a.m.
- Be willing to put your car on the sidewalk for street-cleaning.
- Be philosophical about your banged-up bumper, your dented doors and the occasional break-in. This is easier if you don’t own a fancy car. And since you don’t need a luxury automobile, be sure to buy an extra tiny vehicle.
- Pay a little extra for comprehensive auto insurance with no deductible.
- Never ever EVER leave anything in your vehicle. Even an old sock on the backseat will create a business opportunity for some lucky opportunist. (Sorry, you can’t actually call it a crime.)
- Create good parking karma by avoiding turf brawls with other drivers who are vying for the space that just opened up. (Pull in quickly and act like you didn’t notice them. Don’t expect an Academy Award. Just be grateful if it works.)
- Be willing to stalk pedestrians who are walking slowly down the sidewalk jangling keys.
- Get to know your neighbors and their vehicles and keep track of their comings and goings.
- Keep your gas tank topped off in case you find yourself locked in a holding pattern.
- Always park tight. Don’t be a parking piggy.
Be grateful to the Parking Gods whenever you hear that satisfying key-beep that means you’re home and locked up for the night. And while you’re busy performing your parking-gratitude ritual, be sure to make a mental note of where you left your car.