Tuesday, January 09, 2007

parking in sf

a few years ago we were driving around san francisco looking for parking. we were on a one way street when we passed a good spot. i hopped out of the car to stand in the spot while the car circled back.

things looked ok, until a woman drove up and said, "you can't do that. i'm taking that spot."

i stood there as she moved in, and the front of her car came within a foot of me. but she stopped, let loose all kinds of verbal abuse, and sped away.

fast-track to 2006: some friends are looking for parking around market and 2nd. a woman sees a spot and stands in it, holding it while the car can get there. a big man in a big truck comes, gets angry, but goes away, and they get the spot. my friends see this same guy (big man big truck) at the event they go to, and they literally duck and cover to avoid his gaze.

and then i read this in a new york times article on parking in san francisco:

Last month, the police announced the arrest of a second suspect in the killing of Boris Albinder, 19, on Sept. 16 near Golden Gate Park as he tried to save a parking space for a friend by standing in it. The authorities say Mr. Albinder was attacked by a group of men in a van who demanded that he cede the space.

parking etiquette

so, the question: was it wrong for me, and others, to hold a space as we did? should parking spaces be only taken by cars, and in that case, first come first served? i actually wonder if it's illegal, what i did. you'd think the law says something about it. but based on some quick searching, i find this comment in a news article which leads me to suggest that the law doesn't have much to say on this point. from a 1996 palo alto online article:

The problem even resulted in fisticuffs. Palo Alto police say they were called to the mall Sunday evening when a shoving match began over a parking space. A woman was standing in a parking spot to save it while her boyfriend drove around. The male driver of another car, however, apparently wanted the spot and began inching into the space. The result was a confrontation that required police assistance. Neither party wanted to press charges, said Palo Alto Police Lt. Jon Hernandez.
of course, i didn't search very much. one argument against such tactics is that it could make parking, already notoriously difficult, practically insane as people come up with all kinds of tricks to hold spots. i think people already have many tricks, but if things got out of hand the law would really need to get involved. this video shows things getting out of hand:

anyway, it seems there might be a ghost truck going around san francisco attacking people who hold spots by standing in them... so i'll be cautious.


Halldor said...

I don't know.... I think if people get a rage fit over a parking space, something is seriously wrong already in their head

omar said...

hehehehe ... it just means they are passionate!

for instance, i think i know some people who are very passionate drivers, and they get very angry when people make mistakes on the road. i can see them getting made at standing-holders.

i think it might be stretching it to say they are seriously wrong in the head... passionate is perhaps better.

though, i agree that the woman who actually hit the other car to move it out of the spot she thought was hers is probably sick in the head.

sick in the head.

James said...

That's why I never drive into the city.

But seriously, I think it's bad etiquette to stand and take up parking spots when your car isn't there. Just like it's bad etiquette to cut in line; or talk when you're at the urinals.

This never happens in Austin, BTW.

omar said...

does it never happen in austin because there's lots of space there? or because people find this rude?

s2truong@uwaterloo.ca said...

Ever been to the Pacific Mall in Toronto (Scarborough)? 'Nuff said.