A car is a liability if you live in the centre of San Francisco. It can turn perfectly law abiding citizens into fugitives from the law. The problem is parking. There is not much of it and what there is is highly regulated. I think I am starting to learn the tricks of SF parking but am aware of the fact that I am just a beginner. I feel like a fox. There are signs and spoor that you have to pay attention to if you are going to avoid being killed. You have to be ever vigilant, sniffing the air and ready to bolt if things get risky.
First sign is street cleaning. Once a week the side of the street is cleaned and your car cannot be there or else you are so busted. Watch out, the street cleaning days and times are usually not the same on both sides of the street or even for the whole length of the street. Be vigilant or the bear will get you.
Next danger is the resident’s permit. You can get one and it allows you to park for more than 2 hours on the streets in your neighborhood. I don’t have mine yet and so I am vulnerable.
Small spaces are the next danger. Some of the houses have garages that open onto the street and these rightly must not be blocked. However there are frequently spaces between garages that seem long enough to get your Range Rover safely into. Do not rest easy as the inhabitants of the houses are mean and immediately call the cops if your bumper intrudes into their territory and the bear gets you again. Maybe a fine $90 or worse you are towed $400!
A good fox gets to know his territory and watches for patterns of parking space behaviour. My favourite territory is along Oak and Fell. There is no resident permit restriction and there is no better feeling than finding a space on Tuesday morning when the street cleaning was on Monday. You can leave the car for a whole week if necessary. You are safe.
One thing to remember is that you are not the only urban fox. After a while you recognize behaviour in others and gain respect. There is one guy with a yellow Malibu who is brilliant. He darts from perfect spot to perfect spot avoid street cleaning , exploiting every window of opportunity. You never see him but he is watching.
Parking makes you a city animal. Scared, vigilant and constantly seeking patterns that might lead you to safety.