There’s no question that I’m parking obsessed, I admit it freely. Over five years ago, when my compact station wagon died, I bought a Mazda Miata. A major part of my choice was based on the length of the car. Many friends and business associates thought I had gone round the bend, but five years later it is clear I was a visionary ahead of my time. Fast forward to today where Mini’s, Fiats, and Smart Cars are found on just about every street in San Francisco. Today, parking is on the minds of everyone who owns a car in San Francisco. Parking will definitely be part of the equation if you’re interested in buying a home in San Francisco.
Recently I found the book, Finding the Sweet Spot: The Insider’s Guide to Parking in San Francisco, in my office mailbox. I intended to scan the book, but once I got started I found it to be full of useful information.
THE BAD NEWS:
David LaBau includes some disconcerting facts that cannot be ignored. In San Francisco, there are 280,000 unmetered parking spots, 23,000 metered spots and 450,000 registered vehicles. One can only imagine how many out of city vehicles are looking for parking daily. We can include an unknown amount of residential parking spaces into the mix, but the bottom line is there are more cars than parking spots in San Francisco.
THE GOOD NEWS:
This book covers just about everything imaginable: Parking karma, painted curb and sign interpretation, tips and tricks, meters, garages, parking permits and towing. There’s even a section titled, Where is My Car? If you’ve lived here for long you have experienced all of what the book talks about; maybe you already know it all. I do, for the most part, but it’s still nice to find everything I need to know about parking in one compact reference book—which I store in the glove compartment of my small, lovely Miata.
Finding the Sweet Spot was published in 2009 so there have been changes, but the book is a good reference guide and certainly a starting point for almost all things involving parking.
If you’re not in the mood to read the entire book, here are a couple of my personal parking tips:
1.) When in doubt, call the city’s 3-1-1 information line for all parking and city department questions. The operators are consistently knowledgeable and polite.
2.) Never go anywhere in your car without emergency money, preferably a role of quarters. I was standing in front of the Apple store on Chestnut Street when, to my surprise, a prime parking space became available. I popped in my parking card, but the card was somewhat new and didn’t work. Next, I slipped in my credit card but that didn’t work either. I had heard about calling from the meter to pay for time but had not taken the time to figure out this system, and went back to the stone ages of using quarters. The meter now had a few minutes and I decided to carefully try my cards again, this time reading the directions. I found that the parking card needed to be inserted in the meter with a different side up than the credit card and eventually got both my credit card and parking card to work.
3.) The city has a website complete with phone app to aid in finding parking (truthfully, I haven’t found this to be too useful). I’m always amazed that by the time a person gets into their car, another car is already there waiting for them to pull out and so the space rarely ever becomes empty.
After watching this video, I started considering ideas I had never thought about before. If you use the www.sfpark.org website and find there really is no parking available at your destination, the information can be useful in making a decision to choose a different destination, bike, walk or take public transportation and forget driving a car altogether. Also, I learned how to add money/time to a meter remotely.
I find that nothing will cause me to run screaming from my car, or just to throw a quiet fit on the street, faster than finding a parking spot and not being able to feed the meter. Hopefully my frustration is a thing of the past, or at least diminished. Having completed Finding the Sweet Spot I am now armed with enough information to go out on the city streets and park my car! David turned the irritating subject of finding a parking spot into almost an amusing challenge.
The value of a residential parking spot and whether you should consider buying a home without one is another subject. Please read my blog post, Parking…San Francisco Style to find out more on the subject.