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Friday, July 10, 2009

Wanna Save Money By Not Registering Your Car? Park In the Sunset at Your Own Peril.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge Comin' to git ya...
  • Comin' to git ya...
Captain Paul Chignell has declared war on clunkers. Are you wit' him or agin' him?

Even though clearing the streets of unregistered vehicles isn't a police department task -- it's the Department of Parking and Traffic's responsibility -- the captain of the Taraval Police Station has aggressively claimed it for his staff. Over the past year, his officers have made the call to tow away hundreds of vehicles that are six months or more overdue on their registration.

"We are not going to stand on ceremony. Just because one agency might be responsible for one particular public service doesn't mean another can't help," explains Chignell. "We want to improve the quality of life."

And yet not every police captain sees things quite this way. If you're in Chignell's neck of the woods, you can call up or e-mail the station and report registration scofflaws, a cop will be dispatched to evaluate the situation, and the car can be towed off just like that. If you're not in Chignell's jurisdiction, however, he suggests you place your call directly to the Department of Parking and Traffic.

Chignell actively urges Sunset/Parkside residents to report "registration scofflaws" to the police -- and hundreds and hundreds of citizens have taken him up. While, ostensibly, locals are entitled to get down on their hands and knees and inspect the registration sticker on every vehicle, this is really a measure to clear out the rusting, derelict jalopies any visitor to the wide, quiet streets of western San Francisco can't help but notice: "Most of these vehicles are clunkers taking up valuable parking spaces," says Chignell.

In fact, state laws regarding unregistered vehicles are a far more effective tool for Chignell's officers than rules regarding so-called abandoned vehicle. Before towing off an abandoned car, the city must tag it -- which often leads to frustrating, time-consuming cat-and-mouse games in which the vehicle's owner simply moves it a block and the whole process repeats itself, ad nausem. With Chignell's "Scofflaw Program," an irate citizen can call or e-mail the captain and the car can be towed in a matter of hours.

Chignell notes that this is not a revenue-driven measure -- a good number of the cars are never claimed by their wayward owners.

As for taking over a DPT duty in the name of "expediency," Chignell said he's had no complaints yet from Parking and Traffic. Our query to the DPT hasn't yet been returned.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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