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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Can You Legally Stand in a Parking Spot and Reserve It? Survey Says...

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 7:30 AM

This image is relevant to this story, amazingly
  • This image is relevant to this story, amazingly
Parking in San Francisco is such a rare commodity that people have literally killed each other over a spot. Spend 45 minutes cruising around late at night looking to get out of the car and even the most mild-mannered milquetoast can be transformed into steam-snorting maniac. So when it comes to cajoling your passenger to make him or herself useful and run and "reserve" that spot for you -- it's hardly a decision.

But, you know, it ain't legal.

San Francisco Police spokesman Officer Samson Chan affirms that standing in a parking spot and waving off rightful parkers because you've "saved" it is a violation of California Vehicle Code 21954(a).

It's a short and relatively readable section titled "Pedestrians Outside Crosswalk":

21954. (a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.

In short, you're impeding upon the right-of-way of a motorist to stand in a parking spot and not allow him or her to park. Interestingly, a veteran cop noted that this is also the infraction used to "get the ball rolling" in combating roadside prostitution.

Showing our age, however, we sprung the Bosom Buddies question on Chan. The 1980 sitcom starred Peter Scolari -- who went on to Hollywood greatness -- and Tom Hanks -- who no one heard from again -- as two guys who dress as ladies to live in a dirt cheap, all-women's building. That much most people remember. But, for some reason, I was always taken with the scene in the opening montage -- thanks, YouTube! -- where the two stars put a couple of coins in the parking meter, then sat in their lounge chairs and soaked in the rays while sprawled out in a parking spot.

If I'm putting money in the meter, shouldn't I be able to put whatever I want in that parking spot?

"No," answered Chan. "It's for vehicles. It's illegal for you to be there."

Hmmmph. Peter Scolari and Tom Hanks have led us astray!

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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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