November 3, 2011

By: Victoria Holliday

Did you know it is illegal to park your car in the same spot in San Francisco for more than 72 hours even if you have a valid residential parking permit? I didn’t – and it cost me $600 in tow fees and $100 SFMTA parking ticket. Ouch! I parked my car on a street near my apartment and did not move or check on it because there was not upcoming street cleaning. One day after work, I got a letter from the SFMTA informing me that my car had been stationary for over 72 hours and had subsequently been towed.

Cars Parked Over 72 Hours In San Francisco Are Considered Abandoned

Under SF Transportation Code Section 7.2.29, parking in the same spot for more than 72 hours is prohibited. If you do, the city considers your car abandoned and will tow it. I’ve lived in San Francisco over 5 years and had never heard of such a law, nor were any signs posted anywhere informing me of such a law. Had I known, I would have moved my car and saved myself $700. The solution: a simple sign under the street cleaning postings.

San Francisco Is In Desperate Need Of Better Information

Reset is all about better living through better information. Better signs can do a lot to help make our cities faster, smarter and better, which is why we created our Muni “Step Down” signs. We can make our city an easier place to live in many ways by simply providing better visual information. The city needs better signage to inform residents that even with a residential parking permit you need to move your car within 72 hours.

San Francisco is the capital of the information economy, but all too often our city government fails to take part in it. When Supervisor Mark Farrell was contacted regarding the need for signs about the 72-hour law, his staffer said that Supervisor Farrell was too busy to talk to a constituent about the issue. Further, the staffer said if residents did not want to move their car every 3 days or be subject to towing in the future, they should rent a garage spot. I don’t know about most people, but $200 a month extra on top of my rent isn’t something I can afford.

Resetting San Francisco Means That City Hall Needs To Be Open And More Transparent

We talk a lot at Reset about the need for transparency. But that shouldn’t just be on our computers, phones and tablets. The cityscape itself is a chance to display information that makes our lives easier. We believe that San Franciscans deserve a voice in City Hall – and that should include communication with and access to their Supervisors.

The city not only needs to educate residents by providing them with access to this information through signs, but city leaders also need to engage San Franciscans to discuss, to share and to explore.

The 72-Hour Law applies to all vehicles parked on all San Francisco streets, even if your vehicle is parked legally, with no other restrictions being violated. Every vehicle in San Francisco can only remain parked in one spot for three days (72 hours) in a row, or it is considered abandoned.

Even with a residential permit and parked in the corresponding residential permit zone and wheels curbed less than eighteen inches away from the curb, your car can remain parked in one spot for only a maximum of 72 hours. After that, your vehicle is considered abandoned. Even if parked at a legal space – that same space ceases to be legal after 72 hours.

Yesterday, Reset San Francisco announced the winner of our mobile app contest to develop an automated towing notification system that allows drivers to know when they’re in a tow away zone. Parkzing – a free mobile application that uses both street cleaning and tow way zone information, worked with the Reset San Francisco team to develop an app that alerts drivers 10 minutes before a tow zone is in effect and also 9pm the night before morning street cleanings. You can download the app for free. Hopefully the app will help people avoid the hassle and financial burden of getting towed.