Neighbors and Parking

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Street parking Nazis for neighbors

July 2013

I live in the Westbrae neighborhood of Berkeley, just south of the Albany border. My family and I rent an in-law and our street is all single family homes (one other house on the block has an in-law renter), and everyone is either a youngish family or older-middle aged. Generally, the neighborhood is very nice and we are able to keep to ourselves and live our lives - except for one insane issue that is really driving me crazy. The home owners are parking Nazis! Each home has 1-2 cars and no one parks in their driveway, instead parking on the street in front of their houses. I have seen neighbors cursing when utility workers have taken their ''spaces'' and everyone is pissy on Sunday when a near-by church is in service and parking gets filled up by visitors. I typically am able to park in front of our rental home, but the owners who live above us in the main house sometimes take that space, or a visitor does, which I do not mind at all (I think that I correctly consider street parking as public parking), so I park elsewhere. I generally find the neighbors' parking territoriality irritating but it hasn't affected me until now.

Well, I parked my car in front of my 2-doors-down neighbor's house on Saturday night and stayed home from working on Monday and then on Tuesday - voila - I had a warning on my car from BPD that my car had been reported as being parked in excess of the legal 72 hours. I am absolutely livid!!!! I can only assume that the person in front of whose house I parked called my car in, and I was not even parked for 72 hours! I moved my car, of course, but what now? Should I avoid parking in front of that specific house at all costs? I am so annoyed I am tempted to knock on that neighbor's door and tell her how absolutely rude he/she is. I have lived here for over 2 years, they absolutely know me and my car. I am so mad, and know I should let it go, but what the heck is up with these people?? I always park legally, and I know I am not in the wrong here. Can I report the neighbors for harassment if they continue to call BPD on my car when it's not parked to their liking? trying to share space like a normal person

Hi -- I just had to chime in here as this issue drives me crazy...We have a couple of people in our neighborhood (and we own a house in Albany) who are also insanely possessive of the street parking in front of their houses, writing notes and sticking them on cars that they deem to have been parked too long or commenting loudly from their front porch. I find it to be truly obnoxious. Although many people have driveways, it seems that most people choose to park in the street. The thing is, there is plenty of parking on our street. I have never not been able to park my car near our house, after years of living there. So all of the fuss makes no sense. One gentleman who lives nearby is 94 years old (still driving!), and there is an unspoken agreement among those of us who live around him to leave him a spot in front of his house. However, occasionally someone will randomly park there and I have never seen him pitch a tantrum. So I have no patience for the younger families who seem to think they own the street parking.

I don't really have any good advice for you, but I did want to affirm your feelings. I will say that what I've chosen to do is ignore it completely, park my car where I want to park my car, and be sure not to leave it in front of the picky neighbors' houses for more than a day or so. I haven't had any confrontations with the neighbors, as I don't see the point of picking any fights. But I refuse to avoid parking in front of their houses if I need to. We are all able-bodied people who are privileged to live in a nice neighborhood with safe streets. To have people get in a snit over street parking makes us all look like jerks. Street Parker

I would establish a record that there's a problem first by filming yourself parking the car along with something identifying the time (a newspaper? Ask a passerby?) Cary Tennis on Salon addressed a similar problem a while back: Fellow Parker

I think it was completely ridiculous for your neighbor to report your car to the BPD. That being said, leaving your car parked in front of your neighbor's house -- especially when you clearly understand the parking dynamics on your street -- was very inconsiderate. We have a similar parking situation on my street: most people park 1-2 cars on the street, in front of their residence. I understand when a visitor or neighbor parks in front of my house for the day, but it makes me crazy when a neighbor leaves their car parked in front of my house for days on end. This seems to happen when I've got a big grocery shopping trip, weekend away, sports game or other event that requires lugging major stuff back and forth between my house and the car. Frankly, it's irritating and inconvenient. When can't park my car in our usual spot, I make sure to move it when that spot opens up again. So that's probably where your neighbor is coming from. When it comes to parking, maybe you are following the letter of the law, but every group of neighbors has their own unwritten code about what is and isn't copacetic. Is it worth compromising your relationship with that neighbor, and perhaps the other neighbors, to prove your point? let it go

Neighbor leaving mean notes on my visitors' cars

Feb 2013

We live on a winding, somewhat narrow street in the hills. Our neighbor has paved a small area with bricks that lies right next to the street, near his driveway. His house is far away from this area, down below street level. There are no sidewalks anywhere. If visitors aren't familiar with our neighborhood, they're tempted to park on this brick area, or alongside it. Our neighbor has never used this area for anything, including parking.

Before we even moved into our house, we were warned by other residents of our neighborhood not to park on the bricks. We try to tell everyone that comes over not to do this, but on occasion (3 times in the past 3 years) we have forgotten to issue our reminder. When someone parks on the bricks, our neighbor leaves a handwritten note under the windshield of the parker's car. Here's what it says: ''Are you blind? You idiot. You are parked on private property, my sidewalk, causing damage. I have your license number when needed to report you for damages to my property.'' He leaves his address and name as well.

I'm not convinced that ''his sidewalk'' is even permitted, but I don't want to get into that issue. What gets me is how mean the note is, for such a minor infraction, and such a rare one. It feels as though he has set a trap (why not post a sign warning people about the bricks, if it bothers him so much?) and relishes the chance to rush up from his house and leave these notes.

So, what should we do, if anything? I would like to get this guy to lighten up on the vitriol, if possible. Catch more flies with honey?

Your neighbor who leaves nasty notes is not going to respond to kindness or logic. I suspect your theory of him enjoying threatening people and getting all riled up is correct. He is irrational. The best way to deal with him is to ignore him. As a back up plan, I would call the city and ask about the legality of the bricked in space and find out if it is a legal parking space or not. If it is legal parking then you could ask the police to speak to him about leaving threatening notes. If at all possible I'd say this neighbor is not someone you want to get involved with in any sort of conflict. He clearly has the desire and energy to engage in conflict and it just isn't worth it. It stinks, but there is always one crazy neighbor in every neighborhood. Good luck!

Ignore him. You can't change this angry person. And you don't need to attract his anger to you personally. My nasty neighbor calls the DPT to ticket people ASAP, and yells at the driver too. My father in law is also obsessed about his ''nice'' brick sidewalk. Ick. Nothing I can do about it. I have nice neighbors too

Sounds like a job for a neighborhood mediation service. I do not know which ones are currently operating. You might check with your city councilmember's staff person who handles constituent services for a recommendation. Of course this neighbor needs to post a ''no parking'' sign, and since he is forward about identifying himself and being an ass, you can leave him a note suggesting the sign. It would cost him about $20 to buy a couple of big orange traffic cones to put on his beloved bricks and drivers would realize that it was a reserved space. Amelia, Veteran of Domestic Wars

Forget the honey for this fly. 1. Get a copy of his plat map from the county and see if that part is an easement or actual sidewalk and hence not private property at all. If this is the case, show him the error of his thinking and ask him not to leave any more notes. If it is his property... 2. Place 3-4 big potted plants on the bricks, anonymously. OR 3. Make your own sign warning people it's private and not to park there, and put it up yourself, anonymously. - good luck

No, in this case I think some vinegar would be better. Invite a friend who is a Marine, or cop to park there, and let them handle the note in their own way. Most likely they will be happy to talk to him, and give their name and number as well. Sounds like your neighbor just needs to meet his equal and have an intersting conversation about this issue. HIs MO is showing

First of all, I will never feel envious of people who live in the hills again. Second, it sounds like a formal written letter to your neighbor would help. I'd send it certified for the record. You should keep several of these notes first, and then hold onto them and indicate to your mildly mentally disturbed neighbor that he or she should stop harrassing guests who park on his/ her unmarked entry landing. If you have a lawyer, I'd have the lawyer write the letter, even if it does not request specific legal remedies. Best of Luck.

Neighbor's van blocks our view of oncoming traffic

August 2011

We live on a narrow hilly street in Berkeley, and share an adjoining driveway with our neighbors. They have a large van which they frequently park right next to our portion of the driveway at the curb but in their driveway. The van is then partially sticking out in to the street, and also partly blocking the sidewalk. The problem is that this completely blocks our view of oncoming traffic. Every time we pull out of the driveway we take a leap of faith that someone isn't barreling down the hill. In fact over the last few years we have had a (thankfully minor) fender bender and a few other near misses that have occured when pulling out of our driveway because of the extremely poor visibility. They have a large garage, and parking on the street in front of their house is usually available.

We've discussed this with them several times over the last few years. We are trying to be patient, good neighbors, and really try not to get worked up over these sort of things. But after another recent near miss with the kids in the car, we're running out of patience. Just wondering if anyone in the community has had a similar experience with this kind of issue or has advice about it. Could this possibly be illegal in some way? Any suggestions other than talking directly with them (which we've done several times) would be very welcome. Can't See in Berkeley

blocking the sidewalk with a vehicle is illegal. you could try calling the police, but you may not get very far given that the police dept has so many other things to do.... anon

Disclaimer - this is my pet peeve so take my advice with a grain of salt. You have the option of calling the parking division of Berkeley and reporting your neighbors for blocking the sidewalk. It isn't neighborly but you have already tried the neighborly thing. A couple of parking tickets might make them rethink their habits. - get the law on your side

If your neighbors van is blocking the sidewalk, it is probably parked illegally and you could complain to the city. This might address the issue but alienate your neighbors.

Is it possible to install a convex mirror somewhere (opposite side of the street?) that would let you see coming traffic? You might enlist you neighbor's help in paying for it. Carrie

Bottom line - it is against the law to block the sidewalk with your vehicle. What your neighbor is doing is not only incredibly annoying and dangerous - it's illegal. I would suggest calling the city and having them issue your neighbor some ''reminders'' until they find another space for their oversized vehicle (since talking to them and asking politely apparently isn't working). I can empathize with you - our neighbor has a huge SUV that doesn't even come close to fitting in their driveway - forcing the many pedestrians (many of whom are children) in our neighborhood to walk into the road to get around it. Rude and clueless. Best of luck to you! has-my-own-issues-with-this

you can likely get the cops to ticket for blocking sidewalk. that said, the neighbors are being kind of jerks about it. safety first! ask them again C.A.L.

Neighbor's GIANT truck parked in front of our house

Sept 2010

Our neighbor across the street just replaced his range rover with a huge twin cab truck--this is not your ordinary truck. It is definitely super sized and sounds like a construction vehicle when starting up. You have to climb up into it as it is taller then an average truck. We live in a small, slight cul-de-sac (not a dead end of the road, but on one side of the road as it corners) and he has started parking it there instead of in front of his house. It is now what we look at outside of our window all day. Since he doesn't work (or has freelance work--we're not sure and assume this truck is for a new career move?) it is there for most of the day. There is plenty of parking in our neighborhood, and tons in front of his house. I'm assuming it is inconvenient for him to put it in his driveway as it would be a very tight squeeze. His side of the street is a narrow turn, so I'm guessing that is why he doesn't usually park it there. It is frustrating for us as it takes up the entire cul-de-sac and we're the only ones who live right on it. I'm not sure if I have any rights in this, but what can i do to make him know that we're not happy with it? What can I say that doesn't sound petty. There are worse things in life, I know, but it is frustrating that he just assumes it is ok to take up the entire cul-de-sac. We have a neutral relationship with him and his family now, but don't want to rock the boat. It sounds petty but this truck is like a giant wall in front of our house and it totally feels out of place. Should I just suck it up and accept that we are now looking at a construction vehicle all day? Or should I say something and if so what? I'm assuming it is not illegal to park a super sized truck on the street-- but shouldn't he park something like that in front of his house? -''Trucked''

Hi, I feel your pain. We moved into our house about three years ago and our neighbor used to park his GIANT truck (sounds similar except this one was a commercial contracting truck) in front of our house. We are also on a cul-de-sac. It was all I could see out my windows. I was very, very resentful. Fortunately, he was usually gone for about half the day and so I would then rush out to park in that same spot. So when he came home, he'd have to park elsewhere. It took months and months, maybe a year, of this until finally he stopped doing it and started parking in his own driveway. Yay! There isn't any way to force change. If he wanted to be ornery, he could probably remind you that it's a public street etc. But I think that talking to him about it may be your best bet. Or, if you can do what I did and start parking in that same spot, maybe he will finally get the hint.

Anyway, I feel for your situation. You aren't being petty. Yes, there are more important things in the world, but when you come home, you want to feel happy, comfortable and at peace with the world. Clearly the truck is taking away from your enjoyment and is causing stress. Shouldn't be that way. Good luck! Considerate of Others

some times guys with big trucks can be a great thing. try talking with him. maybe his partner hates the thing, too? but ask nicely. you seem genuine, you mentioned a career change... maybe you two can collaborate? berkeley has a 72 hour parking limit: if trucks sits, police will happily tag it (revenue) talk with him. that's life in the city... good luck with that citizen at large

I feel your pain; I live on a narrow street, crowded with parked cars on both sides, including a humongous construction pick-up and trailer parked next door, and ''classic'' cars in various states of disrepair permanently lining the other side of the street, since two of my neighbors on that side of the street apparently own and tinker with such cars as a hobby. It's sometimes quite difficult to pull out of my driveway without wounding one of their babies. But you are correct in your assessment, I think, that your neighbor is doing nothing illegal. And you have also observed that he would probably have difficulties parking it elsewhere. Your objections seem to be aesthetic and potentially ideological (why does a person who apparently does not haul heavy equipment need a truck the size of a small building?). And these are objections that are nearly certain to be met with a lack of understanding, a sense of hurt, or derision, or some combination of the above. Sometimes our neighbors value things quite different from the things we value. I probably could call in the cops for the classic cars, since they never move, and there is a local ordinance against parking cars in the same spot without moving over a week. But my neighbors take such obvious pleasure in their behemoths. Pleasure comes in many flavors, including owning a righteous truck when life is otherwise challenging. As long as his vehicle is not leaking oil, waking you up at 6am, blocking your driveway, or something else obviously disruptive in a pragmatic way, I think you have to suck it up. threading the needle on my street

years ago, i was selling an old beater car of mine. it needed serious work but wasn't worth it to me to fix. after turning away a few teenage shoppers (who i feared did not understand the car was unsafe to drive on the freeway as is), i ended up selling it to a clean-cut, professional-type guy. it just seemed really strange to me that this person, who clearly made good money and was not a mechanic would want a car like this. so i asked him what he planned to do with it.... and he said, ''i have this awful neighbor who keeps parking his extremely loud diesel truck in front of our house. it's ugly, noisy, and stinky. we don't want to get into a confrontation with him, so i'm buying your beat up car because it's cheap and legally registered and i'm going to park it in front of my house, so he can't park there.'' maia

Neighbors taking up all the street parking

May 2008

I live in Kensington and recently I noticed that more and more often, our visiting friends don't find parking on our road, because most of the neighbors park all of their cars on the street, including one of those ''antique' cars that to me is just a blight, plus one, two and more vehicles. As a friendly neighbor I never complained, and I make an effort to keep our two cars on our driveway and/or garage. I thought about sending a letter asking everybody to try to keep no more than one car on the street, when possible. Anyone had to deal with something like that? What was the response from the neighbors? I don't want to upset anyone, but I also would be a little happier, knowing I live on a street with people that can share.

The street is for anyone to park on - it is not yours to protect for your visitors. If I got a letter like this from a neighbor, I would start parking on the street more. And right in front of their house. believe it or not, not everything belongs to you

If you don't want to have a friendly conversation with your neighbors about it (and that's probably the best approach if you want to feel like you and your neighbors have open lines of communication), then you could submit a letter (much like the one you wrote here for BPN) to the editor of the Kensington Outlook and see if people read it and respond that way. anon

Personally, I would keep my mouth shut, park my cars on the street, and let my friends park in my driveway/garage. -anon

I also live in Kensington and was just discussing this very issue with our next door neighbor! We both agree that in the last few years the parking situation has gone from bad to worse. Up and down the hill people are street parking and leaving their driveways empty. On our street alone there are three ''abandoned'' vehicles, cars that have not been moved in the last year. I think that a friendly letter to the Outlook would be great. Maybe we could suggest folks donate these vehicles to an organization that would tow them away? I think other responders don't understand that most of Kensington is single lane driving due to all the street parking. If people would park in their driveways, it would be much easier to tell when strangers are in the neighborhood. My neighbor feels that we should call the police (non-emergency number) and report vehicles parked for weeks in the same spot.