Noe Valley Voice April 1998

Pentangular Parking Comes to Castro Street

By Gates O. Hell

When Muni's head honcho, Emilio Cruise, rejected a petition for diagonal parking on Castro Street, many Noe Valley drivers sighed in frustration. Diagonal parking would have given the block an additional 4 parking spaces, with only a 500 percent increase in bus accidents.

But Jersey Street resident Sisiphus Persimmons took the failed petition as a challenge. Persimmons has a spacious garage, which he keeps empty so he can get that "echo" effect while doing his daily yoga chants on the concrete floor.

He also has a pristine driveway lined with petunias. "I never use it," he says of his driveway. "My car's over on 26th Street right now."

When a reporter is left speechless by this information, silently recalling the half hour she spent trolling for a space, Persimmons adds helpfully, "It's bad feng-shui to leave a Lexus in the driveway."

Persimmons has come to love the zen of street parking: the soothing lull of the circular tours around block after block, the spike of hope he feels when spying a person heading to their car, keys in hand (followed by the bittersweet realization that that person is just retrieving an infant left in the back seat), and finally, the elation of finding a rare empty parking space.

"And let's face it, parallel parking is about as close to sex as I get these days," says the understandably single Persimmons.

Persimmons, who has a Ph.D. in Fraction Channeling, has developed a new parking plan that would increase parking on Castro Street by a whopping 907 parking spaces.

The new plan, which employs Persimmons' patented "pentangular parking" method, is not for the faint of heart. Use of a calculator, compass, and pocket slide rule is recommended for beginners.

Persimmons explains how it works: First, drivers will no longer park their cars at the curb. They'll park in the middle of Castro Street, and traffic will move on either side along the curb or onto the sidewalk if necessary. To begin, Car A locates a parking space equidistant to the two curbs on opposite sides of Castro Street. This will, by necessity, be a parallel position to the curbs. Car B has two options: (1) Beginning with the bisection position of Car A, it can park at a distance from Car A equal to two-thirds of a standard American car length (which Persimmons has calculated to be the longitude of a VW Jetta) at an angle of 72 degrees. Or (2) Car B can choose a position adjacent to Car A but at a 144-degree angle. "Flexibility is what makes this plan ideal," Persimmons says proudly.

Cars C, D, and E follow the easy 72-degree/144-degree angle protocol, and voila! a pentagram should be visible from above, if you were very tall. Cars F, G, H, J, and K ("I skipped the letter 'I' for obvious reasons," says Persimmons) fill the spokes of the pentagram using a procedure that Persimmons tested and perfected on 24th Street with an '87 Buick Skylark. "I call it 'eight-point-turning,'" he says, "and it's also an aerobic exercise if you don't have power steering."

And say goodbye to parking meters! Persimmons calculates that the city will easily make up the lost revenue by raising the towing fees on Castro Street. Conventional tow trucks would be ineffectual, so offending cars would be airlifted by helicopter out of the area and deposited, well, wherever the chopper wanted. The Parking Department could charge hefty fees for a map with directions to the offending car.

The residents' group Noe Valley Act-Out has just one bone to pick with Persimmons. "We're a little worried about noise from the helicopters," says Kukla Fran-Ollie. "Otherwise, this looks like a very viable plan. We're happy that Mr. Persimmons made sure that none of the latte stands were chain stores."

Latte stands? Persimmons shrugs. "I thought it would be nice to have refreshments in the center of each pentangle."