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THE VOICE welcomes your letters to the editor. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Please include your name, address, and phone number. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) Be aware that letters may be edited for brevity or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.
A Shallow Ploy
Re "Where the Sidewalk Ends...Perhaps Not Where You Think," May 2009 Voice: I received a ticket while my car was parked in my own driveway and pulled all the way up into my own property, leaving the sidewalk completely clear for any passersby, wheelchairs included.
We have lived at this address for 15 years, parking our car occasionally in our driveway with absolutely no indication from the city or the neighbors that this was a problem, because we do not block the sidewalk in any way. After all these years, to suddenly get a sizeable ticket for an infraction never indicated as an issue seems a shallow ploy by the city to raise revenue at the expense of homeowners and neighborhood goodwill.
Punitive Parking Fines
The reason technical violations of parking regulations are resulting in Noe Valley residents being hit with steep fines lies in the city budget. Our budget this year is $6.5 billion. The money has to come from somewhere, eh?
Common sense tells us those cars pictured on the front page of the May issue of the Noe Valley Voice are not impeding pedestrians. But, where parking regulations were once used to promote safety and order, they must now be used to generate revenue. And that results in the punitive parking fines for our neighbors on Clipper Street.
I don't mind paying top dollar for city services, but the real insult is that we're not getting good value from this revenue. The parks are poorly maintained, the streets are full of potholes, Muni is late and overcrowded, public health services are being cut, and recreation center hours are being trimmed.
Yes, San Francisco has world-class restaurants and beautiful city views. But we pay for the former and the latter are free. If we want topnotch city services, a responsible budget, and sensible parking enforcement, then we must hold our supervisors accountable.
Ugly Bunkers Instead?
I live in the Castro, and we had the same problem as mentioned in your parking story, with a neighbor calling the police on us for parking in our driveway. In that case, the police would ticket only us, not the neighbors up the street nor the ones down. It happened at 9 p.m. once when I was parked there 20 minutes, till finally we moved the garage door in to make the driveway deeper. That solved the problem. The car doesn't stick out.
The law should be a minimum number of inches needed to clear. Our sidewalk, even blocked, is wider than our neighbor's across the street, yet they were given a permit to extend their garage out. When I called City Planning, they said sure, you can get one too. So the city's proposal is to make ugly bunkers in front of everyone's houses?
What about all the streets with cement planter boxes on the sidewalks? This is selective enforcement that amounts to harassment.
At some point, people are going to say enough and just move out of the city. We considered it over the driveway issue.
A Job for the Mayor
Thank you for the comprehensive article in the May issue of the Noe Valley Voice on parking tickets being issued to residents and homeowners who foolishly think they can park in front of their own homes.
The article points out that it is California law, not city law, that prohibits vehicles from being parked on any part of a sidewalk. So the city says there is nothing it can do but issue tickets to those who break the law. California--and every other state in the union--reserves the right to issue marriage licenses. Yet that did not prevent the City and County of San Francisco from defiantly issuing its own.
Since City Hall has a precedent of selectively enforcing state laws, this sidewalk parking issue would seem to be a popular one to modify to local needs. I understand that sidewalks are to provide "access for everyone." But as the article mentions, some of these sidewalks are wide enough to park a car, and still have room for tandem wheelchairs to pass. Others, such as the one in front of my home, are not accessible at either end without going into the street anyway--while a perfectly flat, totally accessible, car-free sidewalk exists on the opposite side of the street. Where is the harm to the public good if people park on sidewalks in front of their homes in these instances?
Our mayor wants to be governor. Supporting a modification of this unbending state regulation would certainly be a popular move in his hometown. If, however, the true reason for enforcing this law is to raise extra revenue from those already paying property taxes, well, that's a different matter for voters to consider, isn't it?
Where to Put Your Stimulus Pay
I'm a Noe Valley resident and "senior" who just received his $250 Economic Stimulus Payment. I immediately took half of it, $125, to our own 30th Street Senior Center, which provides wonderful services, including an exercise program and hot meals at lunch, to Noe Valley and Mission seniors.
It's my very own Noe Valley economic stimulus payment to a neighborhood nonprofit that helps all of us.
If you also received a Social Security stimulus payment, please consider donating some of it to help continue the services at the 30th Street Senior Center, 225 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131.
Good Works from Auto Works
The economy is terrible, people are in bad moods, and road rage is rampant. To add to that, I am a single mother who was laid off on Oct. 31, my house caught fire on March 27, and then on April 2, the brakes went out on my car. Too much was going on for me to be upset, so I called Noe Valley Auto Works and took my car in immediately--I had gone to them for years and they had always been fair and honest. A couple of hours later, I found out that my car also needed $400 worth of other work. As I swallowed down panic, I explained what was going on in my life--I was not complaining, just explaining why I needed my car--and said I could not afford anything that was not absolutely necessary. As usual, they called me back and told me not to worry--some of the things could wait and they would only do what was necessary.
I was thinking the worst when I went to pick up the car, credit card in hand, ready to hold back tears and fears. Instead, all I owed for was the brakes. They had done all of the other work, but in place of an amount due, they wrote on the bill, "Sorry to hear about your misfortune. Hopefully this will be the start of good fortune in the future."
Even without this event, I had referred people to Noe Valley Auto Works, but I do believe that this act of kindness should be acknowledged, and in a big way. This simple act helped turn around my view of the world. No longer a victim, I was able to continue to look for a job and start rebuilding my house. More importantly, I am a better mother to my son and proud to be able to show him what simple acts of kindness can do.
Noe Valley Auto Works deserves attention for this. They are truly a part of the Noe Valley community that cares about people.