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January 26, 2023
A San Francisco couple, who have parked in their carport “every day for the last 36 years” were threatened with a fine of $1,542 after the city said it’s illegal for them to park there.
As reported by ABC 7 San Francisco, Judy and Ed Craine told the channel that they’ve “parked in that driveway every day and every night.” But officials told the couple that if they want to continue to do so, they must first build either a cover for the carpad or a garage.
Along with the $1,542 fine, the city also threatened an additional fine of $250-per-day if they refused to park elsewhere.
The Craines explained that the city’s Planning Department is enforcing a decades-old section of code which bans automobiles from being parked on a carpad or setback in front of a house unless it’s accompanied by a garage or cover. Planning Chief Dan Sider said the code was enacted to “ensure that front yards don’t turn into parking lots.”
“I wrote them back saying I thought this was a mistake,” Judy said. Ed agreed, adding: “To all of a sudden to be told you can’t use something that we could use for years, it’s startling. Inexplicable.”
The Planning Department told the couple that they might waive the fine if they could prove that the space has always been used for parking. “We could be grandfathered in. If we show them a historical photo that showed a car… or a horse-drawn buggy in the carport,” Judy said.
The Craines believe the lot has been used for parking since the house was built in 1910 and they gave the Planning Department a 34-year-old photo of their daughter with part of the car visibly seen in the driveway. However, officials told them that the photo wasn’t old enough.
After searching some more, the couple found a blurry aerial photo from 1938 that shows some sort of vehicle pulling into the driveway of the home. “So this little black blob looks like it’s pulling into our house,” Ed said. “I don’t know what else they would be,” he said. “To me, it’s pretty compelling that that was a car pulling in or out of the parking pad.”
But the Planning Department rejected that evidence as well, saying that the nearly 90-year-old photo wasn’t clear enough. “They said that they were too fuzzy,” Judy said.
Chief Sider said that the Planning Department was first notified of the Craines’ use of their driveway after an anonymous complaint was lodged against them and two of their neighbors, who were also tagged with the same violation.
Sider wrote in an email: “I recognize that the property owner is frustrated. I think I would feel the same way in their situation. But the Planning Code doesn’t allow for the City to grandfather illegal uses on account of their having flown below the radar for a length of time.”
The city closed the case against the Craines without charging the couple any fines after the couple removed their car from the carpad and agreed to no longer park there.
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ABC7 NEWS