Advice about Neighbors & Parking
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Advice about Neighbors & Parking
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
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.
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
Cary Tennis on Salon addressed a similar problem a while back:
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
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
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
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
Ignore him. You can't change this angry person. And you don't need to attract his anger to you
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
- 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.
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
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
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.
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!
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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.''
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
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.
Personally, I would keep my mouth shut, park my cars on the
street, and let my friends park in my driveway/garage.
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
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.
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