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Move Your Car Or Be Towed!

Original post made by Resident, Crescent Park, on Jun 24, 2008

I just arrived home to find a TOW Warning note on the kid car that stays at the curb when not in use. It says that I have only 72 hours to move the vehicle or it will be cited and towed. I immediately called the police department to find out what was going on, since we do use the vehicle just not as frequently as our other car. The kid's friends have nicer cars then this one and so they use the nicer cars. I was told that someone must have called the vehicle in as being abandoned! What - That car is moved at least once a week and it certainly does not look abandoned. It is washed and driven, just not everyday. I do know that my new neighbor usually parks in that spot and made a comment to me about leaving that one spot open for his car. The problem is that this new neighbor has four cars with only two adults in the house. He parks every single one of his cars in the street. I don't care where he parks, but it appears that he might care where I park.

Does anyone know if the records at the police department are open to the public for this type of call? I think they are a matter of public record. I would love to know who caused this hassle. It has only been in that spot for two days. I know people park their cars on the street for longer than two days at a time around here and nobody thinks anything of it. I certainly don't.

Think of allthe cars that could be called into the police department as abandoned just because someone decides they feel like causing trouble.

The ordinance that the police use to tow your car in this situation gives you 72 hours to move the car. It you don't, you will pay a $60.00 citation and then lots more for the towing and impound fee.
Seems excessive to me.

I'll move it, but it's funny how the police can't seem to move the homeless from wherever they choose to live on the street, but a car that is owned and registered to a Palo Alto resident and is parked in front of the house where that Palo Alto resident lives needs to be towed if not moved within their timeframe. What if we were on vacation? Seems like an easy way to get more money from the residents for the police department. Maybe their saving up for their "public safety", i.e., "police station".

Comments (71)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm

I just wish that all the cars parked on the street were moved on street sweeping days. I think, particularly in the fall when there are leaves and winter when there are branches from storms, that those who choose not to park on their own property on these days should be cited.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 24, 2008 at 5:53 pm

I actually think that if residents are told when the street will be cleaned, it is reasonable to expect that the cars will be moved so that the dirt and leaves can be swept. That's not what's going on here. I would be more then happy to move it for street cleaning. It's not like this car doesn't move. It does, just not for the past two days.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:28 pm

I believe we all are told when street sweeping in our area is and if we don't know, then keeping your eyes open or speaking to neighbors may tell you.

I agree that any resident who owns more cars than they can park on their property seems somehow wrong. I also agree that cars that are parked on property but never moved and have flat tires and outdated tags are an eyesore. I also think that people who continually park on the street so that their kids can play basketball on the driveway or then can store a boat on the driveway, are also disrespectful to neighbors. I often have to turn in culdesacs, and these should also be no go parking areas as it is often difficult to turn when all the cars park there. I also wish that my small amount of kerb was not used by neighbors to park their own cars when they have perfectly usable driveways so that when I have guests, they have to park halfway down the street.

But, unfortunately, I am alone in all this. Public streets are used by people to park their cars instead of their drives.

Such is life.

However, I don't think reporting these to the police are the right way to go about things, so you have my sympathy?

Have you and your neighbors tried discussing these issues civilly? That may be the right step.

Posted by 72 hour curfew
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Don't blame the Police. It was the residents of Palo Alto who urged Council to tighten up on abandoned or little used cars left on our streets. The Police are only doing the job the residents want them to do, and the Council has empowered them to do.

The number of Community Police officers has been reduced recently, so it is unlikely they would ticket your car unless it was brought to their attention.

Just make sure you move your car every 72 hours or less.

Posted by Its the model !!
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 25, 2008 at 5:13 am

If it were a Lexus your neighbor wouldnt have complained. Change your car or change your neighbor.

Posted by chilll, folks!
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 5:47 am

Geez. Don't you guys hear how you sound? Think of the natural extension here.

" agree that any resident who owns more cars than they can park on their property seems somehow wrong."

"agree that any resident who owns more cars than they can park on their property seems somehow wrong."

Now you own not only your house but your neighbor's also? They can't park in front of their own home? What next? Requiring everyone to park INSIDE their garage?

If you want that kind of control on your neighbor ( and, conversely by your neighbor on YOU), move to a gated community where there are neighborhood associations making the rules for you..what colors to paint your house, how much grass has to be in your front yard, whether or not you are allowed to park on your driveway, let alone on the street, how late your porch lights can be on, what you can hang from your front porch for decoration.

Just quit trying to control everyone else! Don't you see where this attitude is taking us?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:49 am

Chill, folks: PA is a very controlling community. You live by our standards and move your car every 72 hours or risk getting towed and fined, i6's as simple as that.

BTW I park my car in a garage because cars left on our street get broken into, maybe your's will, the Police are doing you a favor.

Posted by ParkingInPaloAlto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:57 am

It part of Palo Alto's ordinance that cars can only be parked in one place for up to 3 days. Any longer and they are subject to towing.
How this plays out is someone puts in a call to say a car has been abandoned (you can do it on-line). The police come after three days and put a notice on the car saying it will be towed if not moved in the next 3 days. So, you effectively have 6 days of parking.
Given the above, your car must have been in the same spot for at least 3 days and probably longer since I'm assuming your "neighbor" didn't report it abandoned immediately.

Maybe we should go the Menlo Park route and have ALL cars moved off the street overnight. It sure keeps the streets a lot tidier and you seem to get less cars during the day as well.

Posted by johnh
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:07 am

There's only one thing to do in this scenario. Get to know your neighbors, and let them get to know you. Casually mention (not the first thing out of your mouth) that someone called to have your kid's car towed. Also, talk to your four car neighbor and explain to him that there isn't assigned parking on the street, first come first served.

I have an old car, an old beat up truck, and my neighbor has a collection of vehicles in various conditions that we leave on the street for long periods of time. Since people know us and know that those are our vehicles, we never get tow notices.

Posted by pao alto parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:16 am

The police dept will not put a tow sign on a car unless they receive a complaint. You can report cars anonymously. We had a neighbor who rented a room to someone who owned two really beat up trucks, usually filled with trash or landscaping debris,who would park them in front of our house for weeks, so it is nice to have this law.

Suggestion - park in front of your own house, move the car every 72 hours (all you have to do is drive it around the block...

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:46 am

I don't think anyone should be able to anonymously make a complaint like this using a city ordinance to facilitate their personal motive. If you think someone is breaking the law, leave your name and number for the police to contact you and speak with you about the situation. In my case, the car did not sit in the same position for three days before a TOW NOTICE was plastered on the windshield. I think that whoever called in this bogus complaint should be held accountable. If he or she were required to identify themselves at the time of the complaint being filed, the police could better insure that the complaints are valid BEFORE issuing a TOW NOTICE. I place part of the blame on the police for not requiring I.D. from the complaining party. It's irresponsible.

Posted by wow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2008 at 10:54 am

Let me get this straight. The son parks in front of his house, which the 4-car neighbor sees as their territory. They call the police who wait three days before coming out. In the meantime, the son drives and comes back to the same spot. The police ticket him. Is this right?

Posted by Sherlock
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2008 at 12:19 pm

'pao alto parent' sounds like your culprit. Don't park a beat up pick up truck in front of her house. Remember, Crescent Park is not Fremont for Christ's sake.

Posted by Yuk
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Wow, is this really what happened? Are we now a city that requires all owned cars to be parked in the garage or on the driveway? We can't park in front of our own homes any more?

I hope this isn't true.

Posted by Me
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:23 pm

The street belongs to the city, however, there are common courtesy, unwritten, common sense "rules", such as, park in front of your own house instead of in front of someone else's house, and don't park campers or unsightly looking vehicles in front of the house.

Posted by True
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I agree with "Me" - you need to follow some conventions. If you park in front of someone else's house, they are going to get irritated over time. If you park a junker on the street, it will grate on some people (depending on the neighborhood). Eventually they'll say something to you, or half the time just call the cops. It tends to work, though at the expense of some neighborly feeling (someone did it to us once).

I lived in a town back east with no overnight parking on the street. It was mildly annoying, and we'd get a $5 ticket once a year if we left our car out too often. But overall it was a lot tidier than here and I wouldn't mind it at all.

Posted by 30 year resident of PA
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:39 pm

I just celebrated my 30th anniversary as a Palo Alto homeowner. I have never been informed of the street sweeping schedule, and honestly have no idea if there even IS a regular schedule. I would gladly move the one car I own that is often parked on the street onto my driveway if I was informed of the street sweeping schedule.

As for this issue, I've seen it happen once or twice over the 30 years. I called once to ask the police to cite a car that had been parked partially blocking my driveway for a couple of days. I'd left a note on the car and had asked my immediate neighbors if they knew who had parked the car there, but nobody knew to whom it belonged. I never heard from the owner, even after it was towed. (My note, with my name, address and phone number, was still on the windshield when the car was hauled away.)

Nobody "owns" the street in front of their house! We had a disabled neighbor over a decade ago, and everyone just left the curb in front of his house alone so that he could park there easily. But then I live on a street where most everyone knows one another -- part of its charm for me, and why I'm still here after 30 years.

Posted by Me
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:52 pm

30 Year Resident said "nobody owns the street in front of their house!" Let's park a car or two in front of her house and see how long it takes her to complain...(moving and reparking every 6 days, of course).

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Wow - What happened is that my kid's car, a 1993 Jeep, was parked a few days ago in front of the neighbors home. There were NO spots near our home at that time. We live in a very busy area near downtown. A call is made to the police that there is an abandoned car on the street (our car, which has been parked on the street since 1996 when not in use). The police came out and placed a TOW WARNING sign on the windshield (not a ticket yet), which says that it will be cited (ticketed)and towed if not moved in the next 72 hours. This apparently is authorized by a city ordinance. Great!
So, it's summer now and the car is not used everyday (no school, etc.) I told my son he will just have to keep moving it every few days if he gets stuck parking it in front of this guy's house. Can't believe it but it's true.
Note - For everyone on this post that thinks it should be parked in front of our home or in the garage, it's not possible. Our street is always busy with lots of cars and very little parking. Not everyone has a garage!

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Just found my day for street sweeping in less than 2 mins. on the city web page. Just look up the website, enter street sweeping in the search, find the link to page, scroll down street list and your day comes up. I found mine, even though I knew it already.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:06 pm

CP Resident

Has it occurred to you that since you say there is a lot of people parking on your street, that perhaps someone called the police about a different car and they came and assumed it was your car?

I don't know, but the police may have got the wrong car. Perhaps if you try talking to them politely.

Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Ok, folks. Let's get our facts straight before we spout off. If you actually read the notice that you received it says two things of note:

1. California law requires that cars parked on public roads be moved at least every 3 days. Palo Alto has an ordinance too, but it simply duplicates the state law. My point is that this is not just a Palo Alto thing. It's state law.

2. The notice is a warning, notifying you of a possible violation, not a ticket. If the city wanted to raise money from towing your car, they'd just chalk your tires and then tow your car 3 days later without giving you any warning.

Why do I know this? Because my son's car was tagged once when he left it at my house during a vacation. What did I do? I moved the car every three days, instead of complaining on a web site.

My personal opinion: as long as a car is not truly abandoned, neighbors shouldn't call in complaints like this about one another. But, with that said, if your car sits for more than 3 days after getting the warning notice, and it gets towed, I don't feel sorry for you.

Posted by Kate
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Jimmy - Not everyone, obviously, agrees with you.

Posted by grandma
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 6:59 pm


So you have no idea who complained but in a public forum you are ready to tell us all it was your new neighbor. Already making libelous statements and Unfounded accusations about others? already professing your neighbor guilty ? This manner of reasoning leaves a lot to be desired namely neighborliness.

Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:11 pm

My husband and I must have two cars because of work and must park one on the street since we have only a one car garage and no other space to park in our complex. My neighbors never complained. I have another home in a big city and everybody parks for a long time without moving the cars because we walk and take public transportation a lot. We have stickers and whereas they don't give anybody the right to park in front of their own house they serve as a recognizer that we are residents. I and my very well off neighbors never felt it is a problem to have cars in front of our (town)houses.

Posted by dave
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Thank you Jimmy, for a reasoned posting. I believe the parking enforcement officer, not a regular sworn officer, tries to read the mileage on a car's odometer, records it, and checks it again after 3 or 4 days.

As several pointed out, just move the car a half mile or so, and you shouldn't have a problem - except with a disgruntled neighbor.

It's amazing to me that so many people complain and make no effort to get their facts straight before getting upset. A case in point was the person who didn't know when his/her street was swept. Thank you resident for a polite sharing of information.

Posted by dave
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Of course I was thanking resident of Another Palo Alto Neighborhood for the sharing of information, not the resident of Crescent Park.

Posted by Me
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 25, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Narnia, parking in front of a townhome is different than parking in front of one's house. It is more acceptable to park in front of a townhouse.

I live in an area full of Eichlers (1900sf and less) and y'all know how small these houses are. Most Eichlers have only enough room for two cars on the driveway and one car in front of the house. Some even have room in their garages to park one car, but since the houses are so small, most use the garage for storage. Most people park at least one car in the driveway. Some people extend their driveways so that they can park three cars there. If an Eichler resident can possibly fit 4 cars (3 on the driveway, 1 in front/1 in garage, 2 on driveway, 1 in front), then tell me why a Crescent Park resident cannot do that also when most Crescent Park houses are larger...

Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Me, you are right in a way but let me just point out to you that those townhouses you are talking about are worth many time an eichler and the residents are very very prominent people. If they don't care with all the security concerns that most of them have I think it's a bit of a psychological problem with those who object about their neighbors' cars in front of what they think of as being their street. it's not. It's a Palo Alto street. However, I expect that those parking will not make noise and behave well.
One of the problems Palo Alto have is that there aren't any parking garages accessible to most people like in a bigger city. There aren't any in Midtown where I live. How on earth am I going to park the "extra" car which I absolutely need? It's already the case that my child has no car because of this situation. No, it's not nice to lie and say a car is abandoned. It's in fact actionable. If this is the only problem we have I am glad.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Nearly every City in the U.S. has a 72 hour limit to parking in one place this is not exactly a "just in Palo Alto" thing.

Posted by Me
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Narnia, very difficult to believe that a townhouse in the Midtown area is worth "many time an Eicher" in north Palo Alto. Eichlers in NPA are around $1.6 million. You are telling me that your townhouse is worth some $3 million? How on Earth are you going park the extra car which you need? Sell your $3 million townhouse and buy a house of course! Then you will likely have a two-car garage plus driveway.

There are "very, very prominent people" who live all over Palo Alto.

You obviously have a low self-esteem to bring in such subjects when the issue is parking on the streets. People who live in condos and townhouses don't care about any front yard like the people who live in houses do. Otherwise, they would buy a house!

Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 6:49 am


I am not referring to a townhouse in Midtown. I am referring to the townhouse I own in the big city where everybody has their neighbors cars in front of the house and where security details are common.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2008 at 7:17 am

Grandma - Why are you calling me "Kate" and who are you? I noticed that you had a strong disagreement about race issues on another thread with Kate, but it's odd that you would carry that over to this thread.

Posted by thanks for explanation
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 7:31 am

Oh, I see what really happened.

Tough situation if you live on a very busy street where there is usually someone else parked in front of your own house. I wonder how useful it would be for you to put a "no parking" sign in front of your home to leave it open for your son? In the meantime, if he must park in front of your nieghbor, perhaps y'all can keep an eye out and move the car back to your front as soon as there is an opening.

That said, if I lived on a very busy street where there were usually lots of cars on the street...I wouldn't call about my neighbor's son's car parked in front of my house! Seems like bad karma to me!

Posted by Eyes Rolling
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 26, 2008 at 8:32 am

Resident, Grandma is a troll who has gotten confused with who she is typing to because this is all she does all day long. She has no life or anyone else to talk to so she deliberately provokes people so they will pay attention to her. Much like Fireman.

Definition of troll: to deliberately post derogatory or inflammatory comments to a community forum, chat room, newsgroup and/or a blog in order to bait other users into responding.

Posted by Marcel
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 26, 2008 at 9:07 am

it seems like very few residents use their garages for parking their vehicles. It seems like garages in Palo Alto are used mainly for storage. There will be far fewer cars on the streets if people actually use their garage for their cars. The streets will be much cleaner too. On my street mostly the same cars are parked at the same spot on street cleaning days. There are huge piles of magnolia leaves around them at this time of year when Magnolia trees shed their leaves, since the street sweeping machines never get to clear them. In Los Angeles, cars have to be off the street on street sweeping days. The day and hours(there's a 2 hour window) are clearly indicated on street signs. The penalty is a hefty fine AND towing. I wish Palo Alto would do the same.

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Jun 26, 2008 at 10:56 am

Clearly, people who live in suburbs and move into townhouses, condominiums, or apartments do not care about cars parked on the street in front. It comes with the territory. These people are living there because they don't care about a backyard or frontyard or what it looks like when they look out the front window. Or they cannot afford to buy a house in Palo Alto, which is possible, given the outrageous prices. Or they do not have children and don't want to maintain house. Palo Alto is a safe city versus living in a big city where people want the security of living in a building (unless they are unethical in everyday dealings).

Those who say they don't mind cars parked in front of their houses probably have never had cars parked in front of their houses for months on end because if they did, they would eventually complain. People who own houses buy them so they can enjoy the neighborhood and it is unfair for them to have to see someone else's parked car in front of their house everytime they leave the house. People, just park your cars in your driveway or in front of your own house.

Posted by SC
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 11:05 am

I would not complain unless it was parked in front of my house. Someone parked a car right along the entrance to my front walkway and it sat there for a month. I presume the person went on vacation with one of my neighbor's families. Still, my guests had to park down the street when they visited and, yes, the street sweepers had to swerve around it each week. Just be considerate and park the extra cars along your own property.

Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I find it difficult to understand your comments. My townhouse in the east coast is in one of the most expensive markets in the world and my neighbors are mostly political figures or so well off they have their names in several buildings etc : they have other people's cars parked in front of their doors and we don't care. I only live part time in midtown and I am very comfortable in my neighborhood....very nice people which is all I care about really

you say

"These people are living there because they don't care about a backyard or frontyard or what it looks like when they look out the front window.."

What? Don't be ridiculous! In front of my window in my eastern seaboard townhouse I see other lovely townhouses and front the top floor 5 of the most celebrated buildings in America sited in a beautiful park.

What the problem seems to be is that someone assumes the street is their possession. If you don't mind seeing cars in your own driveway (and letting their neighbors see them too all day and night long) why would they object to those cars on the street? My pet peeve (and it's no more than an irrational pet peeve as all pet peeves are) is cars on the driveway. Cars in my view belong to garages not driveways were they are unsightly.
But I recognize it's no more than a pet peeve and so should you as far as parked cars go. Don't you have anything else to do but to look out of the window? and when you do do you enjoy so much seeing asphalt?

I agree with you that street cleaning can be a problem with parked cars but I see no mention of street cleaning in any of the street signs as I have in my eastern street. How is a visitor suppose to know? this is the first time I heard about it. Even in my old Palo Alto street where I had a backyard and front yard and a nice house (no thanks, I don't want the trouble-good riddance) I never saw any city street cleaning in all those long years...

Posted by Stay-at-home mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Ah! Another troll is spotted and her name is Narnia! Like the article about trolls in the PA Weekly, she uses poor grammar. She has no other life so she trolls the Town Forum, bragging about how she has some great townhouse on the East Coast and used to live in north Palo Alto, probably both lies because Palo Altans are accomplished, intelligent and humble people who do not need to fabricate stories and tell people how rich and famous they are. They know it so have no need to brag. Go ahead and live in your dream world, Narnia, but stick to the theme of the posting instead of wasting everyone else's time with your poor self-esteem issues and trying to prove yourself. The fact that you keep returning to the Town Forum already shows that you are not rich and famous because those people don't have time to read all this--they are too busy being successful.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2008 at 1:20 pm

To Narnia and others who have mentioned that they were not aware of street cleaning days.

I find it surprising that many of you have no thoughts about how your streets get cleaned or when. I know that in the fall the schedules get mixed up, but the street cleaners are hardly invisible. My own street gets a sweeper at any time from 8.00 am til about 11.00 on the scheduled day. It leaves a wet mark at the side of the road which stays for a while depending on the weather. The other side of the street gets a sweep about 15 minutes later and the same wet mark appears. I can also tell by looking whether the street was swept that day because it is free from dirt and leaves. Also, you can tell where a car was parked even if it has been moved since as the wet mark sweeps into the street and the dirty area under the car is evident.

Please to all of you out there, look for your street sweeping day and move yours cars so that the streets can be swept. If nothing else, it helps the drains from not being blocked and road debris getting into the Bay, something all PA greens are worried about.

Posted by WKC
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Resident -

A question. If your neighbor has 4 cars that he parks on the street, does he always park legally (i.e. facing in the right direction)? If not, that's a violation that you can legitimately demand a citation for. California law requires that cars be parked with the right wheels within 18 inches of the right curb, not facing the "wrong way". It's a violation I see frequently in the Crescent Park area. And, if he has 4 cars, does he move them all every 72 hours?

A public street is just that - "public". Parking spaces are available on a "first-come first-served" basis. If you're there first, you're entitled to the space. If your neighbor wants to assert some kind of "territorial imperative", then you can act accordingly, and expect total compliance from him.

My suggestion - continue parking in front of your own house. But do two things - keep a written record of when you've parked, and make sure you drive at least 1/2 mile before the end of 72 hours (as required by ordinance). Then if you continue receiving "warnings" before the 72 hours is up, you have a case for harassment (collect several such "warnings" before you pursue this approach).

On the other hand, sometimes cooperation is the best alternative. It's too easy for a slight disagreement to turn into an all-out "feud", especially if both people are being stubborn.

Posted by John
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 26, 2008 at 1:27 pm

The street sweepers go through my street every Tuesday morning and have been for at least the 20 years I've been living there. Every resident on my street knows this, yet the residents who park their cars on the street don't seem to care a bit that the sweepers have to swerve around their parked cars and that the street never gets fully cleaned and always seems rather dirty. In addition, many of the older cars leak oil into the street and sidewalk which makes them look shoddy and causes them to become slippery after rain gets mixed with engine oil. I resent residents who'd rather use their garage as a storage facility instead of parking their cars in it-very selfish. I hate to use Los Angeles as a model for anything, but every street has signs that indicate when each side of the street will be swept, for example, east side Tuesday between 10-noon, west side Wednesday noon2-pm. Cars parked on the wrong side of the street during the indicated day and time get a citation(it was &50 back in the 1980s when I lived down there) and are sometimes towed away at extra expense to the owner, so there are very few violations.

Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I went from midtown to menlo park using side streets and the only place that had a parking sign with the street cleaning schedule is the 100 block of N california. I also pass by my old house (since 1981) on Greer and found not one sign with the street schedule ( I also do not remember any street cleaning except in the fall). How do you suppose a visitor will find out the " mystery cleaning schedule"? Does a visitor or a new resident have to read the whole Palo alto internet site to figure it out before coming and visiting? I have a new neighbor who has been unable to get internet for about 3 weeks (some wiring problem). Does she guess? all this is parochialism. Put the signs up and nobody has any excuse for parking on cleaning day/time whatever it is. Much bigger cities do it how difficult is it to have it done here? If I park on my eastern city street on friday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00 I will be towed, no warnings: the parking schedule is clearly stated.

Posted by Robert
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2008 at 6:30 pm

narnia -

This isn't a matter of posting hours for street sweeping. It's a matter of law (cars can't be parked more than 72 hours on Palo Alto streets). Visitors may be excused from compliance, but residents have the responsibility to know the law.

But there's another side to this - it sounds like the "neighbor" is using intimidating tactics to attempt to "claim" a parking space that isn't rightfully his, and belongs to anyone who parks there.

A lot of people who move to Palo Alto think that because they can afford to live here, they can dictate what everyone else does. It sounds like that neighbor is one of those people. He/she needs to learn that this is still a public community, and that people need to learn to live together and adjust. He's not that special - his next door neighbor is just as good as he is. He can't get away with demanding what he wants by intimidation. If he wants a guaranteed parking space, he can negotiate it with his neighbors, not terrorize them.

Posted by Duh
a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 26, 2008 at 6:46 pm

People in Palo Alto are not idiots. They don't need street cleaning signs. Signs would just ruin the look of our nice neighborhoods and once people know the day, the signs would not be necessary.

Narnia, has your neighbor ever though to look in the telephone book? How helpless is that person? Free telephone books are available in front of every Safeway store.

How can people not know when their street is cleaned? It's the same time and day every week. I did the work for the clued-out and looked in the telephone book, in the blue government pages under the City of Palo Alto, Street Cleaning: 496-6974. I cannot dial the phone for you though.

It would be helpful for the city to do a once around of placing notes on cars when they are street cleaning so people can no longer claim they do not know when the streets are cleaned.

Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 6:50 pm

robert, I would agree with you if I was sure that the situation is as described. But surely if
we could hear from the neighbor maybe we would have a better idea of what he did or if that family indeed did what they are accused of doing.
Did Resident ask the neighbor about this?

I still think that residents' stickers are great and save a great deal of trouble. With car stickers, residents park all they want in any block in their zone with lawful exceptions
( cleaning days, special no park days now and then ) and everybody else is subject to parking regulations. My resident sticker for my second home costs $25.00/year. It's worth all of it. I am pretty sure that there aren't any state or city laws (my second home) about parking for more than 72 hours, but somebody mentioned that there are in California. I don't know. I always had garage parking in Palo Alto until a few months ago when I moved
but the resident sticker seems to me not a bad idea. City would make some money too.

Posted by Robert
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Years ago, Palo Alto had a "no Overnight Parking" ordinance. To park on the street overnight, one needed a permit. I don't know when or why that ordinance was abolished.

I do remember a night when I wrote over 100 citations for violations of that ordinance. Hey - it was a boring night. Needless to say, I didn't make a lot of friends that night.

Not trying to give away my previous profession (it's been over 30 years) -and I WASN'T a "Parking Officer".

Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 8:34 pm


people don't think of those things when they are under great moving pressure. I had no idea they have phone books at safeway or why a supermarket would have phone books for consultation. I shop elsewhere.
It's also the case that different places have street cleaning under different headings. and it's hard to figure out were to go to get the information. My neighbor comes from a city that does street cleaning precisely twice a year, fall and spring. they don't even do snow removal in the narrower streets so how would she figure out that here it's every week (my street cleaning was today but I saw none of it)?.

Please let us be a little less judgmental- not every place does things in a similar way. Why not just be nice and speak with the neighbors about these and other neighboring matters instead of being vindictive. One day you may need such allowances if you happen to move to a different place.
Certainly, it wasn't nice what happened to Resident, quite distressing, but maybe the responsible party was not that neighbor... and I still think that resident stickers are a nice way to run city parking not withstanding Robert experience with ticket giving....

Posted by Lullaby
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 27, 2008 at 7:41 am

Our streets are clean in spite of (lacking) overnight parking rules etc. etc. However have plenty of potholes and roughed up streets - but that is another bed time story.

Posted by carioca
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:21 am

Street signs indicating the day and hours of street sweeping couldn't possibly be uglier than cars parked partially on the street, partially on the sidewalk, some leaking oil, surrounded by piles of magnolia leaves the street cleaning vehicles couldn't clean. The notion that residents just don't know when their street is cleaned is ridiculous. Even if a resident leaves home for work before street cleaning and returns after, he/she could easily find out if they wanted to. In addition, you can tell when your street has been sweeped(clue-it looks cleaner) and after a couple of weeks in a new house, even the most unobservant and spaced-out resident could figure it out.

Posted by TJ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:44 am

Banning parking on street sweeping days has been discussed by Council. The reason for no signs telling vehicle owners to get their cars off the street on that day is because PA does not have sufficient Community Police officers to enforce such a ban.

In fact, the number of Community Police officers has been cut due to cuts in the Police budget. If you want vehicle removal on street sweeping day enforced, lobby for the Police budget to be increased!!

Due to neighborhood pressure we have one Community Police Officer who devotes all his time to policing noise from leaf blowers. Why, one Community Police Officer for that service!! There was huge pressure from some people in town to hassle the gardeners about the noise from their leaf blowers!! They lobbied Council and got full time enforcement!

Posted by Seth
a resident of another community
on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:55 am

I was working at University Art and parked in exactly the same spot caddy corner from the entrance of the Police Station 4 days in a row. Every night I drove my car home, over a mile away.

On the 4th day in the same spot, the P.A.P.D. towed my vehicle for being "abandoned" longer than 72 hours. They had never chalked the wheels, never issued a warning notice, never checked the odometer. An officer decided since it was in the same spot it was never moved.

I contacted the police and told them to release my car. It took them 3 days to release it. They refused to pay the tow fee or storage costs. It took a formal letter on an attorney's letterhead before I was reimbursed - and by the time I got a check it was 4 years later! Never once did I get an apology.

Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:58 am

"There was huge pressure from some people in town to hassle the gardeners about the noise from their leaf blowers!! They lobbied Council and got full time enforcement!"
I must live on Mars. 99 percent of the gardeners I see are using gasoline leafblowers with impunity without any evidence of any hassle. I asked around and don't know of even one gardeners who received a fine for using banned leafblowers in the last couple of years. i'm sure everybody would love such a "hassle".
This isn't about leafblowers, but they are a major noise and air polluter and I wish the ban against them was a real one, not the Palo Alto unenforced, 3 complaints against you and you receive a $100 fine you don't actually have to pay Micky Mouse kind that we have.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2008 at 10:57 am

The problem with some of these "bans" is that often people don't know about them. How many new people have moved into PA since the leafblower ban? How many new gardeners have moved from Mexico or wherever and don't know about the ban? How many people are short term renters and don't know about street cleaning days.

As neighbors we tell our new neighbors the best place to go for a haircut or the best way to get to the highway, but do we ever mention "Oh, by the way the street cleaners came yesterday and your car was in the way. Remember next xxxday is street cleaning day". Done in a friendly fashion to a new neighbor no one will take offence but be pleased to be told.

The trouble is that we all try be nice when we try to be friendly. Sometimes it is actually nice to give the useful information too. Our relatively new neighbors kept getting their recycling and trashcans left full with notes on them. I spent a couple of minutes pointing out the dos and don'ts and now we are good friends and their trash and recycling habits fit in fine for all.

Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2008 at 11:09 am

How many times is it necessary to explain that in many communities there is no regular street cleaning and therefore people don't think of it as a regular municipal service.?
Carioca, do they have regular street cleaning in Rio de Janeiro? Is that why you think everybody is attuned to municipal services as they arrive?

I just checked the city to learn about the parking ordinance (under vehicle abatement). it says (among other things) :

"Vehicles owned by the residents of a particular property may be repaired, restored or otherwise serviced in the driveway providing the vehicle is not out (visible) for more than 72 hours during any 96 hour period. Beyond that time limit, they must be in a garage or screened." Is vacuuming your car servicing it? It gives the impression that you can't even park in your own driveway and your car can be towed while parked on your driveway.

Now the 3 day rule (72 hours) is under Street Sweeping Ordinances
"The maximum term for residential on-street parking is 72 hours unless otherwise posted. Vehicles that are left standing are subject to citation or tow. Please park your car off-street on sweeping day."

The last ordinance is moronic : 72 hours in what period?
After the 72 hours of street parking it gives the impression you can't park again at all in any city street, or is it just not on the same spot? Same block? WHAT?
I could go on and rip the city's "information" apart but let me tell you what the very clear parking ordinance is for my second home.

Residents with resident stickers park any time for any length of time they want (with exceptions for street cleaning, repairs, etc). for all others the limit is a consecutive 2 hours in the same block. If you move to another block you have other 2 hours.
A vehicle is considered abandoned if it is inoperable and has been unattended for more than 48 consecutive hours on a public street or vehicle has remained ILLEGALLY on public property for a period of forty-eight (48) consecutive hours.
So if a non-sticker person has the car for more than 48 hours on a spot that car has been abandoned (in addition to parking tickets accrued).

It seems to me that the city of Palo Alto should be clearer explaining the parking rules.
Parking rules are also different for different parts of Palo Alto and Resident child's car might just have broken some "downtown" parking rule unwittingly. That's why I think resident stickers are a good thing and that ordinances' clarifications should be easy to understand and follow.

Posted by carioca
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2008 at 1:03 pm

We will have far fewer cars parked on residential streets if residents used their garages to store their cars in when not driving them instead of using their garages as storing facilities and the streets as garages.
The issue of cars parked on residential streets during street cleaning should be dealt with not through citations and towing, but through a mentality that it's not cool to park your car on the street when it's being sweeped since it keeps the street from being thoroughly cleaned. Each neighborhood association should inform every household, although with the exception of new residents they already know, of the day each street is being cleaned (they are generally done before noon).

Posted by vinnie
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 27, 2008 at 1:55 pm

If you have other cars of your own, simply try to rotate all of your vehicles in and out of that space on the street. Move the 'kid car' into your driveway, and park some other car in the street for awhile. Is your neighbor going to call the police every time a different car appears in that spot? I doubt it. If he does, the police will soon discover that he's merely a nuisance.

Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2008 at 9:07 am

It's funny how people gripe about the anonymity of the parking complaint, and then don't sign their names. Just move the car. You have a controlling neighbor, but if you stay within the law there isn't much they can do. Neither you nor your neighbor owns the street. Peace.

Posted by John the Man
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2008 at 1:58 pm

What's 'excessive' is your whining about it. Just.Move.Your.Car.

What is so difficult about that?

Posted by JJ
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2008 at 3:31 pm

If you live in a house with a 2 car garage,like most of us do, park your cars in your garage. If your household has more than 2 cars, park the rest in your driveway. Don't park your cars on the street unless it's the only option available, and if you do, park them elsewhere when your street is being cleaned and make sure they are moved every 72 hours. It's not that difficult.

Posted by curious
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jul 7, 2008 at 7:34 pm

so, curious if the police actually come around after posting a 72 hour move it or get towed notice... do they write a ticket warning and then come around and actually checkup on your chalked up tires or odometer that you've moved the car? How much does such a ticket/tow cost? just curious.

Posted by snoopy
a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2009 at 9:57 am

It should make to law that only the owner can allow to park in front of his/her own home and nobody else. Overall, it is our tax dollar to maintain the street. Other neighbor don't pay my property tax. Common courtesy doesn't seen to exit much in today world. It save the law enforcement a lot of hassle of numerous nuissance calls. The resident can call the city toll company themself if any strange car park in front of their house. It increases the revenue for the city and no frustration for the home owner. It is a win win.

Posted by Joker
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 24, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Even worse... I live and work in the Palo Alto area.

I wasn't even in the PA area this past weekend and drove my car for more than 100 miles. Came home Monday morning and parked my car. Received a Tow Notice for being in the spot for roughly 2 hours.

1. Car is registered...
2. FasTrak proof that I just crossed the bridge...
3. Odometer is digital so PD never really gave me a chance...

This is sickening.

Posted by Joker
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 24, 2017 at 2:20 pm

BTW - My 2nd car is 911-Turbo, so please don't assume that if someone drives an older car gives you a reason to judge.

That's the problem of living in an Elitist Liberal Neighborhood. (You only care about yourselves.)

Posted by you're in palo alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2017 at 2:53 pm

A car's a car, even an old porsche 911 (who buys those anymore - the 1980's called) and needs to be towed if parked in the same location for 3days.

Posted by Stereotypes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Please stop blaming liberals and progressives for everything. The "democrats" on our city council are democrats in name only -- DINO's -- and there's nothing progressive about stack and pack while hypocritically telling us to conserve energy.

Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Apr 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm

I wish I could park in front of my own house every once in a while.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2017 at 6:08 pm

This article and most letters in the thread are 9 years old!!! Is there no real news?

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 24, 2017 at 9:15 pm

These old threads get resurrected in the middle of the night by spammers advertising their website links. The spam comment is removed by the editor, but the thread seems to gain a "Most recent topic/comment" status and some of us are drawn into it again. Sometimes the editor will finally close it to new comments.

Posted by follow the rules
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 25, 2017 at 1:38 am

Rules apply to everyone equally. No one is above the law in this country. Continuous parking in one spot on a public street in Palo Alto is allowed for 72 hours, that is it. Don't blame the neighbor or anyone else, just the person who left the car unattended for over 72 hours. I would absolutely contact parking enforcement at 650-329-2258 if a car was left sitting on my block for a few days.

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