Sunday Streets Wrap-up


Sunday Streets appears to have been a success. The weather was great and the attendance was certainly high. Burrito Justice and Mission Loc@l have the breakdown in pictures.

Update: Check out Streetsblog’s great coverage of the event.  They are also calling for the event to occur weekly and for the city to extend the hours beyond 10am-2pm.

On an unfortunate side note, reader guero comes to us with news that the city was being a little liberal with towing Mission resident’s cars before the event. He reports that the towing began at 1 A.M–9 hours prior to the start of the event:

Crazy…I live on one of the blocks for this what-not and I swear about 15 tow trucks descended upon the cars still parked on the street. (about 20 minutes ago- some still here). I read the signs and moved my car earlier today but I guess a lot of people didn’t bother. I have to admit, the signs were really flimsy and I’m not surprised that folks missed them. This must be a cash cow for the city and tow trucks. After each vehicle was hooked up, there were officers writing citations before they drove them off.

After hearing about what neighbors had to deal with during Carnaval, you have to wonder why there is not more outcry against the city’s unreasonable actions towards Mission residents during public events.

26 Responses to “Sunday Streets Wrap-up”

  1. Laura says:

    Those signs were ridiculous, flimsy and hard to read and when did they even go up?? Saturday? my car was towed at 2 am! when i came out on sunday morning at 9 am, it was long gone and there were maybe 5 people on the street setting up for Sunday Streets…none of them actually IN the street, there was no need to tow cars that early. Oh and yeah, they decided just’cause to use a flatbed tow truck for my car and charged me an extra $50 for that. Oh and a $50 ticket too on top of the $70 city “processing” fee? When all is said and done, it cost me $400.

    I don’t know…what do events like this do for the community other than bring white people from other areas of the city together to ride around in circles? I left the suburbs so I would have to deal with street fairs. Carnaval I accept because it’s a part of the history of the community but Sunday Streets? Just seems like a way for the city to waste even more money that could be put toward valuable community services we so desparately need, especially in the mission. Oh also, I saw two different families getting out of their CARS with bikes. They drove over to participate. I don’t know.

    I feel like old man willis over here but I just don’t get it. Maybe other people can tell me why they like it and I can begin to understand. I am also hella bitter about my car being towed.

  2. Matt says:

    Ha, yeah, I got towed for Carnaval. I parked there one day, next day they put up the “no parking” signs, next day they towed my car. I guess you have to check every 24 hours to make sure they haven’t put up a “no parking” sign? I was out of town for 2 days.

  3. mattymatt says:

    I’m not super-sympathetic about this. Yeah it sucks to have your car towed, but it’s no surprise that that’s just part of owning a car in a city. (Just like repairs, insurance, gas, and a billion other little automotive expenses.)

    Car ownership in a city is super-expensive and super-inconvenient, but nobody’s forcing it on you. If you’ve simply gotta drive, you could always move to Concord.

  4. Matt says:

    Huh. I no longer own a car (that was last year’s Carnaval), but I still think the city should try to be at least slightly fair to car-owners. Yes, tow people in no-parking zones– but don’t just put up a sign that says “no parking starting in… 10 minutes!” and then tow the car.

    There should be a requirement for a couple days’ notification, or else it’s just asking for abuse. Would you really be surprised if they put up signs intentionally late to grab some extra cash?

  5. Laura says:

    mattymat – i knew someone would bust out the “fuck cars/move to concord!” when that isn’t even what we’re talking about. we’re talking about the city towing cars in a shady, shitty way.

    and oh yeah, some of us use cars to transport shelter dogs and volunteers and for our job(s that we desperately need to hold onto). Some people find it cheaper to live in big houses in the city with family and/or friends and rely on cars (or the cars of their friends and family members, you’ve never bummed a ride?) to take them to jobs. Yeah, there needs to be fewer cars in SF and cities should be planned around public transportation and other forms of transportation that aren’t automative (and SF isn’t at this time and I hope that changes soon and we need lots of people working on making that happen because then less people would rely on their cars) but that doesn’t totally excuse the shittiness of getting your car towed with little warning at 1 am on a Sunday.

    also, what the fuck is up with the storage fee that autoreturn charges? Towing at 1-2 am means that getting to autoreturn by 5-6 am is the only way to avoid the additional $43.00 they charge you after your first FOUR hours of storage. UGh such a rip. Heaven forbid you wait a full day, then it’s $51 plus $43 and $51 each day after that. Oh plus the $23 fee they charge you when they move lots. You see why a lot of poor families in this area can’t ever get the car that they really badly need back once it’s been towed.

  6. mattymatt says:

    Yeah it’s a shitty way to tow cars. It would be nice if they gave people more notice. It would also be nice if the city planted daffodils on every corner, but what can you do? There are only so many people, dollars, and minutes in the day; and if they have to cut corners, better this than something else.

    Of all of the services that people want the city to provide, I just don’t think that “avoiding any inconvenience to people who decide to own cars” should be a top priority. This city has adequate transit plus car-sharing; and if that still isn’t convenient enough, there’s other places people can live.

  7. Matt says:

    Seriously? That felt well-reasoned enough to press the “submit comment” button?

  8. codesmith says:

    Sorry to hear about the car-towage but I saw the no parking signs on Thursday. Sunday Streets in Mission is happening again on July 19th so if you park your car on the street be sure to make a note.

  9. SFDoggy says:

    @MattyMatt: Sorry not screwing car owners is not a “service”, it is treating people with respect and treating them fairly.

    Unfortunately, the anti-car fanatics in this City are unwilling to give any respect or consideration to car owners. The attitude seems to be that anything that screws car owners is fine, and possibly a good thing.

    The fact is that public transport in the City is lousy except for getting into the FiDi from certain neighborhoods. Cars are vital for many people and, in particular, for families (since we don’t have neighborhood schools).

    Frankly, if you don’t like the cars in the City, maybe you should move somewhere else. As you are apparently unaware, a majority of the households in the City have cars.

    I am happy to work with people to support public transport, cars, pedestrian friendly streets etc. But the sheer hostility that I feel (from people like you) when I suggest that there a ways that those can be done without completely inconveniencing car owners makes me wonder why I bother reaching out.

  10. mattymatt says:

    Look I’m not saying that car owners should be deliberately screwed. It would be great if someone could go door-to-door, warning people about tow zones. But there’s only so much money and people and time, and it’s better spent on other stuff.

    In a high-density environment like SF, every car is a burden. I’ve lived in LA, and it sucks to have freeways and parking lots for next-door neighbors.

    I get that transit here is unreliable, and that some people need cars because of decisions that they’ve made about where they work or about having a family. I live with a guy who works at multiple hospitals all over the bay area and he can’t rely on transit — fine. But if you’re determined to live in the city AND own a car, I don’t think you can expect to be catered to, or even be surprised when it’s inconvenient.

    It’s the same with smokers, or people with big dogs who need giant parks to run around in, or people (like me) who moved here to work in the film industry. If you opt into an environment that can’t support very many of you, you’re going to be at the bottom of the list when it comes to budgeting resources.

  11. mike says:

    If you get your car towed during a special event, do some research and take pictures. I once got my motorcycle towed and was issued a corresponding parking citation for parking during a special event. I took photos of the temporary no parking signs put up for the event, and showed the DPT judge that the exceeded the maximum amount of space between signs, invalidating the towing and ticket fees. I didn’t get my time back, however, and the city (via our taxes) probably footed the towing bill, so it’s not a completely happy ending.

  12. dogfella says:

    codesmith is right. the signs were up days before the event all over the place, impossible to miss.

  13. guero says:

    Well first off, after attending Sunday on the Streets, I think the event without an doubt was a success and my 9 year-old son says he hopes they do it again soon. As for the tow trucks, I think the problem on our block was that PG&E has been doing work and closing off parking from 7am to 5pm every weekday for the last 2 weeks (and there is still two more to go).The signs for that are much more prominent. I think some may have seen the smaller signs for the event and just associated them with the larger PG&E ones and didn’t bother reading them.
    I actually know the head organizer as he is an old school mate of mine and a former Mission kid himself. I said something about this on Facebook and this was his response:
    “full public outreach – public meetings, flyers, posters to all merchants flyers at all churches, flyers on all cars for the past week along the route, email blasts, notices in newspapers, etc! Truly a successful event!”

    I can’t say that we received the flyers, as we aren’t allowed to park on our own block most of the time due to PG&E, but I guess the organizers did as much as they could (Signs could have been a little bigger though,instead of those small paper diamond ones). But I will also say that $400 is way too excessive to have your car towed.

  14. c streets says:

    what up! i’m a volunteer for this event, and part of my training was to take it to the streets on three occasions in which we set out on foot to flyer cars about the towing — in both english and spanish. we went out last monday, wednesday AND saturday before the event to flyer cars on and AROUND the route. moreover, official towing signs were put up on thursday and then again on saturday.

    sunday streets is amazing. it encourages healthy lifestyles. and all those ‘white’ people that you may be complaining about, laura, hella helped out the neighborhood shops. as a kid born and raised in the mission, i loved this event, and was so happy to see it come to my hood.

  15. erikakali says:

    I got my car towed on Easter Sunday because of the Sexy Jesus contest. Being new to the area, I parked my car on Dolores on Wednesday afternoon. Easter Sunday I came out to find my car missing.

    Since it was towed by SFPD, I had to go to the station to get it released from police custody. The officer I talked to agreed with me that it is a completely unfair practice to have the city only be required to post those flimsy signs 3 days in advance before any festival. It should be at least a week prior so in case people go out of town/only move their cars for street cleaning get enough warning to avoid the hassle of a $400 ticket.

    I think that street fairs and all the festivals/parties/whatever are great, but give the people a little more notice before towing our cars!

  16. turtles says:

    I saw signs at least a week in advance all over the mission on every single parking meter and light pole. There were green flyers on cars all over. The fact that Miss Miss chose to cover the complaints of a few scofflaw motorists to find ‘controversy’ instead of talk about a really great community event in our neighborhood is rather unfortunate.

  17. Evan says:

    I got towed for sexy Jesus and was pretty pissed about it, but I’ve come to expect getting towed once a year in the city.
    Previous posters complain that they can notify everyone in person, and its true, but we live in the computer age. I’ve never understood why the city doesn’t implement a text messaging system for cars about to be towed. The parking department takes your phone number when you pay citations online, so surely they have a DB of phone and License plate numbers. Parking Enforcers could go through areas that are about to get massed towed, or cars that get 3-day notices, and send automated text messages/email saying your car is identified as being towed soon. Seems low cost to implement and would almost entirely negate bad feelings.

    As for the Sunday Streets, I thought it was cooler in idea than execution. I was hoping for street stalls ect, but I guess the event was too short for that. Instead it looked like a bike marathon. You could tell the kids were excited to play in the forbidden street spaces; but when I get worried about stepping into the street for fear of getting hit by a bike then we sorta just replaced one hazard with another.

    • Matt says:

      “As for the Sunday Streets, I thought it was cooler in idea than execution. I was hoping for street stalls ect, but I guess the event was too short for that.”

      Definitely– I was a bit puzzled it was only 10-2, but I guess it was traffic reasons or something? I understand you want to run some trials at first, but I hope they work up to a longer event.

  18. tea says:

    The mere invocation by some commenters of the term “anti-car fanatic” demonstrates just how in favor of cars everything is skewed. If you’re in favor of livable, pleasant streets, then all of a sudden you’re an anti-car fanatic. In fact city streets were never meant to be free storage space for your property. Car owners just behave that way.

    BTW — I volunteer for animal organizations as well, and work a hard and stressful job on the side. All the while, I’m not parking my car where there are signs that I shouldn’t be parking it there.

    Stop whining and deal with it.

    • zinzin says:

      i actually think the notion that “city streets were never meant to be free storage space for your property” is in fact a little fanatical – parking is generally not free (meters, neighborhood permits, city fees on registration etc), and at the bottom line, people in the states love having cars. that’s just the reality.

      just look around you, LOADS of cars, with one person in each car. do i think it’s a good thing? meh. not really. but is it the truth? yeah it is. nearly 500K registered vehicles in SF (2009). well over 500K licensed drivers (it was 491K in 1996, 12 years ago).

      and the cars have to go somewhere. parking spots on the streets seem a logical spot for them.

      that said, i do agree with the “Stop whining and deal with it” notion. for both drivers and non-drivers.

  19. Susan says:

    Sunday Streets organizer responds:
    Thank you for Mission Mission’s coverage of Sunday Streets, and thank you all for your feedback on our June 7 event in the Mission District. We’ll be taking this into account as we plan for the July 19 event.

    On Parking and towing:
    The PD ran the plates of each car before they had it towed, and if the address was nearby, they went to the house and asked the owner to move their car. Signs were posted at least 72 hours in advance, placed every 20 feet along the entire route. Additional 4 ft x 4 ft signs were posted along the route 10 days in advance.

    City Parking code specifically prohibits parking for more than 72 hours (article 10.2.6), which is probably why we are required to post signs for at least 72 hours.

    Outreach: We did what we could with virtually no funding for marketing- fliers on cars, posters in shops, emails to neighborhood lists, etc. but understand this effort did not reach everyone in the neighborhood. Our media outreach for this event was lighter than previous events because we were concerned that if we did TOO much publicity, the event would have been beyond capacity. It is a delicate balance. We are ramping up our local outreach to the neighborhood for July 19.

    Who covers event costs: Sunday Streets costs are underwritten by our generous corporate and community sponsors. Additional in-kind support and our tremendous volunteers keep costs down.

    Finally, the hours of 10:00 am to 2:00 pm are to accommodate the demand for the streets- traffic significantly increases on Sunday afternoons, which is why we have the events on Sunday mornings, when traffic is the lightest.

    Thanks again for the great dialogue and for the support of Sunday Streets.

  20. mattymatt says:

    Thanks, Susan, for all the info. It sounds like you did a lot to accommodate car owners: going door-to-door, putting out signs, and shutting down the entire event early so that cars could take over the street again.

    Now, imagine if Sunday Streets didn’t have to do some much for cars — if the volunteers could spend their time on other things, and the festival could go on all day long. It sure would be nice.

    Like I’ve said — when an event like Sunday Streets is forced to go to great lengths to accommodate cars, ever car is a burden.

  21. jimbeam says:

    I don’t like cars, don’t own one, etc., but come on. A lot of people use cars because it’s how they get to work. California (yes, even the much vaunted liberal paradise that is the Bay Area) is designed in such a way that the cheapest, most efficient way for people to go to work is via automobile (not to mention dropping kids off at school, etc. etc. etc.).

    It’s just silly to talk about all streets having no cars. And, as Zizin pointed out, cars are paid for. Cars actually subsidize SF city programs through parking tickets (something like $30M was collected in 2007 from parking tickets).

    Advocating for NO cars makes way less sense than advocating for smarter car use and better city planning when it comes to public transport and bike lanes and just garbles the message with extremism.

  22. mattymatt says:

    I don’t think anyone’s advocating for no cars on any streets — just putting them a little bit lower on our list of city priorities.

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