Okay for Pedestrians to Occupy and Hold Parking Spots?

Mission Mission reader Scott B. writes in with a question for the community:

I saw a spot in front of the Baby Blue Rib restaurant on Mission, a young women was in the spot looking at her cell phone, she did not seem to notice me, so I lightly honked my horn. She looked up from her cellphone and said she was holding the spot and someone would be there soon. I pulled up next to her and told her people can’t hold spots, they are for cars. She repeated that she was holding it for someone who was coming soon.

I knew there were not many spots around, so I got annoyed and said “Whatever” and waved my hand dismissively frustration and then drove away. I don’t know what is more annoying, holding a spot or when the person standing in the spot tries to ignore cars like they don’t exist; WTF, like I am supposed to assume that someone standing in a spot means they are holding and I should just keep looking? As Yahoo Answers said, unless you have a license plate on your ass, move out of the spot.

I also read online about someone who got stabbed to death in San Francisco in front of a club, he was holding a spot, a fight broke out and he got stabbed after the fight.

I’m probably not the most sympathetic person to ask about this, as I’m fairly conditioned to respond with “FUCK CARS” to any question about automotive habitat or entitlement.  So, just for fun, and since I do notice this happening on Valencia all the time but realize that Yahoo Answers might not be the most trustworthy source of information, allow me to pose the question to you, faithful readers.  Have at it!

[Photo by p200eric]

72 Responses to “Okay for Pedestrians to Occupy and Hold Parking Spots?”

  1. William says:

    Well, my first thought is: fuck cars.

    Once I get past that, I think it’s reasonable for a person to hold a spot. If the person were in a car they could hold it for their pal. So what’s wrong with them holding it with just their body? Other than that you want the space, of course.

    But mainly, fuck cars, and fuck the people who think they’re entitled to publicly owned and subsidized parking. You want a space, go find a private garage.

    • Mary says:

      It’s illegal dumbass. if a pedestrian is on an unmarked sidewalk or crosswalk, they need to yield to all vehicles.

  2. Anon says:

    I have a car + a bike and use both as equally as often in the City, since my job requires driving. That being said, I find this pretty obnoxious. Public spots are first come, first served. This kind of stuff upsets traffic flow and worsens congestion. If your car isn’t there yet, it doesn’t need a parking space. Who knows how long these clowns are gonna take? Sure we’ve all been temped, but seriously, it’s lame.

  3. liberty says:

    I agree. Public parking spots are first come, first serve. It’s rude to hold a spot for a friend; I got there first with my car, I drove around in circles for forever looking for any open spot (and not holding out the for sweet spot), and I got there first. Your friend should play by the same rules.

    Is there anything one can do, other than risk getting stabbed? Will calling DPT or the police do anything?

    • booly says:

      When seconds count, the [police, DPT] are minutes away…

    • TheThinkingMan says:

      But what If you drove around for hours, saw a parking spot on the other side of the road and asked your passenger to get out and hold it while you maneuver the ridiculous streets to go the other way because there are no u turns?

      • Sparky2000 says:

        I think that this is OK if the car is there and just maneuvering to park. Different story if the vehicle is not in view, eg: “they’re on their way”. Conversely, it is a dick move to swoop into a spot that another person is positioning to park in (ala Seinfeld- where one driver is properly backing into a spot and another driver noses into the spot).

  4. swill says:

    Sidewalks are for people. Roads are for bike and cars.

    If the person holding the spot was on a bike? Cool. Nice find. Standing there like a douchebag on the phone calling a friend to come get the space? Watch your toes, I’m coming in.

  5. pat says:

    As long as it’s “on the way” is it such a big deal… you wouldn’t hold a spot for your own friend on the way?

    How about waiting for a table at a restaurant, and seeing people who aren’t bolting down their food and leaping out of the way for you. Or “holding a spot in line” for a friend at a show. A little annoying, sure, but it seems like a 2-way street.

    Would this create any more traffic? Seems like same driving- you circle for a spot while they go A-B, or they circle.

    Does car ownership really have to make people this impatient?

    I’d give a little more priority if it’s someone working or delivering vs. someone on a leisure trip to a restaurant. Otherwise, not a big deal.

    • booly says:

      Your restaurant analogy doesn’t really hold up. There’s usually a line and a matre’d (sp?) handling seating. There’s no such coordination with public street parking. Cars have to move on the street, they can’t (legally) sit somewhere and wait for a spot to open up.

      Someday there probably will be some electronic parking matre’d system, where you go to a fancy/hip/trendy neighborhood, wait in line in your car in a “waiting zone”, and get a text alert when your parking space is ready. But not yet.

    • Kitty Katt says:

      I have been in line and found others holding a spot for a friend. I have done so myself whenever asked to. It’s respectable and as said, a bit annoying, but YOU MOVE ON!!!!! Not sock someone out and put them in a coma!!!!

  6. Interlard says:

    The answer is: cars make people angry. Leave the car at home and be a person.

    • Internet guy says:

      You know what else makes me angry? Having to take public transit in the bay area.

  7. safetycut says:

    I don’t like it when people save spots. However, if someone is saving a spot for a friend, you didn’t get there first. Go make some friends that don’t have anything better to do than stand in a parking space.

    And is the bus really that bad? I’d recommend a bike but every time I go to little star pizza it gets stolen…or some part of it does. That’s annoying.

  8. Hell no. I don’t even understand the process that one’s mind would go through to arrive at the conclusion that something other than a vehicle can “claim” a spot for a vehicle. It the driver wanted the spot, they shoulda got there quicker.

  9. chris says:

    Parking in this city is one of the most difficult tasks ever conceived by man. No car, no spot, no exceptions.

  10. Concerned Guajolote says:

    Technically you are allowed to take a parking place without a car but only if you have a lawn chair. If the guy had said, Excuse me miss, you can’t hold that spot without a car, and she had said, I’m sorry, I forgot my lawn chair, but I’m holding this for my friend who is travelling with a 2-month-old, then this guy could have moved on and found another place with no bad taste in his mouth.

    Also, for all the car skeptics, keep in mind that there are a few scenarios where they are very convenient, for example:

    you live in a place with no functional public transit, such as San Francisco

    you live somewhere with awful, unpredictable wet and freezing weather

    you have a job that you have to get to (on time.) also if you live in a city that is actually a picturesque bedroom community/lifestyle destination for people with highly remunerative jobs in San Mateo County.

    you have kids who you don’t want to get tuberculosis/stabbed on the bus.

    • what says:

      Can I vote this as the best Yahoo answer? This is clearly the correct answer.

    • Rod says:

      i recommend if you are afraid of everything in life you move to a mellower place. thousands of people, children and old ladies even get over their fear and paranoia and survive without cars and get where they need to go.

      • Concerned Guajolote says:

        We need a whole new category of logical fallacies for the comments thread of missionmission. We’ve all heard about the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_repetition"argumentum ad nauseam, and the argumentum ad hominem. We need to add:

        The argumentum ad relocation: if you don’t like bumshit on your doorway, why don’t you move to Fairfield?????

        The argumentum ad early-to-mid-nineties: we used to publish zines and there were shooting galleries in Dolores Park. And we didn’t need iPhones, either, so why should yuppies go to nice restaurants on Valencia????

        The argumentum ad latinoamerica: My neighbors are from Michoacan and there are 14 of them in a 2 bedroom and none of the grandkids can afford rent in the Mission. I pay $1000 for my room which none of them can afford, and I went to college which none of them can afford. Therefore, there is too much gentrification.

        The argumentum ad unemployability: In the 70′s unemployed artists could rent huge flats in the lower haight for $10 a month, which they could make by selling copies of situationist newspapers. Until we can return to this state of affairs, we need a moratorium on market-rate housing.

        argumentum ad intergenerational-san-franciscanness: What was your grandpa’s favorite golf course in San Francisco? Oh, was he from Shanghai? Mexico? Oh, you mean your’re one of those post-college newbie fuckwads whose opinions would pollute my asshole if I wiped it with them?

        For (a true) example:

        Moving out of the city my great-grandmother came to on her way to a teaching job in Alaska would prevent me from getting tuberculosis on Muni, but so would continuing to drive my awesome car. And my cousin tested positive for tuberculosis that she probably got exposed to on Muni. Also, I have been stabbed, it is definitely something to be afraid of. I work sometimes with a ludicrously strong Nicaraguan guy, who commutes by bike and can carry a bathtub up 3 flights of stairs. He doesn’t go out alone at night in his particularly shitty corner of the Mission, and I’m pretty sure he’s killed people. I did used to take Muni all the time, in the early to mid nineties, even to golf at Lincoln Park, where I got the nickname “The Bus”. What was your grandpa’s favorite golf course in the city?…. Etc etc.

  11. afroblanco says:

    No, it’s not okay. It’s also not okay for somebody to hold more than one seat at a movie theater.

    Honestly, I wish people were challenged on this crap more often. Who the hell gave these people the right to hold spots?

    (BTW, for the record, I neither drive or own a car. I just get pissed off when people act like something in the public space is their property)

    • johnny says:

      let me make an analogy: how many times have you been in line at a coffee shop, bar or restaurant in which you have to order at the counter, when a couple or group comes in behind you, one of them gets in line and the other goes and grabs the table you were going to sit at? infuriating and not ok. just because i don’t have a helper monkey to grab space, i’m second class? and the “don’t drive a car” remarks are obviously avoiding the question.

      • Amy says:

        it’s not a class thing, but unfortunate and very annoying when “helper monkeys” nab something you’ve been eying.

        I’ve felt compelled to hold a parking space by standing in it (when the driver passes the spot and can’t safely reverse to grab it), but shame has generally prevented me from going through with it. I don’t know whether it’s illegal or even immoral, but it’s something people should only do out of desperation (and still feel some shame over).

      • Jojo says:

        That’s when you skip the line, set up camp at a table, spread out some not likely to get stolen stuff like a book and a coat or sweater to claim “your” space and then get in line or just marinate at “your” table till the line gets shorter. Its not rocket science. No helper monkey required.

    • Hk says:

      You hate when the public uses the public space as their own?
      Well i hate when you use your toilet to take a dump, but i dont kick your door in and throw you off it.
      If your in a spot waiting for a car, awesome, its public space and were the public, people should be less selfish about some dirty asphalt

  12. suckerpunch says:

    Of course its not OK for a pedestrian to save a parking spot. I don’t see how this is even a valid question.
    It was nice of the frustrated parker to move on, but they were by no means required to do so.

    Sorry, parking spaces are first come, first serve (even if you are anti-automobile doesn’t change that fact)

  13. Sonya says:

    I live here and drive here, but I’ve never asked for someone to save a space. When I see someone doing this (most recently at Trader Joe’s) I feel sorry for the space-holder person, they often look awkward and forlorn – craning their head, looking for their circling car. That must be what the lawn chair is for, that and a book.

  14. Kate says:

    Not OK. Parking spots are to park you car. Not your ass.

  15. marcSFBC says:

    The SFBC, in supporting Park(ing) Day, cites the following code if anyone asks if occupying a space as a non-car is legal. The relevant codes are in 7.2 of SF Traffic Code:

    The most relevant is:

    (a) To Park a vehicle within the Downtown Core in any Parking Space controlled by a Parking Meter without immediately making advance payment for Parking by depositing lawful money of the United States into the Parking Meter assigned to the Parking Space, by prepaid
    parking card or by other authorized payment method, or to allow a vehicle within the Downtown Core to remain parked at any Parking Meter that indicates that time period for which payment was made has expired; (202.1.)

    (b) To Park a vehicle outside of the Downtown Core in any Parking Space controlled by a Parking Meter without immediately making advance payment for Parking by depositing lawful money of the United States
    into the Parking Meter assigned to the Parking Space, by prepaid parking card or by other authorized payment method, or to allow a vehicle outside of the Downtown Core to remain parked at any Parking Meter that indicates that time period for which payment was made has expired; (202)

    (Amended by Ord. 287-08, File No. 081340, App. 12/5/2008)

    So, had she not paid the meter already, yes– she doesn’t have a ‘right’ to it.

    But, by the law, that public space (which takes up over 41 Million Square Feet of our fair city)– isn’t just for objects with internal combustion engines.

  16. Eon says:

    Run the bitch over and park.

  17. DWG says:

    Stabbing is socially appropriate in this context.

    Sincerely yours,

  18. Rod says:

    i think the types of people who complain about this behavior are the types of people who don’t have many friends. those of us who have friends and want to hang out with them sometimes need to save parking spots, or seats at the movie or in the restaurant and sometimes have our friends do the same. as such i don’t see any problem with other people looking out for their own friends.

    • johnny says:

      this is exactly what i was talking about. you complain about this and the a-holes who do it immediately claim you don’t have any friends.

    • SFDoggy says:

      Saving spots at a movie or a restaurant is different; that allows you to hang out with your friends.

      Saving a parking spot doesn’t allow that — unless the plan is to make-out in the parked car.

      Unless there are special circumstances (like they need to park there so that they can move a grand piano from an apartment), it seems to me that the person with the car can just find a place once they actually get to the location.

    • Jojo says:

      I agree. I have friends and have saved and had spaces saved for me. And its annoying when I have to stand in line behind people who got there before me in any situation, be it coffee shop, bathroom, register but they got there first so I have to suck it up and deal. So do y’all.

    • Jer says:

      i have friends, but i also don’t send them out on a space-saving mission to scout for empty spaces every time we carpool so they can stand in the middle of the street like some orange street cone.

      unless you’re in a CAR saving a space for another CAR, it is NOT okay to stand on the road like a fool so that your friend can get a space when they get there. move along, space-scouting minion.

    • eddi says:

      Thats a stupid excuse. I wouldnt ask my friendds to do it in the first place .

  19. MrEricSir says:

    How about you get in that car and drive back to the East Bay?

  20. REA says:

    Not OK. But one time I got arrested for a similar incident and had to spend a night in jail. Lesson learned: Take mass trans.

  21. parker says:

    Morally: Not ok. If you have a 2 month old you don’t want to walk a few blocks with (??) then use your extra friend to help drop him off nearby before finding a parking spot on your own.

    Legally ok? as markSFBC showed the laws are debatable. So, you’d have a get a judge or jury to decide =) it’d be an immoral waste of time to do that!

  22. Joshua says:

    hasn’t anyone in here seen that thing where they pay for the meters and turn them into bbq spots, picnics, hot wheel race tracks? people need to lighten up here, i find myself saying excuse me, pardon me, whatever sort of polite remark a lot around this city, only to have people look at me like, whats the kid with the mohawk being polite for.

    too many people get sucked into their own world & forget that we’re all trying to exist in the same damn town.

    if someone is saving a spot for their friend, take it upon yourself to find another spot. as for people on this blog being perpetually angry & hiding anonymously . . . well that says a lot about you right there, doesn’t it. you passive aggressives should be ashamed.

  23. ZACK says:

    This happened to me one time when I was driving home on a Friday (i use bart to commute so spare me your green outrage) at around 6pm on Guerrero.
    I had to piss like a racehorse, I could pretty much taste it. I finally found a spot and this hippie chick jumps in front of my car going crazy about how they’re moving blah blah blah.
    I’ve moved in this city onto main streets more than 6 times, I’ve never needed a spot reserved, just double parked temporarily). Well, the girl was going apeshit because I just parked there. I told her that this is a residential neighborhood, i have a permit to park in this area. If you didn’t buy a permit to hold the space with the city, you can’t just stand there and claim the space.
    She got me back by keying my car well after I left.

    Another incident happened a couple of weeks ago, the dude said he was holding the space for his friend, I said sorry, but I need it now and he just left. No incident this time.

    If you can get someone to pass on a spot you’re standing in because they want to avoid a confrontation, good for you I guess. But you have no right to get all pissy when someone who pays for a neighbor hood parking spot parks there car.

  24. kwk says:

    Look up California Vehicle Code 21954(a), the part Pedestrians Outside Crosswalk:
    “Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

    In English that means it’s not legal, ok.

    • Rod says:

      i don’t think too many people are concerned with the actual letter of the law. there’s no law that you have to hold the door open for an old lady in a wheelchair, many people do it anyways.

  25. Some dirt bag motherfucker used his vehicle to battered me out of the parking spot I was holding for me wife, who was 1 block away.

    After asking if he saw me, He said yes, and sneered, “there are no savesies.”

    I asked him not to leave, as he had just hit me with his car, and I wanted to call the police. He threw down a business card on the hood of his car and told me to “do whatever the fuck you want, because I’m going home.” and walked away from his car, presumably towards home.

    So I called the cops. A hour and a half later, duchebag who used his vehicle as a battering ram was handcuffed in the back of a black and white, not for hit and run(accidental accident that he walked away from), but Felony vehicular assault (He new I was there and purposely hit me with his car). Fuck anybody who wants to use their cars as weapons, either against pedestrians, or bicyclists

    FYI, Dirtbag never even asked me to get out of the way. He just rammed into to me with the back of his car and pushed me out of the way. I would have probably given up the spot to him had he asked (I spend enough time looking for parking after work to be sympathetic to someone coming home after work). But ramming people with your car? Go to jail, asshole.

    • jenn says:

      YAY! Good for you!

      One thing that I think it is important to note in the “anti” responses here is that people are assuming that saving a spot is to get one “closest” to wherever you are going.

      In some neighborhoods – ANY spot is needed – and it could be that it was not safe for the driver of the vehicle to pull right into the spot (ie, across the street or on a one-way street). I think it is perfectly reasonable to save a spot and I have done so before.

      I once had someone threaten me with his vehicle – and he tried backing into the space so I hit the back of his car with my hand on the trunk lid. I told him that was the sound of my body hitting his car as he used his car as a weapon (it was summer, he had a convertible with the top down). I asked him if he wanted me to call the police – and just then my friend made it around the block (the street had a concrete divider) – and he had a BIG TRUCK – so he started pulling into the spot and little convertible got OUT of the way.

    • jack says:

      You are the dirtbag for holding the spot. Handcuffed you said? Was he actually charged and prosecuted for the crime? I bet not. People holding spots have been permanently injured. I would physically nudge you out of the spot. As far as I care, you jumped and vandal my car. Not only you will be injured, I would sue you.

    • Gunnar Rambo says:

      Why would a grown man stand in a parking space to “hold it”? Ridiculous .
      You cannot stand in any parking space & “save it” for someone else’s car. You are the douche bag. I would have bumped your arse too. And you stated that the driver didn’t even Ask you to Move? The person didn’t because it is universally understood that you were in the wrong& should have moved for the car.

  26. tk says:

    one cannot save a spot (ya know, i mean unless there is some serious reason). one cannot also run over the person saving the spot (as we can see from the previous comment). the solution is to wait parrallel to the spot in which the person is standing with the turn signal on. the person for whom the spot is “saved” will arrive and it will be a question of first come first served. the first driver has no obligation to forfit his position. that’s my take.

  27. SF D says:

    Honestly parking spot holder — you’re the doucehbag here and I feel for the guy who bumped you. Granted, he shouldn’t have hit a human being with his car, even if it was slightly. Also, I’m sure he was going slowly enough that it was more of a shock to you than anything that actually could have harmed you. Nonetheless..bad on him.

    However, you’re a dick. Parking spots are for the first car that shows up. The imperious assholes who insist on standing in them as though they have some right to it because they happened to walk by or walk ahead have NO right to hold a spot. None, zip, zilch. I ride a bicycle 80% of the time, but the 20% I drive, this makes me crazy. It’s no different than the homeless dudes who try to “hold spots and sell them”. Get the fuck out .. it’s a public fucking spot. Don’t be such a self-righteous douche! You were doing something patently obnoxious, and a guy got overly pissed off at you for it. Quit with the feigned righteous indignation already!!

    • jenn says:

      “Parking spots are for the first car that shows up.”

      Really? Where is that “rule” written?

      • lisa says:

        The rule is common sense and courtesy. Cars are either parked in or moving around parking spots. It’s dangerous to have someone standing in a spot where a car is needed to park.

        There is really no difference between a friend saving a spot and those homeless guys who try to sell the spots.

        Either way, it’s obnoxious and discourteous.

  28. I drive a car about once a week. All my commuting is bike or on foot. I have set up my life this way. But I have also moved West of the Mission because of some of you. The biker/ped people calling other people entitled is laughable. You are destroying our city with your entitlement. I HATE CARS, but I’m not a moving vehicle on my bike and don’t have to stop or follow traffic directions, etc.

    It’s pathetic. It’s not an us vs them mentality. We are all humans in different modes of transport. It’s ridiculous to be standoffish when real SF citizens want to find a middle ground or agreement.

    All you do is spit your snide self righteous regurgitated bullshit, and you are all cancers.

  29. The final post that makes this all moot:

    It’s not legal. code 21954 was the right call. Officer says so here:


    I had heard of people being arrested for standing in spots, but hadn’t found proof. That’s why I came here. And all I saw was why I am sad I can’t get further West than 47th.

  30. [...] gone round and round about the issue of a human body parking in a spot for a car (and it seems the debate has finally ended . . . ?) but what about a car parking squarely in an intersection, yet just along the outside of a human [...]

  31. sam says:

    no. if you pull that stunt, you and your friend are selfish illogical idiots who don’t deserve to be driving.

  32. chalkman says:

    I cry “Down with this sort of thing!”

  33. Missi says:

    I was at an event in a parking lot with PLENTY of parking. I stood in the closest available spot to our venue for my husband to park our van loaded with equipment. Would you believe 2 women in an SUV demanded that space just for the shade? I explained we need it to unload heavy equipment; he went back to get our van (parked about 1/2 mile away).

    There were tons of spaces 10 spaces away but no, they wanted my space. While carrying heavy equipment, I’m sorry, dear, but every step counts!

    The bitch tried to run me over.

  34. Giacobean says:

    One has to remember we live in a dog eat dog world. The guy who was frustrated with the person holding the spot should have blocked out the spot until the person gave up on it instead of crying about it online- grow some balls. That isn’t a class thing and has nothing to do with income just mindset. I live in a predominantly Jewish suburban area (a lot of entitlement gowing around and its contagious) give them an inch they’ll take a mile. With in reason and free from physical harm if a point needs to be made than simply make it! No use in walking off sucking your bottom lip. If It came to a post apocyliptical event and that parking space meant the gateway to your chances of having the last cup of good coffee on this earth you would have mowed that bitch down!

  35. Bruce says:

    Fuck Cars? Let me guess, your ride a bike yes? I have nothing against bikes but im willing to bet you are one that blows through stop signs rides on side walks. If not we’ll then im not sure why you have an animosity towards cars. You know what would be a good Idea? Making all people who plan to use their bikes on the road register their bikes, and attach a license plate. You fuckers use the roads and get away with shit that should get you killed, so why not pay to use the roads like everyone else? Not only that but whenever I catch you guys doing stupid shit on my dash cam I could turn it in to get you fined. As for people holding spots, fuck them, I will come back later and key their car.

    • whysosearious? says:

      Wtf is wrong with u? Ur gonna key their car? When u just said ur gonna get them fined? Arent u being as uncivilized as them as they were to u?

  36. john says:

    Police say that bumping someone standing in a space to save it is “assault with a deadly wapon” and illegal. This issue has been settled in a court of law. Both parties should be generous to the ther, which would solve the proble. Looking out for yourself at the expense of others is not likely to lead to happiness.

  37. whysosearious? says:

    Please answer me if u think is bad to hold a spot if my husband is literally in the same block reversing while I hold the spot. A lady almost drove her car on me even though she saw my husband reversing plus there was a parking in the car behing me -.-

    • troll says:

      Of course it is; it’s first come, first served for cars/vehicles, not people. Right or wrong, I don’t know why anyone would risk “reserving” spots like that. Unless you’re driving a beater and don’t care about your car getting screwed with, it doesn’t seem wise.