A San Francisco couple has been banned from parking in front of their own home where they have lived for the last 36 years.
Ed and Judy Craine received a fine of $1,542 despite parking on their own property. They were also told it would cost them $250 a day if they didn’t move their car.
The couple told KGO that the San Francisco Planning Department sent the fine in accordance with a section of the city code that bans motor vehicles of all kinds from parking on a carpad in front of a house unless it has a garage or a cover.
“I wrote them back saying I thought this was a mistake,” Ms Craine told KGO.
“To all of a sudden to be told you can’t use something that we could use for years, it’s startling – inexplicable,” Mr Craine said.
The couple thinks the space in front of their house has been used for parking since it was built in 1910. The planning department told the couple that they would waive the fine if they could show that the space has been used for parking in the past.
The Craines found a photo of their daughter in front of the house showing a car in the space from 34 years ago, but city officials said the image was too recent.
Following extensive internet research, they found an aerial image from 1938 showing either a car or a horse and carriage pulling into the driveway. But the city still insisted this wasn’t good enough, saying that the image was too blurry and that it didn’t serve as clear evidence.
The Chief of Staff at the planning department, Dan Sider, told KGO that the city code was put in place decades ago on aesthetic grounds and that exceptions aren’t possible.
“I recognize that the property owner is frustrated. I think I would feel the same way in their situation,” Mr Sider told KGO in an email. “But the Planning Code doesn’t allow for the City to grandfather illegal uses on account of their having flown below the radar for a length of time.”
The planning department was made aware of the couple using the space as a parking spot by an anonymous complaint that was made against the Craines as well as two of their neighbours.
KGO reported that after the couple agreed not to park in the carpad, the planning department cancelled the fines.
The department has told the Craines that if they want to carry on parking in front of their house, they could build a cover for the space or a garage.