In areas where parking gets tight on San Francisco’s residential streets, some homeowners take matters into their own hands and paint the curbs close to their driveway red.
To parkers, red says, “Do I really want a ticket?”
But fear not, say city officials: Unless the red paint is stamped with MTA, for San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency, or DPT, for the Department of Public Transportation, the red warning is illegal.
Parking officers will not ticket a car that is parked by an unstamped colored curb, according to Kristin Holland, public relations officer for the MTA. If the illegal paint job is reported to 311, the city will come out and paint the curb gray.
Parking next to a stamped red curb, however, will earn a driver a $90 ticket.
Unstamped red curbs are not difficult to find. One walk through the Mission District turned up five new examples — on Treat Avenue, Shotwell, San Jose Avenue and Valencia — and several with faded red paint.
Asked why they painted their own curbs, residents were unanimous: Someone else did it. One homeowner on Shotwell Street said that previous tenants had painted the curb.
Local businesses had a similar narrative: Employees pointed to superiors, or claimed innocence.
Take the kitchen equipment business Charyn Auctions, which has unstamped red curbs next to its driveway. Employees there argued that the curbs are actually legal because the driveway is too small for the Charyn trucks. “They might not be stamped but they are legal; nothing illegal here, my friend,” an employee said.
No stamp, however, means no city sanction. It’s not legal.
But painting your own driveway does save money.
To have the city paint your curb, you must pay a $144 application fee plus $22.30 per foot of paint. Add it up and the city’s charge to paint two feet of red curb around your entryway is about $180.
Even though it’s illegal for residents to do their own paint jobs, there is no enforcement mechanism for illegally painted curbs, said the MTA’s Holland.
As a result, there are no fees or punitive actions against those who illegally paint their own curbs.
The MTA urges residents who want red curbs to dial 311 and request them legally.
In the meantime: Drivers, do not fear the unstamped red curb.