Do police enforce parking rules on skinny hill streets?

Berkeley hills: a reader wonders whether ‘no parking’ signs are enforced in the area’s narrow streets. Photo: Google Maps

In response to our first installation of Ask Berkeleyside, in which we requested your questions about mysteries around town, we received this comment and query from a reader: “I’d like to report that signs with one-way arrows and the caption ‘No Parking at Any Time’ seem totally ineffectual on narrow streets in the Berkeley hills because, while they do inhibit the residents, non-resident cars and trucks park in them constantly, with impunity. Any advice? By the way, what are the penalties and conditions, if there are any?”

Noel Pinto, parking enforcement manager with the Berkeley Police Department, said via email that the fine for a “No Parking Any Time” violation is $64; on game days the fine is $95.

Pinto wrote: “Narrow street restrictions are in place to ensure that emergency vehicles have unrestricted access when responding to an emergency. The Department’s goal is to enforce these violations consistently. However, more often than not, officers do not find many violations when they drive by regularly.”

Pinto said officers tend to spend more time in neighborhoods where violations are “rampant.”

“Typically, the narrow street violations are enforced after a citizen calls the parking enforcement office to report the violation/s. It is the department’s intent to enforce the regulations as effectively as possible with the resources available on any given day.”

Pinto said residents can report these violations to the enforcement office Monday through Friday during business hours by phone, at 510-981-5890, or by calling the Berkeley Police dispatcher, 510-981-5900, during non-business hours, holidays and weekends.

If you see a mysterious sight around the city, or have a question you’d like Berkeleyside to dig into, please don’t hesitate to let us know via email at tips@berkeleyside.com.

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  • KRgard26

    Thank you Emilie. I am interested in why all of a sudden some years ago that everyone started parking on the wrong side of streets? Cars crossing over to park backwards. You don’t see it in Albany, Kensington, Oakland, SF. Makes Berkeley look ridiculous, not to mention unsafe. Maybe Chief Meehan can fix this practice since he is a man of action.

  • Winc

    The police do enforce as much as they are allowed / paid to do so. Although it seems city council wishes to block & hinder the BPD . For example Council member Jesse Arreguin, put forth two possible amendments to the RPP laws to potentially allow for out of city / state registered vehicles to gain RPP permits { see Oct 16 city council agenda items #12 & #13 }. Thereby increasing the automobile traffic to these beleaguered areas. Additionally Mr. Arreguin seeks to amend the 72 hour law so that vehicles could park in RPP areas without being towed / ticketed. As a narrow hill road residents we rely on Parking Enforcement to assist in the ticketing and removal of long term / non permitted vehicles. Parking Enforcement & BPD do the best job they can,  despite the constant undermining of their authority by members of the city council. If anything more enforcement officers should be hired to ensure the security of our streets. It is a huge safety issue for hill residents when these roads are blocked, resulting in tragedy: Recently one of our neighbors died due to the fact the roads were blocked and an EMT vehicle had difficulty getting this individual to the hospital. The Ambulance literally had to push cars out of the way because these vehicles were illegally & poorly parked.

  • guest

    In a word, NO.

  • Neil

    I lived on Tamalpais Road shortly after Loma Prieta.  Parking was allowed on both sides of the street.  Given earthquake dangers, parking should only be allowed on the downhill side of narrow streets so that everyone will be able to get out.   It will also allow emergency vehicles to get uphill faster.

  • Susan

    I almost got a ticket for parking a bit over the sidewalk while carrying groceries into the house. It is a flat service, the few pedestrians could easily walk around. As the officer began writing the ticket I asked why the cars parked on the other side of the street, completely covering the sidewalk, were not being ticketed I was told they were only dealing with my side of the street and mostly only giving warnings. It was totally inconsistent. 

  • guest17

     I would have fainted at the sight of a policeman near my house.

  • Jetierney

    I was traveling downhill from Grizzly Peak on Sunday, only to encounter many narrow side streets with cars on both sides of the street, making passage by a car nearly impossible. I can’t imagine how an emergency vehicle, such as a firetruck, could manage. Doesn’t anyone remember the hills fire?

  • Nick Taylor

     In surprise?

  • guest17

    In surprise.

    I cannot think of a polite way to characterize the claim below.  The only way it is possible is for police officers not to find numerous violations is for them not to drive by, which is exactly the case.  The word “regularly” does not belong in that sentence.

    “However, more often than not, officers do not find many violations when they drive by regularly.”

  • guest17

     Correction.

    The only way it is possible for police officers not to find numerous
    violations is for them not to drive by, which is exactly the case.

  • guest17

    Those who remember don’t park that way.  However, one can park reasonable only to have “the other guy” park in a way that blocks larger vehicle from accessing the street(s).  This, as others have observed, puts everyone in the area in danger including the driver who created the hazard.

  • Astra

    Oh please, is there truly nothing better to worry about than whether the Hill People are getting a better deal on parking?   Stop being a bunch of pinheads.

  • batard

    For what it’s worth we live on one of the twisty streets that’s a designated route for fire engines.  Consequently parking is only allowed on one side of the street, making it a precious commodity.  For the most part it’s okay, save for the occasional rental house and illegal granny unit.  Invariably the students renting those come with one, two three or five cars and f’ it up for the whole block.  Then I have to haul my three bags of groceries and toddler a block to my house, in the rain. 

  • emraguso

    It sounds to me like people are worried about safety, not about getting a better deal. 

  • guest17

    What seems to appear to you to be pin-headedness is an issue of health
    and safety to affected parties.  If even once you had to navigate a road
    that was blocked by vehicles pinching the road to such a narrow width
    that even a smallish vehicle can barely pass, you would grasp the
    seriousness of this issue.  There was recently a fire nearby that
    required 35 first responders – police and fire.  The primary building
    did not survive the fire; a building next to it was severely damaged. 
    If fire trucks had been delayed in accessing the area, more homes almost
    certainly would have been damaged and people and other living things
    endangered if not injured or killed as happened in the 1991 fire.

  • Hugen

     Same thing must have happened at Miller/Shasta, i.e. a home rented to persons each one with a car so that in the last three months there have been several vehicles, a pick up truck among them, parking on the uphill side of Miller right smack between “No Parking” signs.
    I wish the city would also paint the curb red (If one exists- which is not always the case in the hills) on top of having signs.
    BTW: I have not seen a police car patrol our area for a long – they must come at night ??  =)

  • blacklotus

     Perhaps instead of complaining via : anonymous handles on a blog , you might take five minutes and either call your local police station, email your city council member directly or call / email parking enforcement to alert them to your ” problem ” . I find that trying to better a situation by actually doing something goes a long way. Longer than spitting in the wind anyway.

    BPD is very receptive and they would probably try their best to patrol your area. The problem lies in the fact most ” beats ” which cover very large areas are staffed by only one officer or less. The City needs to hire more parking and police officers, to cover all areas of the city not just to handle parking but more serious crimes as well.

  • guest17

    “The City needs to hire more parking and police officers, to cover all
    areas of the city not just to handle parking but more serious crimes as
    well.”

    Presumably you have made this suggestion to “your local police station, [or] your city council member directly.”

    What was their response?

  • batard

    The armada of low-flying new helicopters surely would have blown out the flames.

  • Serkeleybide

    Illegally parking on the sidewalk does not seem to be enforced in the hills. I have called Berkeley parking enforcement several times to no effect.

  • Nick Taylor

    Perhaps you weren’t alive, don’t remember or weren’t living here during the Berkeley/Oakland Firestorm. There were 3,354 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominium units lost in this fire. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion. Twenty-five people lost their lives. Firetrucks could not reach areas of fire due to blocked roads. Residents could not exit due to blocked roads. When people park irresponsibly, they are not only make a choice for themselves, to take that risk, but also are making a choice for their neighbors, sometimes leading to devastating results. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RJl_RkfI-w

  • guest

     Of course.  Wind.  Just the thing to put out a fire.

  • Joeberry

    If people with garages in the hills would take the few extra minutes to park in them rather than on the narrow winding streets a lot of the problem would be solved since many of these houses do have garages, but the garages are at the end of driveways, not directly on the street. I live in the area and on a small windey (sp?) street myself. Safety should be paramount, of course, but demanding more police patrolling seems, in my view, not be the best solution. I think education and neighborhood discussion, convened initially perhaps by the emergency services themselves, (like the fire and rescue services) has a better chance of success.”Calling the cops” is the easiest thing to say, but it does not solve most neighborhood problems, whether parking or more serious ones. Neighborhood discussion and organizing does, if done in good faith and some patience.

    Joe Berry

  • batard

    In my experience calling Berkeley parking enforcement is a waste of time.  Usually they don’t answer the phone, you can leave a message but I have NEVER had them follow up.  Results if you get a human about about they same.  They will tell you happy things, then do nothing. 

    Flagging down a parking officer can be a really bizarre experience too (e.g. getting a fixit ticket signed off).  I had one pass me twice pretending she didn’t see me so I chased her and asked her why.  Basically she didn’t feel like stopping.   Another time I flagged one down and he was so ready for a confrontation it was bizarre.  I think there’s some really weird culture going on that the department, possibly a result of the hostility they experience (and have come to expect) as part of their job.

    Parking on the sidewalks in the hills is a tricky thing.  On the one hand you don’t want to get your street-side mirror smacked off (mine has been hit dozens of times, broken off four times).   On the other hand, block the sidewalk too much and a pissed off pedestrian will break your other mirror or bend your wiper (also happens).  In some places the best compromise is to put two wheels up on the curb but leave enough room to squeeze by.

  • Anonymous

     If I park in the garage where am I going to store all my stuff? Plus, my giant SUV doesn’t fit.

  • guest

     What Anonymous said.

  • blacklotus

     We contacted both our city council member Gordon Wozniak & Ofc. Jessyca Nabozny #118
    Area 2 Coordinator. They both responded positively to the needs of our neighborhood. Our issue was that Parking enforcement had seemed , much like you have described to have ” disappeared ” and were not issuing citations on our hilly streets. Within a day we began seeing regular patrols of our streets. Within a week we no longer had : abandoned vehicles, illegally parked vehicles and football traffic in the neighborhood. Officer Nabozny was unaware of the problems that were occurring in our district and all it took was a short email to make her / BPD aware of the situation. No amount of me sitting at home complaining would have solved anything. I am not sure which district you live within but it is very easy to contact your local city council member and seek their advisement. Or as I stated before contact BPD directly. Police officers seek the jobs they hold because they want to ” protect & serve ” , help them to help you. I hope you can make something work for your own neighborhood.

  • guest17

    “Perhaps instead of complaining via : anonymous handles on a blog , you
    might take five minutes and either call your local police station, email
    your city council member directly or call / email parking enforcement
    to alert them to your ” problem ” .”

    OK.  I tried to be subtle about this.  Now I will try being more direct.

    Since, as you noticed, I am not posting under a name that you would or would not recognize, you have absolutely no idea what I have or haven’t done with my ‘local police station’ or my ‘council member’ or anyone or anything else.  Why in the world, then, would you assume that what I have done is nothing?  Your assumption could not be more wrong.

    The comments that I post here stand on their own.  I participate in the hope some readers and the editors find them amusing, relevant, useful or interesting.  I intend to continue to post when I have comments on a particular subject or article without referring to actions that I have or haven’t taken to address the subject issue.

    Thank you.

  • blacklotus

    did you not ask “What was their response?”
    hence my reply.