World-Class Suckage in San Francisco

This post is dark and bitter: you have been warned. It was supposed to be cheerful, with wonderful pictures of San Franciscans enjoying the bonfires at Ocean Beach. Instead you’ll read about yet another kick in the seat of the pants. Sorry.

The city of San Francisco aggressively enforces the closure of the public parking lots at Ocean Beach. Okay, you say, at 3 am on a Saturday night? 2 am? No; get this: 10 pm!

That’s right, this “world class” city shuts down your ability to hang out at 10 pm. Shameful.

Three or four police cars cruising up and down the parking lot, threatening a $76 ticket for cars not moved. Great use of resources, but that’s not my point at this moment. We chatted with one of the officers (while his dog kept barking and smashing his face into the rear window; impressive). This is how the conversation went:

Me: You guys are shutting down the beach at 10 pm?

Officer: Oh, no. The beach is open. It’s the parking lot that’s closed.

Me: (trying to figure out why the parking lot needs to be closed, to save it for tomorrow?) Uh, okay, well, where can we park near-by?

Officer: I can’t really advise you on that. (Seeing my face of “uh, you can’t get help from a police officer these days”, he tried to help.) There’s no legal parking anywhere around here.

Me: So what you’re telling me, if I understand you, is that the beach is open, and my children and I may enjoy the bonfires, but we can’t park the care here, nor anywhere near-by, nor anywhere in this area at all?

Officer: Yep.

What a sad state of affairs. How low have we come when we have to deal with such a pointless Catch-22? What could possibly be in the public interest to close a parking lot at such an early hour?

It’s yet another thing which makes us look foolish, as a city. This is the best we can do? Sigh.

4 Comments so far

  1. mattymatt (unregistered) on August 28th, 2005 @ 11:10 am

    you can park next to golden gate park for free, 24 hours a day, with no time limit; there’s usually plenty of open spots by the beach because the people who live in that neighborhood are rich enough to afford parking garages of their own. why cops don’t mention that, and why they kick families out of the parking lot at 10pm is beyond me.
    of course, you could always use muni. reliable, convenient, predictable, always-on-time, great-in-bed muni.

  2. Rob (unregistered) on August 29th, 2005 @ 8:04 am

    I would guess that the parking lot curfew may have something to do with preventing beer-drinking, loitering, etc. by youths (who tend to congregate in parking lots). Yeah, there’s plenty of street parking around there. I think you were dealing with a careless cop, more than anything else. But I agree that SF has a long way to go toward attaining world class status.

  3. Sugam Jain (unregistered) on August 29th, 2005 @ 10:07 am


    Whats with your obsession with driving?! This is San Francisco, a city with excellent public transportation. Get over using your car for once. Perhaps a better idea than having the parking lots be open all the time would be to shut them down; rip up the pavement and make them parks! That would be a much better use of the space. Hey, and you were welcome to park there, it just costs $76, such is life. pay the man or dont drive.

  4. cd (unregistered) on August 29th, 2005 @ 11:24 am

    Lordy – Sugam you’re are sure one for the agressive pronouncements, aren’t you?

    As far as the post goes – I think those parking restrictions were designed to keep away the elements that would prevent the beach from being a family appropriate spot at night to begin with. Most public parking areas along parks or beaches are closed from sundown to sunrise, with those times sometimes being nailed down to something more concrete.

    To my memory, GGPark only forbids parking between 2am and 6am or so – but that may change depend on where you are in the park.

    I think the “take MUNI” response is kinda foolish since I think late-night MUNI is hardly appropriate for me, let alone a family with little kids.

    So it is a catch-22, but probably one designed to make the beach more family friendly, not less user-friendly generally.

    (and the powers that be probably figured the number of families there past 10 would be relatively small since little kids usually have earlier bedtimes – though it can really much with a fun family special occasion, as you found out).

    lastly – tearing out the parking lots would be economically foolish. see, all these nice things we like about the city – the parks, the beaches – take money to maintain. that money comes from city revenue, which comes, in large part, from sales tax. sales tax revenue is very much tied to tourism here in SF. so make it harder for the out-of-towners to enjoy the town, and you can guarantee there will be less town to enjoy.

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