‘SF in a nutshell’: Couple fined $1,500 for parking in their driveway after nearly 40 years of doing so

In what appears to be an instance of bureaucratic excess if not a lack of common sense, San Francisco officials threatened to fine a couple $1,500-plus for illegally parking in their own driveway, a spot they’ve been using for nearly four decades.

The sudden notification, which was reportedly prompted by an anonymous complaint, came from the city’s Planning Department.

Longtime residents Judy and Ed Craine, who live on a steep hill, received the $1,542 ticket, for parking on a carport in front of their home in apparent violation of code.

The homeowners were further warned that $250 per each day could be tacked on if they failed to comply.

The couple, who have parked in front of their dwelling for 36 years, described the scenario as “wrong,” “unfair,” “crazy,” “startling,” and “surprising to say the least.”

Parking already comes at a premium in the congested and expensive city. “Why are you taking away something that has great utility not just for us and our neighbors in terms of more parking spaces?” Ed Craine asked rhetorically in an interview on ABC7 News in the Bay Area.

“And as far as they could tell, the space was used for parking since the house was built back in 1910,” the news outlet added.

Officials gave the couple an out by putting the burden of proof on them rather than the city. “We could be grandfathered in if we show them a historical photo that showed a car or a horse-drawn buggy in the carport,” Judy Craine explained about the potential waiver.

The Craines found a 1988 photo of their daughter standing next to a car on their car, which the city claimed wasn’t old enough.

After a painstaking online archival search, they eventually found a 1938 aerial photo of the neighborhood with what appeared to be a car or horse-and-buggy entering the driveway. The Planning Department dismissed that image as too blurry, however.

The couple has since moved their car and now parks their vehicle on the street. As a result, the city canceled the fines.

In an email to ABC7, Planning Department head Dan Snider reportedly wrote that “I recognize that the property owner is frustrated. I think I would feel the same way in their situation. 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.”

According to Snider, the regulation was enacted many years ago to prevent front yards from turning into parking lots.

Watch the report aired by ABC7:

Under the code, the Craines could, however, regain their parking spot by building a covered carport or garage in front of their home.

Many observers have concluded that this another instance of fundamentally misplaced priorities in the once-beautiful, now anything but, Democrat-controlled city.

It’s yet another municipality where leftist officials have presided over the rapid deterioration of the social fabric in the midst of violent crime, rampant homelessness, and open-air drug markets, among other things, all in disregard for the needs of law-abiding, taxpaying citizens.

With that in mind, here is a small sample of the reaction on Twitter:

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