Neighbor's parking job is making it hard to enter/exit my garage spot
January 20, 2015 12:25 PM   Subscribe

My neighbor parks his car in such a way that it often partially blocks my garage spot. I've been trying to live with it but it's getting harder and harder to maneuver around him. He's been involved in other fights over parking already, so how do I deal with this without starting a feud? Snowflake details inside.

I live in a 12-unit apartment building in San Francisco. Each unit in my building is assigned one private garage spot. On top of that, we have free (non-permit) parking all along the block across the street from our building. There are no buildings on that side of the street so there are no driveway/curb restrictions, which means lots of available parking! This is rare for SF, so you'd think things would be peachy keen, no?

Unfortunately, one of our neighbors has taken to parking right in front of our building entrance. The front of his car starts at the curb right out front, then he completely blocks off one of the garage/carport spots (which I'm assuming is his; it's always empty), and often sticks out a bit in front of my own garage spot. It typically hasn't been much of a problem, but over the past month or two his parking position has been inching further back, to the point where now I need to do some pretty precise & scary maneuvers to avoid hitting him (or anything else) when I back my car out. The carport entrance isn't much wider than my car so I don't really have a lot of wiggle room. This morning was the worst it's ever been. If he was parked *any* further back, I would have been effectively blocked in.

(To make this a little easier to visualize, I've drawn up a crude MS Paint diagram.)

I've tried to be accommodating for as long as I can but it's obvious that the next course of action is to talk to him. But I'm worried about it for a couple of reasons. First off, while I know he lives in my building, I'm not sure which unit he lives in, so I can't knock on his door and speak with him directly. I'm thinking about leaving a (carefully-worded!) note on his windshield, but I'm worried that no matter how friendly and benign I make the note, he'll see it as passive aggressive. Same story if I go over his head and complain to the landlord. Which brings me to the second reason -- I haven't had much direct interaction with him, but he doesn't seem like a very nice person and he's already been involved in other parking conflicts. A few months ago there was some sort of issue between him and another neighbor who also parks his car in front of the building, which escalated to the point where the cops had to intervene. I don't know details or who the aggressor was in that situation, to be fair. But I really don't want something similar to happen to me.

I don't want to start a war with this guy, but I'd really love to go back to being able to easily get in and out of my parking spot. Short of completely wimping out and parking my car on the street, is there a way I can handle this while keeping the peace?
posted by darkchocolatepyramid to Human Relations (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You also might want to get the other meighbor's side of the story.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:30 PM on January 20, 2015

Leave a note on his car saying something to the effect of:

"Hi Neighbor! I am DarkChocolatePyramid and I live in Apartment A1. I have a concern I need to talk to you about as soon as possible. Please call me at (555) 555-5555.. or knock on my door any time after 6pm."

repeat three times. If he doesn't call you or knock, escalate it to the landlord.
posted by royalsong at 12:31 PM on January 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think a note reminding him that you use your spot daily is a good first step.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "Hi, I'm DCP in Apartment MF. You probably didn't realise it, but your car is blocking the exit from my garage, do you think you could park a little further to the [N/S/E/W]? I don't want to accidentally hit you. Thank you so much."

Your step if he ignores this is either to call your landlord or whoever is responsible for parking enforcement in the city.
posted by jeather at 12:36 PM on January 20, 2015 [37 favorites]

You have been more accommodating then I would have been, I think it's time to escalate. Normally, you would begin with a polite conversation with him. So go to office/management and ask for advice. They will likely tell you to talk directly to him. At this point you can say you don't know his unit. If they tell you his info then I think you need to knock and ask for room at least two times. Unless he is aggressive, in which case I would report back to management. Do not assume he is always aggressive, you don't know the other story, so make no assumptions. Begin with a calm request and see what happens. I would not be willing to lose my space over this.
posted by dawg-proud at 12:38 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

In the drawing, is there a sidewalk that separates the back of your car from the parallel-parking job he's doing? If you took some yellow caution tape and a cone, and demarcated the lefthand edge of your parking spot out to the curb, would that block pedestrian traffic? Or forget the tape and just put a cone at the corner of the garage and one at the curb and let him draw the line between them?
Although this doesn't involve words, I'd consider it more passive-aggressive than a note, in that you're not even inviting him to discuss or telling him who you are, you're just using cones to claim your space. But it is pretty darn anonymous.
posted by aimedwander at 12:38 PM on January 20, 2015

Ah, parking in SF--what fun. I do not miss it at all. You want to be the better person here--because we all want to be the better person, right? So, perhaps call the landlord to find out which apartment he's in and try to have a face-to-face. If the landlord doesn't give you his apt number, then leaving a note asking to talk, might work.

If, the whole civilized conversation thing doesn't work, you do have the option of requesting that the SFMTA folks paint the curb edge red to indicate a "safe" amount of space to allow you access. If the drawing is somewhat accurate, it looks like there is really barely space enough for 1 car. As I said, last resort, but once you get the painting done (it can take several weeks to several months) you can call and have him towed if he encroaches on the red. Nuclear option, but all is fair in parking wars in SF.
posted by agatha_magatha at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2015

If this guy is as belligerent as you portray him to be, I wouldn't worry really too much about keeping the peace. It's not going to be kept. That's something you'll just have to live with if you want to resolve this conflict to your satisfaction.

You have a gift in your landlord as a third-party mediator, which is something most neighbors with similar conflicts don't have. Ask him/her to intercede. If your neighbor gives you a stink eye when he sees you, so what? Shrug it off.

I could see a windshield note as being another effective tactic. Frame it in your neighbor's self interest, as "I don't want to hurt your car." If a second note is necessary, you might have to escalate the matter in the careful wording as "I don't want to have to have your car towed so I can safely exit my spot." You could also take some colored masking tape and make a line to the area where your spot begins.
posted by Leontine at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

If he's blocking your garage why not call city parking/bylaw enforcement? Blocking a garage is not permitted on city streets.
posted by saradarlin at 12:47 PM on January 20, 2015 [12 favorites]

Yeah, call parking enforcement, early and often. A few tickets, and then a boot. That'll get the point across.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

Ask your landlord what you should do if there is a car parked on the curb that makes it hard for you to exit. You don't have to say which car it is, just that there is a car there and you are concerned about hitting it. You don't have to tell them it belongs to a tenant if you don't want to. If they want you to call the city, then go that route.
posted by soelo at 12:53 PM on January 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

A friend of mine has absolutely no qualms about having cars blocking her driveway towed.
posted by brujita at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you go the route of sending/leaving him a note, state at the bottom that you're cc'ing the landlord and actually do cc the landlord just so he/she is aware of the issue in the event you get no response from the neighbor.
posted by resurrexit at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I used to live in a neighborhood like this. I would leave the following note on his car "You are blocking my garage, please park further forward". Dont placate him, don't be nice or try to solve his parking problems and don't talk about hitting his car. Just a simple statement of fact. Date the note and take a photo. Send the photo to management with a question about what tow company to call if your garage door is blocked. If it is blocked, call the tow company. Dont engage with the crazy guy.
posted by fshgrl at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2015 [26 favorites]

I would suggest trying the note thing before the nuclear option of having the car towed, since you specifically stated that you wanted to resolve this peacefully. Second step is involving the landlord.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Its a-ok to get people towed in SF if they block your driveway, btw. Anyone who has lived there for more than 5 minutes knows not to do that. If the guy has mobility issues or something he needs to get the building to give him a special spot, not just park in front of your garage.
posted by fshgrl at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

Windshield notes have worked on most of my neighbors, save for one. The day she blocked my car in and I couldn't get to work (and she refused to answer a knock on her door) was the day I had her car towed, with no hesitations. She still parks like crap, but not in front of my house.
posted by vignettist at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

I understand why you don't want to anger this guy; I've got keying scratches on my own car because I refuse to leave our building's allegedly "secure" security doors propped open for my neighbors' kids' non-resident friends to come & go as they please.....

Whatever route you take (going through the landlord, note left on the car, screw it call parking enforcement), he is likely to at least be able to reasonably assume that the complaints originate from the owner of the car he's been blocking, so be prepared for that. No, I don't think that means you should just cave in and let him continue to block your access: just be aware that you won't be able to remain 100% anonymous. I'd start with the note, then upgrade to the landlord, saving towing as the last resort --- but yes, have him towed if need be.
posted by easily confused at 1:05 PM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

I got a note tucked up in my windshield wipers that used jeather's statement when I was (inadvertently) blocking my neighbor's spot in a similar way. I hadn't even noticed I was doing it, so I suspect that your person doesn't either. Next time I saw the neighbors who I was blocking, they brought it up and said thank you for being accommodating. That made me feel a lot better.
posted by holyrood at 1:32 PM on January 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

Is this guy's car there when you arrive to park? If not, consider backing into your space. Then, when you pull out you will have more control and a better ability to avoid hitting his car. Of course, this could be avoided if he was not in the way but it is another option.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

We live one block off of a commercial strip in an SF neighborhood. My partner has your issue pretty frequently, only without the benefit of knowing who the repeat offender is (instead, it's basically just a different car every day, someone looking for easy parking while shopping and not paying attention to overlapping driveways). We struggled with this for a long time before giving in to the realization that there's not a good way to deal with this other than calling 311. We even have a routine now: an hour before he needs to use the car, check to see if we're blocked, call 311 if necessary, wait.

If you could leave a note for your neighbor, that'd be a helpful step. I feel bad for people being punished for oversight issues, but when it comes down to it it's not your responsibility to be routinely inconvenienced for their convenience. (We've even had to just scrape/nudge by cars a few times and that didn't feel any better.)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:50 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get him ticketed and/or towed. That's what you get when you block a driveway, regardless of being a nice or mean person or any other contingencies.
posted by sacrifix at 1:58 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

You should find out what happened with the other neighbor. Is it possible he is trying to park further from the other neighbor and hasn't realized he's blocking you now?
You also say your spot is barely wider than your car. If his car is bigger maybe that's why he's not using his spot. If that's the case your landlord needs to find a solution to accommodate all of you.
posted by Promethea at 2:10 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't leave a note, that just identifies you as the target of his animus. Just start calling the city and towing him whenever he parks out there. Not necessarily whenever you need to get in and out, but every time he's blocking the carport (including just blocking his own space) call the city.

He'll stop and fast.

Also, SF regularly tows such vehicles even without a call from a resident, so it could easily be assumed to be not related to anything you're doing.
posted by arnicae at 2:18 PM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]

If you are unwilling to report it to the landlord directly, then absolutely, call the city.

Let the city explain to him why his care was ticketed or towed.

If this is happening on private property, then you should have your landlord intervene. This is why you pay them. Have the number for the appropriate tow agency ready in case you have to have the car towed to exit your garage in the future.

Take pictures every time this happens, even if you can get out just to document the frequency. Pass on a few of the pics to your landlord in an email with a request for them to handle this problem. Again, this is why you pay rent. Let the correct authority handle this.
posted by jbenben at 2:29 PM on January 20, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for their input, I really appreciate it! Before having him ticketed/towed, I want to first try and give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's just oblivious and doesn't realize he's blocking me in at all. I'm going to write up a note to the effect of "Hi, Your car is blocking my garage and making it difficult to enter and exit safely. Could you please move it forward a few inches? Thanks, your neighbor in [apartment number]". Hopefully it gets the point across in a direct, unemotional way without specifically mentioning not wanting to hit his car (which he could easily misinterpret as a veiled threat). If he ignores the note, I'll escalate to my landlord, and (if necessary) the city.
posted by darkchocolatepyramid at 2:43 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

If this person is really aggressive I would skip the note and call the city directly. The note identifies you while the city will just say, "don't park in front of driveways". If you leave a note, then call it's clearly your doing rather than just a random city patrol.
posted by saradarlin at 2:49 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

In SF I'm 99% sure it's always illegal to parallel park across a curb cut slash driveway entrance, even if it's his driveway.
posted by rhizome at 2:59 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Park your own car in front of your garage a few times, inches from his? Might remind him how much room he needs to leave.
posted by ctmf at 3:20 PM on January 20, 2015

Best answer: In SF I'm 99% sure it's always illegal to parallel park across a curb cut slash driveway entrance, even if it's his driveway

I thought so too, but it turns out it's a little more complicated. But in this case it is illegal. Here's what the SFMTA says:
Residents may park in front of their own driveway parallel to the curb or street, only if the vehicle’s license plate is registered to the building’s address, and if the building has two or fewer units. [emphasis added]
So you can just straight up call parking enforcement, with no warnings or anything. That might be politically easier than communicating with this person. You're a neighbor they can get mad at. Parking enforcement is a force of nature.
posted by aubilenon at 3:26 PM on January 20, 2015 [10 favorites]

If you choose to talk face-to-face with this person, please consider bringing a large friend with you. You might even imply that the large friend is a roommate.
posted by doctor tough love at 3:32 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: OK, in light of the new info about parking legality (thanks aubilenon!), I've reconsidered leaving a note. According to those constraints, anyone who parks on that side of the street is parking illegally (and there are a handful of people who do so). It might be safer to send a general note of concern/complaint to my landlord, as well as to SFMTA, and let them handle the whole block.
posted by darkchocolatepyramid at 3:41 PM on January 20, 2015 [8 favorites]

You can only send a general note to the SFMTA. In fact, all you really get to do is request parking enforcement for your street.
posted by rhizome at 3:52 PM on January 20, 2015

Could you put a pylon (traffic cone) right on the edge of the space next to the garage entrance with a sign that says "DO NOT BLOCK GARAGE ENTRANCE." The parking space would still be there, but the pylon would clearly dictate cars should not park beyond that space into the garage entrance. Maybe you can get your landlord's support on this. Maybe they have one of those heavy concrete ones you can't just knock over or move.

Also, if he isn't using his garage spot and his garage spot is less impacted by his street parking, maybe management will let you switch garage spots with him since he doesn't even use his (for whatever reason).
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:56 PM on January 20, 2015

Thanks to everyone for their input, I really appreciate it! Before having him ticketed/towed, I want to first try and give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's just oblivious and doesn't realize he's blocking me in at all.

Why are setting yourself for abuse like this? Just get him towed. Leaving a note just makes you a target; I cannot believe people are suggesting you leave your name and unit number.

Don't make excuses for him, of course he knows he's blocking your garage. Just have him towed.
posted by spaltavian at 9:56 AM on January 21, 2015

« Older How would you teach someone to properly use a...   |   Two PhD programs, each alike in dignity (maybe). Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.