People Admit To Painting Curbs Red To Prevent Cars From Blocking Mailboxes, Driveways

Illegal red curbs exist randomly throughout San Diego and are usually hard to detect

Illegal red curbs exist randomly throughout San Diego and are usually hard to detect, according to traffic engineers with the City of San Diego; and the City does not have a master map showing where legal curbs exist.

NBC 7 Investigates spoke to San Diegans who admitted they painted curbs, themselves, illegally as a way to prevent cars from blocking their mailbox, driveway and view.

Curbs are painted the color red throughout the city to show where parking is off-limits. According to the city, curbs should only be painted by city engineers or a building contractor with proper permits.

Curbs painted red illegally, prevent the public from parking that should be accessible.

In one San Diego neighborhood, residents said illegally painted curbs are so prevalent employees at a local hardware store know exactly what kind of red paint to recommend to everyday citizens. They told NBC 7 Investigates they were told the paint best matches what the city uses. 

With one call, NBC 7 Investigates received the same information from store employees at that store. They recommended, a color made by the company Benjamin Moore and said “be sure to lay the paint on thick.” 

“It’s inappropriate and it’s unlawful, and there could be penalties from the City,” Senior Traffic Engineer Julio Fuentes for the City of San Diego, said.

Illegally painting a curb red could come with penalties that include a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail time, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Because the city does not have a master map of legitimate red curbs there is no way to know exactly how many illegal ones exist. Instead, the City relies on public complaints to investigate and possibly removed a painted curb. 

“There is no master map, but we do have an extensive record system, and we refer to that,” Fuentes said. “We have the information.” He said one city employee is in charge of checking curb complaints. 

NBC 7 Investigates requested all red curb complaints submitted to the City of San Diego between 2013 and 2015. There were a total of 409 complaints of which four were still active when the records were received. Information on how the issues were resolved was not provided.

Fuentes said signs of illegally painted red curbs include:

  • Sloppy paint job.
  • Looks like paint was brushed on.
  • No obvious reason why it’s there (i.e. near a fire hydrant, fire lane or narrow street)

To submit a request to evaluate a questionable red curb, click here or call (619)533-3126.

If you believe you received a parking ticket and your car was park along an illegal red curb, the San Diego Police Department said you can appeal the ticket by clicking here.

The Department also said you should report the suspicious curb to the City.

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