San Francisco

Using cones to claim parking spots becomes popular tactic in San Francisco neighborhood

NBC Universal, Inc.

In the battle to find a parking spot in San Francisco, a curious group has emerged: "the cone people."

They’re residents who use orange cones to try to claim a parking spot close to their homes.

It’s become a popular tactic in the city's Excelsior District, where much of the neighborhood is not regulated by parking permits, and it's sparked a good amount of debate.

"It seems like, 'OK, this is very territorial, it's very territorial,'" Excelsior resident Gina Ramos said.

Every resident NBC Bay Area spoke with said the orange cone situation happens a lot in the neighborhood. They also shared a few reasons why.

Among them, the neighborhood has a lot of single family homes. Some of them are multi-generational.

"There's two or three families with three cars, and then they're not using their garages, and there's only so much public parking," Excelsior resident Brian Selby said.

It's also one of the city's non-permitted and non-metered neighborhoods. Residents said people who live elsewhere park in the neighborhood, which sometimes squeezes out locals.

"I used to park seven blocks away and walk down because I couldn't find parking," Ramos said.

According to 311 data, parking in the Excelsior can sometimes lead to conflict. Nearly 800 parking complaints have been called in the last three months for everything from people blocking a driveway to cars parked in a bike lane.

Removing illegally placed cones is the job of public works crews. A spokesperson said the department will send out an inspector when they get a 311 complaint and collect the cone if it's not being used legally.

According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), there are no special permits allowing residents to put a cone or other marker in the street to save a spot, except for construction and maintenance crews.

An SFMTA spokesperson said residents can petition to have the area turned into a permitted parking zone.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai said that's something residents already tried a few years ago, but it lacked enough support.

Safai said more bus service through the area could help.

"If we have a robust public transportation system, people become less reliant on cars," Safai said.

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