Tail-in or nose-in, SmartCar drivers could be ticketed for parking this way
  • Tail-in or nose-in, SmartCar drivers could be ticketed for parking this way
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The end of the summer season this year is noted on the calendar as September 23. But since it’s more traditional for San Diego residents to gladly send everyone packing on Labor Day weekend, we comply.

Even after the summer finale, the few parking spots left on surface streets are usually taken as the sun comes up, while the public beach parking lots fill to capacity soon afterward. Residents and visitors can be seen hunting for a place to park. However, drivers of at least one vehicle type have become creative to achieve this goal.

Drivers renting an ultra-compact SmartCar from the city-sanctioned Car2Go service have been squeezing into tiny spots between cars by pointing the nose or the tail directly to the curb on city streets and parking lots. How can this be? Is it even legal?

A SmartCar parked lengthwise at the curb will reach 106.1 inches into the roadway. This dimension blends right in with many vehicles parallel-parked on the street. For example, the width of a Chevy Suburban or Ford F-350 measures from 79 to 96 inches, but add a foot-and-a half bonus curbside (because properly parallel-parked vehicles are allowed to be up to 18 inches from the curb) and the nose-in or nose-out SmartCar would seem to present no problem.

Just because an unconventionally parked SmartCar may go unnoticed does not necessarily mean it is legal — although none of the nine San Diego police and parking patrol officers questioned were able to furnish a definitive answer.

San Diego Municipal Code seems to answer the question: SDMC 22502.(a) states that “…every vehicle stopped or parked upon a roadway where there are adjacent curbs shall be stopped or parked with the right-hand wheels of such vehicle parallel with and within 18 inches of the right-hand curb.”

Therefore, a parking citation may be issued to any vehicle in violation.

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AlexClarke Sept. 8, 2015 @ 8:21 a.m.

Ah revenue enhancement soon in the works.


Visduh Sept. 8, 2015 @ 8:23 a.m.

In San Francisco you see that frequently. Curb parking there is very scarce, and there are many short spots--generally between curb cuts--that are far too short for anything conventional. But Smart Cars can fit. A few of those are so short, that the only way they can be used is to park a Smart Car perpendicular to the curb. You'll also see it when there's some space between two vehicles, or a short space in front of or behind a vehicle that will accommodate a perpendicularly parked Smart Car. (If I had one, I think I'd be most reluctant to stick it between two cars with the side of my car exposed to their bumpers.) In the city it is often necessary to use every inch of a space, hence cars are constantly bumped by other cars being parked or removed. But many San Franciscans buy Smart Cars, and love them. There's no indication that their cops cite such unconventionally parked cars as long as they fit in the space allotted.


dwbat Sept. 8, 2015 @ 8:39 a.m.

Why didn't the driver just drive across the grass into that empty spot? ;-)



Sredmerski Sept. 8, 2015 @ 3:04 p.m.

Very interesting topic. One should consider the safety of parking legally as well. When exiting from a parking space when parallel, the driver has the side view mirrors to assist. Parking front or tail in could prove dangerous when leaving parking spot to enter into traffic. Clearly they would be entering "blind" and could cause an accident . Just a thought !


Wickstawatcher Sept. 10, 2015 @ 5:15 p.m.

Hello . . . Dangerous . . . Blind ? why would you need a mirror when you can just look left and have a gigantic window to look out to see whether to merge or not . . . ha, looking left is far safer than having to look behind you, silly OMG ha ha ha ha


JustWondering Sept. 8, 2015 @ 3:42 p.m.

Just a minor correction to this story which does not change its outcome. The section cited, 22502(a), is part of the California Vehicle Code, not the San Diego Municipal Code as written. As mentioned the vehicle can still be cited for the violation.

This section, 22502(a) CVC, also applies to those who park on the "wrong" side of the street (with the exception of one way streets) where the right wheels are more than 18 inches from the curb.


Wabbitsd Sept. 8, 2015 @ 4:05 p.m.

It would be nice to think officers can use judgment in this case. For instance, if both cars shown (other than the mini vehicle) can easily get out, no ticket. However, if either of the two is inconvenienced by this car, ticket away. I would hate to have someone hit my bumper because an inconsiderate "non-smart" car driver felt the need to squeeze in.


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