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.