Friday, October 14, 2005

big city livin'

or "The Dark Side of Karma, reprise."

I think I can safely say that everyone who reads this blog, with one exception, is contemplating or actively plotting a move out of San Francisco, or, having already made the exodus, is sitting smug with their decision. Quitters!

We're staying put, because we have to. But god knows I understand the temptation to just admit defeat and start looking into the logistics of packing up life and hauling it across a bridge, then up or down I-5. Some days the temptation is greater than others.

Our car, the Tax Refund Saab, was booted this morning by the DPT. That means that a big yellow metal lock was placed around a wheel, and we have three days to settle $860 with The City or have the car towed. You may or may not know that we lost another car to SF this year, that one being utterly totalled out in parking tickets. This time the car is worth $2140 more than the sum of the tickets, so we'd better to pay up. You say: "How can you accumulate more than $1600 in parking tickets in about 18 months?" I say: "Better recognize: My huz's ride, The Chicken-hooded Rayko Truck, was also totalled out two weeks ago." Although it only took about $300 in tickets to finish off that one. It was a gem, that vehicle. So, $1900 in tickets. And then I add: "Besides, we live in The Mission."

You can say a lot of nasty things about The Mission, and Dutch has said a few so I'll just refer you to him. But the parking situation is a nightmare for residents, mostly because there are very few permitted parking areas. As you all know, a permit allows you to ignore parking restrictions. Around here, it's all metered retail parking peppered with two short non-permitted streets, and everyone in the city lines up to dump their cars on Natoma and Minna when they're going out of town for a week. So we're constantly racing the $2.50 an hour meters, and usually losing because we're both lazy and absent-minded. I could make other excuses, but they won't hold water either. Truth is, there's not much excuse for us. We don't like cars, and we don't want to be bothered with them or their parking tickets. Apparently we don't like our money, either.

It's at times like this that a suburban two-car garage with a long driveway doesn't sound bad, but I know from experience that we couldn't do it. We were homeowners once. Did you know? We left SF for Portland, where we purchased a 2,500 square foot house with a beautiful yard. Parking was a non-issue, but there were trade-offs. The washing machine broke. It seemed like the landlord should have shown up to fix it. He didn't, because we were the landlords. Same with the dishwasher, the hole that started forming under the sink, the mold that started growing on the roof. According to the neighbors, the yard was supposed to be mowed and maintained. It was beyond us. It seemed like we would have had to mow and clip shrubs every damn week. Like we had nothing better to do? The house and yard never reached West Virginia Jesco the Dancing Outlaw status, but we were getting there. After two years we did the neighborhood a favor and moved back to SF, to a 900 square foot rental apartment where we were relieved to pay $1600 a month to a reassuringly responsible landlord.

And $1600 a year to the DPT for the privilege of parking our cars on the street in our own neighborhood and having them towed three times a year, evidently. Is this better than spending 12 hours a month of our leisure time pushing a lawnmower? Dunno. Dunno.


At 3:31 PM, Blogger Alisyn said...

Ugh. I have been there. I, too, have had a car repo'd by DPT/DMV, whatever the fuck it was. It was a cute little Audi with a passenger side door that didn't open and a sunroof that didn't close. I think some homeless guys were living in, when it finally got taken away.

It's intersting to me that you guys did the Portland/buy a house thing, then came back. I, too, am more scared of owning a house, and all that that entails, than I am of being a renter forever. I like having someone who'll actually take responsibility for faulty appliances, bugs, falling down fences, whathaveyou. Cuz seriously, life's too short. Life is just too short. Renters of the world, unite!

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Apartment Number One said...

So, that comes out to a little less than $90 a month for parking, which is pretty damn good by Mission standards where a garage/ parking space usually goes for $250 a month.

Wow, I can't believe you actually bought a house in Portland and came back to SF. I dream of all those cute bungalows in my old NE Portland neighborhood and how I'd love to own one of those right about now so I wouldn't have to deal with my lease termination. But M. says that he could be content never owning a house exactly for the reasons you listed--a phone call will bring someone over to roto-rooter the drains, fix the garbage disposal, etc. And you can change residences fairly easily.

Hey--by the way, let me know if you seen any signs for a 1- or 2-bedroom apt. around that I wouldn't have to sell a kidney to rent.

At 5:31 PM, Blogger llamaschool said...

The house was indeed a NE bungalow, and it was cute. It deserved better.

If we hadn't tried the move-to-Portland thing before Sabra, I know we would so be doing it now. I'm glad we got it over with, better to know before you're dragging an extra u-haul full of kidcrap around.

Re: the $90 a month parking, I'll be pointing this out to M tonight. Maybe it'll improve his mood.

At 9:31 PM, Blogger posthipchick said...

sometimes it takes leaving to make you realize how good you have it.

i thought we would be fine in the suburbs- hey, we both work so much anyway, what does it matter?- but lord, was i wrong! never again.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Dutch said...

I just got a letter from the IRS telling them I had to pay $2399 in taxes I owed from 2003, even though s shitlosd of taxes in 2003. Sometimes life sucks, but it's just money.

Not to torture you or anything, but Wood and I have two parking spaces, AND we live in the coolest neighborhood in town. That is, if your idea of a good time on a Friday night is souping up a 1997 honda del sol with rims and an engine that allows you to lurch valiantly from stop sign to stop sign all the way out to ocean beach. Mine is.

At 4:00 PM, Blogger kristenL said...

I am not planning to leave SF anytime soon. I love this city.
However - we are not going to buy a car since parking in our neighborhood is such a freakin' nightmare. And if that means bringing our baby on the nightmare that is public transportation then so be it...

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous heidi said...

Came via MetroDad...oh how I empathize. Left SF for LA...WTF?! Yeah, I nkow incredible. I miss it so much there....except for the DPT. One year I paid them $6000 which was, yes, more than my little neon was worth. UGH!

May the parking gods bless you greatly from here on.


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