While driving in San Francisco, I got a cell phone call that I had to take. So I stopped at the metered space for maybe 2 minutes to take a call.

Next thing I see is a parking enforcement car behind me with a lady writing me a ticket. Her vehicle blocking my way out. I honked asking to get out, but she just walked up and put it under the wiper blade even though I am in the car with the engine running. When I said "Excuse me!" there was no answer, like I don't exist. I took the ticket and pushed it into the opening in her car.

But now I found the citation online:

  • TRC7.2.26 YELLOW ZONE $91.00

7.2.26 says: "To Park in a yellow zone indicated by yellow paint on the curb or signage ... Non-commercial vehicles shall not be Parked in a yellow zone in excess of a period of three minutes, during which the operator must be in attendance ...". Wikipedia defines parking as "(an) act of stopping and disengaging a vehicle and leaving it unoccupied."

My questions:

  • Vehicle wasn't unoccupied, and also it wasn't disengaged. Am I right that this is an unlawfully issued citation (not an instance of "parking")?

  • Can the parking enforcement vehicle block the way out for the vehicle it issues citation for?

  • Can the parking enforcement officer ignore the honking and still proceed in issuing a ticket?

  • I was there more than 3 minutes only because I was blocked by the parking enforcement vehicle. Does 7.2.26 still apply if the vehicle is blocked from leaving?

  • This is not a direct answer, but might be worth looking into, seeing as you live in California (you might be able to pay a lower fine): reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3oqzvr/… May 5, 2016 at 0:16
  • 3
    Under your interpretation, I could park my car wherever I want as long as I pay someone to sit in it.
    – emory
    May 5, 2016 at 0:27
  • 1
    It does not say unless the operator is in attendance, it says, during which the operator must be in attendance. It says clearly (to me) that you cannot park there at all unless you are in the vehicle, so the three minute limit obviously applies when you are in the vehicle. I would ticket you too if you honked at me and I was a parking enforcement officer.
    – doug65536
    May 5, 2016 at 7:52
  • You should be able to prove the length of your phone call after which you would have left the space if it had still been possible to do so. Note that I would be the entire length of your call (plus some amount) because you, of course, did not begin the call until parked, right?
    – Makyen
    May 5, 2016 at 7:58

1 Answer 1


The California Vehicle Code defines parking as:

“Park or parking” shall mean the standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading merchandise or passengers

SF gives precedence to the Vehicle Code, but also defines parking here:

To park or stop a vehicle, as defined in the Vehicle Code, or to cause or permit a vehicle to be parked or stopped, unless the context requires a different meaning.

Stopping constitutes parking, and that is pretty much all there is to that, I am afraid to say. Being unoccupied or disengaged (shut off) isn't necessary.

  • 1
    Wow, I just found my new racket: driving around SF, blocking people parked in yellow, and telling them I'll let them leave if they pay me 50 bucks, otherwise they'll get a ticket. Totally legal, apparently? :D
    – neminem
    May 4, 2016 at 23:13
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    @neminem For you to do it? Probably not. There are rules about how close you may park to another vehicle and you could be ticketed for blocking them. For the parking enforcement officer to do it? Yes, they have exemptions from the parking rules in most places so they don't have to walk too far.
    – Perkins
    May 4, 2016 at 23:50
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    @reirab I think the dastardly plan is block somebody into a space with the threat that the real parking enforcement people will give them a ticket, not pretending to be a parking enforcement person. So no impersonation or fraud would be taking place. For what it's worth. Which isn't very much. May 5, 2016 at 2:21
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    Under this California Vehicle Code definition of "parking" waiting for the green light qualifies as parking. Vehicle Code definition is inconsistent with the common sense. May 5, 2016 at 7:43
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    @GrammarAddict and next time someone crosses the road in front of you, make sure to accelerate and run them over lest you are accused of parking in the middle of the street.
    – terdon
    May 5, 2016 at 8:07

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