Last week I was sitting in bed, wrapping my brain around a programming problem presented by my newest project. With no warning, someone started pounding on the wall of my RV. No identification, no verbal communication. Just banging on the wall. Within a few seconds someone else started banging on the other side.
Would you open the door? I didn't. I shut my laptop and stayed as quiet as I could. I have light blocking curtains, but I could see that flashlight beams were reaching for the edges of them.
Then I heard someone try to open my driver's side door. It's locked. Then the passenger side. Also locked. I wondered if I remembered to lock the RV door. It gets tried, too, and the intruder can't get in.
I peak out one of the curtains when both guys are on the other side and I see a police car. After five minutes of harassment and a toothless warning about my "abandoned vehicle" on my windshield, they leave.
In San Francisco it's illegal to sleep in your vehicle. They know I'm in there, but can't prove it if I don't answer. So they harass me and I pretend I'm not there to witness it.
This doesn't happen in other cities, but San Francisco's high living expenses and excellent weather have made RV living attractive for a lot of people - mostly people with really junky large RVs who park near me and draw a lot of attention. My favorite spots have become clogged with these guys, and they're bringing heat to my situation.
Tonight I came back from a trip to Harbin Hot Springs, played a few hours of poker, and was dropped off at my RV, which is parked in Berkeley. My motorcycle is in San Francisco, and was four hours away from getting a $55 street cleaning ticket. The RV belched exhaust from under the engine, so driving it to the city wasn't an option. In the freezing cold I rode my electric skateboard a mile to a ZipCar, drove the ZipCar 20 minutes to my motorcycle, found a spot that's good until Friday, walked back to the ZipCar, drove it back, and skated back to my RV.
It's time to improve my system. Whenever something in my life is a bit of a problem, I think of it as an opportunity to make that something a positive part of my life. For example, showering in my RV became a hassle in San Francisco because I had to drive 20 minutes to refill my tanks. Without showers I could go 2-3 weeks. With showers I lasted 4-5 days. So I joined a luxury spa. Now every day I take two showers, sit in the steam room, and drink really good cucumber water. My friends joined, too, so it's a great time to sit together and relax, catch up, or just stare into the steam and ponder that next great idea.
Last week a small parking lot was up for rent on Craigslist. It was too expensive for me to rent myself, but after a few days I managed to wrangle some friends into splitting it with me. By then it was already sold and there were no others to rent.
So it occurred to me to ask my readers if anyone can help me out. Over the years I've met a bunch of my readers and have really consistently been blown away by how awesome you guys are. I'm not just saying that to butter you up. I can't imagine that out of the thousands of awesome people out there, no one has a good lead on a place for me to park.
Here's what I'm hoping for:
- Room for at least my RV (20'8" long) and my motorcycle. Todd is probably interested in parking for his Honda Element and motorcycle. If the space is bigger, I might be able to find more friends to share it.
- Either very good solar coverage (middle of a parking lot, for example) or electricity. I use very little and have a small meter to measure how much I use (I will pay you back more than it costs to provide me the electricity)..
- Located in either Hayes Valley, The Mission, The Castro, SOMA, or the Panhandle. Really, anything close to BART or underground MUNI.
- In an ideal world, it would be some weird configuration. The loading dock of a mall, or an abandoned parking lot somewhere, or the roof of a parking garage your uncle owns. Or if we're really shooting for the moon, maybe you know someone who knows someone who can convince the park rangers in a SF park to rent me a spot.
I spend about half my time in SF and half the time away. You basically won't know when I'm there or when I'm not because I'm really quiet and considerate. No loud noises, bright lights, litter, water draining, etc.. Because I'm away from SF so much I prefer to pay rent many months in advance (I'm renting a spot in Berkeley right now where I do this).
To be clear, I'm completely willing to pay a fair market rate, or even slightly above, for this space. I'm hoping for your help in reaching out to people you know who might have somewhere cool to rent me, not for your help in getting me discount parking. If you do help me find a spot I end up taking, I will repay you somehow.
Have any ideas? parking spot at tynan dot NET.
P.S. I am very hesitant to post any requests for personal stuff on this site because I know that 99% of readers don't know anything about parking in SF (but maybe you can forward this to someone who does?). I decided to post this one because it will make a big difference to me if someone can help, and I thought I could make the post moderately entertaining by sharing a couple recent stories.
I should also mention that a big part of the impetus of this is that I'm going to be doing a lot more traveling in the near future and need a convenient place to park that allows me easy access to the airport. So if you're into travel stuff, there should be some good posts for you in the pipeline.
Details on the SXSW panel I'm co-hosting coming later this week.
Lots of TaskSmash Codes:
Hey!! I am LOVING your posts! If I am ever in desperate need of a place to park, my favorite one or two night stays are in front of a hotel. Preferably a decent size so they really have no idea what guest are driving what, and continental breakfasts are nice too! And they generally have a pool/shower you can hop into quick!
@RV Wannabe: You could be right, but that's what a startup is supposed to find out.
90% still leaves 10% that don't mind. We've had 2 RVs on my street that have been in driveways for multiple months at a time. So there are some places that don't mind. And this would be a way to find those places.
Some people might even want an RVer to park in their driveway. Consider if I was going to be away from the house for a while on vacation or travelling. It would be a form of house sitting that doesn't require the house sitter to
be in the house.
And as far as being bad neighbors, that would be built into the product. RVers would create a profile, and Hosters could rate them on how good of a guest they were. Bad guests wouldn't get repeat offers or would get banned from the system. (Maybe police this with license plate numbers.)
Also, you might be taking it a little too specific. Airbnb for example, now has listings for all kinds of space to rent...and they don't all provide breakfast. So the kinds of places that Tynan mentioned above (loading docks, parking lots, tops of parking garages, etc) would be able to list there too. Even RV parks.
Tynan is testing the idea out right here. So we'll see if it has merit or not.
I just came back to the Bay Area after 10 years back East, and bought a 24' RV to do so. I parked it in a spot in the Sunset by a friends' house Friday at 3:00 p.m. and went to a gig bartending a party. I got back at 3:30 a.m., went right to sleep and at 4:15 two cops started knocking. I ignored them and they started rocking my rig violently. Finally, I greeted them and they said a resident called and said I'd been there a few days. I explained that I had been in there all of an hour, showed them my CA DL with an address one block away and told them I didn't have my house key and didn't want to wake my friends. They insisted that I leave so the resident didn't call again and told me it was illegal to "live in your vehicle." They were courteous, but WTF? I was just getting a few quiet hours sleep bothering no one. So. If I had continued to ignore them, would they have gone away without incident? I was in a legal parking spot in my friend's neighborhood. They can't cite or tow an RV for being legally parked, can they? People sleeping in storefront doorways aren't asked to leave or even hassled. What's a body in a truck on the street to anybody? How can I poach some sleep between shifts in this city?
I spent about 4 years living in an rv in the bay area from about 2002 to 2007.
SF police do harass you a lot if you are trying to live in a rv in the city. After being rousted twice on my first two nights in SF by the police, I found a stretch of street by a marina where there were other rv's parked. I was only in SF for two weeks and after moving to the marina I didn't have any more police problems. Since then I've found parking near marinas to be a common rv congregating area for rvers and relatively hassle free.
While in the bay area, I mostly lived in the mid peninsula and Oakland areas. Early on I was run off by a neighborhood watch group in Palo Alto. They left a note on my window saying they knew I was living out of my vehicle illegally (after some research, I found it illegal in most cities to live in an rv parked on the side of the road) and would inform the police if I didn't move. I suppose it was nice of them to give me the warning instead of going straight to the police.
I also received an abandoned vehicle notice from the police on my windshield once. Oh and one security guard pounding and shaking my rv while I was parked in a parking lot by the Palo Alto Square Theater.
What I was doing early on was parking my rv and commuting with my truck to work or wherever. I think people in the neighborhoods would see that the rv pretty much never moved (It's a class b) so it was sort of obvious I was living in it. What I started to do after that was I would find a place on the side of the road, preferably near a large apartment complex, and park the rv there for the night. When I woke up, I would drive to another part of town where I had my truck parked, transfer over to the truck and drive to work. Then after work, come back to the rv at the end of the day and drive it back to the place I started. I did that for 3 years or so on the mid peninsula with no problems. I think doing it like that brought less attention to the fact that I was living in the rv. It also kept my batteries pretty much charged. (no solar panel for me unfortunately) In addition, I think apartment complex residents are less worrisome about rvers than neighborhoods composed primarily of people in houses.
The last year or so I was working in the east bay and mostly parked near marinas. In that time I only had one problem driving through Alameda where I was pulled over by their police and my rv was searched. An unpleasant experience.
Hope things work out well for you. I'm living in Austin now and plan on moving back into a small rv in a few years. I've been living in non mobile residences since I moved here and find myself missing the rv life.
I'm rather new to RV living and just moved to Denver not too long ago and have a few friends who live downtown but don't drive. Anyways, they receive a street parking permit (either through the city or their complex) and gave it to me. I don't have to move for 14 days and sweep days but also move around other parts of the state quite a bit. I park my motorcycle on a rack on the back but its also only just over a 260lbs so its easy to push around. So I always have a spot for my bike. Somehow I've somehow yet to be knocked on and I also know that vehicles over 20 feet aren't supposed to be in one spot more than 24 hours in Denver and I know I'm at 22. So far its working for me. Just find someone with no car and a residence in an area you like and chances are they can get a permit. Just started reading some of your stuff this week and I like it. So keep on it.
Perhaps you could rent out Albion Castle? It has 4 parking spaces (two in garage, two outside). You could rent out the interior rooms to cover the rent, then park outside.
Built in 1870 by John Hamlin Burnell, a young English immigrant with plans for a brewery to supply the over 800 saloons serving the growing city. Beer was already a popular choice in San Francisco, with several local breweries already competing for business. But Burnell's new property had a secret advantage: An underground aquifer that provided pure cold water, perfect for brewing - not to mention free. He built himself not only the workspaces for the Albion Porter & Ale Brewery, but also a castle home. Although relatively petite and built into a hillside, it features a distinctive tower built from stones pulled from cargo ship's ballast, modeled after Norman fortifications Burnell loved back home.
Under the castle, Burnell dug out two stone cisterns, each capturing 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of spring water per day. The 200 foot pools are accessed
by a cave entrance, and still provide fresh clean water today.
Only $1.5 million.
Go to church, Tynan.
My friend at university couldn't afford a parking permit and there was no street parking available for at least a mile. She joined a nearby church and got free weekday parking in their large nearly empty lot adjoining the university! (She never went inside the church except once to become a member.)
While I know you like cool and unique spots and staying away from RV Parks (and so do we) - we tend to always fall back to Treasure Island Mobile Home Park in South SF when we're staying in the area longer term. We totally do street parking and drive way surfing when just there for a week or so... and have found some unique spots with friends/readers too.
The advantage of Treasure Island is that despite their name, they have a RV Park in the front with full hook-ups. And they're about a block and half from the SSF BART Station (just two stops from SFO, so really easy airport access). And there's also a Trader Joe's right there too.
At $775/mo - we've found it to be the best deal for staying in SF on a monthly basis. The park ain't much to look at, but we've always felt safe there - and have been able to take off traveling from there. Some of the long term residents there are quite quirky and fun.
Anyway... that's our idea...
Good luck on the parking spot. We will be heading to San Fran to "live" for a while this fall in our RV. I have quite a few friends living in the city and will ask them if they have any solutions that might work for you (and us when we get there).
Will be in touch if they have anything otherwise best of luck!
PS. Where are you parking for SXSW? We need some beta on a good spot if you know of any. Know you lived in Austin for a long time and know the city well. We have a 24' rig. Thanks.
I've lived in my RV for 10 days now. I have only gone back to the condo to get clothes, and to sleep one night (basically I picked a loud parking spot that was 10 feet from the condo and it was 5am so I just went inside instead of driving to a quiet spot). A lot of things have panned out as expected, but there have also been some big surprises.
I could go on and on, but you probably get the idea. I totally love living in this RV. It's a great feeling to drive over to my mom's house and have her say "Oh, you didn't happen to bring those tickets, did you?" and to just be able to walk into my house and get them.
My parents are really into the RV thing, which is funny. They're always a bit skeptical about my schemes. My dad helped me take out the CRT TV and the Microwave which I replaced with a flat panel and a flash bake oven. My mom made me nice curtains. I'm trying hard to resist the urge to totally trick out the RV. The carpet smells a bit musty so I might put in granite tile or bamboo floors. I think that would be neat.
Getaround is a car sharing service like Zipcar, except that it uses people's private vehicles instead of a fleet. It's a bit like AirBnB for cars. Getaround is part of the "collaborative consumption" movement, which believes that if we could share things we don't use most of the time it would be better for us in a lot of ways. Sharing cars means less cars on the road, which means less pollution, and generally less "stuff."
I'd never used Getaround and a few weeks ago I was trying to figure out why. I pinged Jessica, one of the founders, and told her that what I'd realized was that I didn't want to have to go to someone's house and "borrow" their car. The thought of actually interacting with the owner of a car was awkward enough that it had kept me from trying the service.
Jessica told me about a new type of rental they now have called "Instant," where I can use the Getaround mobile app to rent a car instantly and unlock it with my phone, meaning I wouldn't have to meet the owner or wait for approval. (This dovetails really well into my recent blogs about the power of mobile and apps to transform businesses, and how Fortune 1000 CEOs are going to get fired for missing it.) Getaround Instant was exactly what I was looking for, so my brother-in-law Dal and I decided to give it a try.
I had a few hiccups that Getaround is still working through (for example, Getaround verifies a driver's driving history with the DMV in real-time, and since my last name has a hyphen in it, but the DMV doesn't account for hyphens, my rental request initially broke Getaround's booking system. But both Jessica and Matt were very proactive at resolving these speed bumps). Overall the process was incredibly smooth: