San Francisco man gets parking ticket after curb was repainted red while his car was parked

San Francisco's parking enforcement gang is notorious for issuing parking tickets. If you look closely at their uniforms, you'll see a badge that says "Cite 'em all and let God sort 'em out."

It's understandable why the city issues so many parking tickets — they need the money to pay the thousands of bureaucrats it employs to deny licenses to people wanting to start small businesses there, like Jason Yu, who spent $200,000 trying to open an ice cream shop in San Francisco before being strangled by red tape. (Here's another example).

In 2021 the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) collected $364 million in parking and traffic fees, representing 31% of its operating revenue.

In its never-ending quest to come up with new ways to take money from drivers, the SFMTA is trying a new tactic: waiting for cars to park in a legal parking spot, then painting the curb red so they can issue a citation. That's what happened to Jeff Jolly, a longtime San Francisco resident who parked at a space at the corner of Larkin and Union streets. He'd been parking there for 25 years without incident, he told ABC 7. But last week, he and his wife Desiree got a surprise:

"We came out and we were walking up from the store, and I noticed the ticket on my car," Desiree said. Upon closer inspection, on the windshield of her Honda sedan was a $180 fine for parking in a red zone – one that Desiree and Jeff say wasn't there when she parked a couple of days earlier…or years past.

"If it was warranted I don't have a problem with it, but this seems unfair to me," she said.

"The red stripe is there, where it wasn't before, and they had the nerve to just to go around my tire," she described, pointing out a small patch the city's paint shop missed when they avoided painting the Honda's tire.

When ABC7 contacted the City for an explanation, a spokesperson said the curb was always red and supplied a photo of the spot in question. As ABC7 points out, "the curb in the image does show some red spots, they are very faint."

Faded red zone parking space at the corner of Union & Larkin Streets.
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA)

But ABC7 says it looked at the spot on Google Maps "and in several clear photos from 2016 and 2021, the red paint on the curb appears to have completely faded away so the curb looks completely gray."

Google Maps images of the corner of Union & Larkin Streets in 2016 and 2021.

The ticket might be the last straw for the couple:

"I'm going through chemotherapy right now, so it's like I'm worried about other things and now I have to worry about this," Desiree said.

Jeff and Desiree said after all the challenges of living in the city lately, including another vehicle-related drama where Jeff had a catalytic converter stolen, this could be their final straw.

"We do want to leave because of all of this stuff that goes on in the city," Jeff said.

They plan to say "bonjour" to moving to France sometime in the future.