We wrote several weeks ago about the little-noticed Berkeley ordinance that restricts street parking to 72 hours. One reader, who prefers anonymity because “my teenager may be mortified”, tells her story:

Just a small reflection on an event yesterday that rankled me and leaves me with a huge question about what is a neighbor and how can we live peacefully in cities. My car was towed from the front of my home, from a dirt turnout, while I napped yesterday. Waking from my nap from the sounds of heavy machinery on the road, I looked out to see activity behind the trees, ran down my steps to see my car being put on a truck from Avenue Tow. When questioned the tow truck driver tells me it was cited by BPD.

I spent the next three hours trying to get my car back and successfully do after spending $235, a bike ride down to the PD and then to 2nd Street I drove my crippled car back home, back to its benign parking space,  its damaged front end displayed for all to see.

My car was totaled last September and slowly, in my spare time, I have been trying to repair it. It still runs, has been moved multiple times to be washed and to three auto body shops for repairs or simply turned away. Just yesterday I purchased a new hood. I have had two prior notices reminding me of the 72-hour parking restriction in Berkeley, have called the PD and was told a neighbor has been reporting my car, but won’t give me a name. The police assured me it would take five days before the car would be towed, the tires were marked to note whether the car had been moved and to move it or remove the marker. “No big deal” they reminded me on those two occasions.

Monday, home sick from work a new orange tag, a pile of pulp after it disintegrated from the rains, was noticed. This time someone meant business. This time my whole tire was chalked but I laboriously removed the chalk and continued this week on my nearing success at obtaining the parts for my car to be whole again.

Since then I have placed a note on the dash explaining my situation, where I lived, and my contact if needed. I have removed rocks on the tires, markings placed by the PD, and again slowly repair my car purchasing (bad) headlamps twice from eBay, work my three jobs, and support my teenager and pet. I have lived here since 1994, have a one-car garage on a steep hill, researched the off street parking at City Hall, and share these frequently vacant six spaces with my neighbors.

I have worked to get sidewalks on my street, bemoan the loss of bus routes and wish I didn’t need a car, but practicality rules. Our city is not built for pedestrians. One car that is disabled belonging to my neighbor has never been tagged or towed, although its been there since before September. I am not reporting my neighbors car, I understand their circumstances and empathize with them. A good example would be to first speak with your neighbor. One of my neighbors calls around when she notices unattended cars parked for lengthy periods of time. These are neighborly behaviors and watchful eyes to keep our streets safe. Tagging my car at 2pm and having it towed at 3pm while I slept in my home tells me one of our police is more interested in raising revenues and playing cat and mouse rather than doing serious public safety police work.

I don’t know if I will recover any of the $235 and in this economy any savings is a challenge. I am trying to repair my car because I cannot afford a new one, this is just another setback for a working class hero.

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