Tow, Baby, Tow

You would think after six weeks of notices taped to the apartment doors and a final warning taped to the poles around the parking lot, some people would take a hint.  Nope.  Ain’t going to happen, baby.  Some of my neighbors wouldn’t even take down the notices from their doors, leaving them up there like political posters posted over the old posters left over from the last election on telephone poles.  (For the younger generation, there used to be telephone poles on every street before the utility companies started burying the cables underground, and campaign posters gave way to become websites and viral videos on to the Internet.)  An apartment door covered with paper becomes an eyesore in a hurry.  Half the doors on my section of the floor was like that.

Why do some people leave their cars parked in their old unassigned parking spots without the new permits to be towed away?

Maybe they were on vacation.  A guy at a different apartment complex returned home from India after a six week-vacation to find that his car was towed away for not being moved from its designated parking spot every 72 hours, impounded for 30 days, and crushed as scrape metal to pay the towing fees.  Since he didn’t notified the leasing office that he was going on vacation and they weren’t able to contact him, his vehicle was presumed to be abandoned and towed away.  Tsk, tsk, you’re so out of luck, they told him.  Police told him the same thing.  He told the San Jose Mercury News and everyone in Silicon Valley knew he was out of luck.  This happens all the time in San Francisco without making the papers.

Or maybe they weren’t on the lease.  All you need is one legimate person to sign the lease, who turns around to sublease the apartment out to friends or strangers who aren’t legal and/or credit worthy to be on the lease.  Needless to say, these unofficial tenants aren’t going into the leasing office with their vehicle registration to pick up the new permit.  Changing the parking permits and reassigning parking spots is a good way to flush out these apartments, as well as legitimate tenants who own three or four cars.  Street parking is non-existent around here with students trying to avoid paid parking at San Jose City College, extra cars from the other apartment complexes, permits required for street parking on the residential street, and the nearest public parking lot is a mile away.  If you ever tried driving around a crowded neighborhood to look for a parking spot when visiting a friend, it’s a more frustrating experience for someone who lives there.

I once shared an apartment with three Filipino guys when rent prices were crazy in Silicon Valley before the dot com bust blew the rental market to Kingdom Come.  We were all on the lease.  They shared the large room and I was in the smaller room.  The brother who recently arrived from the Phillipines suggested that the big bedroom had enough space for another 20 Filipino guys.  Uh, no.  One, that wouldn’t fly with the leasing office. Two, having once slept overnight with 20 guys—some of whom had dinner at Taco Bell—in a small hotel room for a campus ministry retreat in Berkeley, I wasn’t going to relive that experience. Three, they never did pony up that Filipino wife that they promised me (probably because I didn’t eat the balut).  After so many misadventures with roommates over the years, I’m happy to be living by myself.

Or maybe they were stupid.  A roommate and I had shared an apartment at a complex that had strict parking rules.  He had the only car but we had two assigned parking spots.  One day for lunch he parked his car in the uncovered spot because it was closer to the apartment.  The permit sticker on his car was for the covered spot.  When he got done with lunch, he found out that his car was towed away for being in the wrong spot and it cost him $350 to get his car back.  We also found out that the complex got $150 for every car that was towed away, which would explain why a tow truck came through the complex at 9AM, 12PM and 3PM every day of the week.  On average, two cars a day got towed.

My apartment complex has some 300 odd apartments and 600 odd parking spots.  After the new parking regime went into effect, about 200 parking spots opened up.  The former “visitor” parking spots were mostly empty at night during the week.  Cars without the new permits started showing up over the weekend.  I haven’t seen any tow trucks cruising through the complex yet.  That might change once everyone gets used to the new parking regime and the parking spots start filling up again.  I’m not taking any risks.  I had my friend parked at the post office and picked him up to hang out over at my place.  Neither of us can afford to have his car towed.

Although I gave up a parking spot that I had for nearly five years, I liked the new one.  It’s further back than the other one, on the end and out of the traffic flow.  Also out of the crossfire of dueling pine trees when they dump pollen during spring.  It’s further away from the dumpsters and mailbox.  Multitasking multiple errands requires more walking.  Not that I mind walking.  I saw one person driving their car with one hand out the window to hold the trash bags to drive over to the dumpster.  Now that’s plain stupid.