Friday, March 13, 2009

Menace to public safety?

So I went to San Francisco and parked the RV at Ocean Beach like I usually do when I visit the city. I took the Muni and my friend and I met at the old Balboa Theater. We saw a terrific double feature: Frost/Nixon and The Wrestler. I recommend them both. After we had coffee, I returned to the RV and worked on the computer. I watched the sun set over the Pacific and looked at Seal Rock graying in the dusk. Then I realized it was getting too dark for me to drive comfortably. I looked through the kitchen window and saw a class C about 50 feet away. The couple seemed to be settled in for the night and I decided to spend the night, planning to leave early in the morning. I didn't pay attention to the signs since I had parked there many times.

At 5 am, the street cleaner went by in both directions. I rolled over and went back to sleep until 7:30. I turned on the computer to check emails and the overnight attempts by spammers to register on the forums, dressed and was making a cup of coffee.

Suddenly, there were three rapid knocks on the back of the RV. Then three more on the left side (the shade was still down), and a couple of knocks on the front (the curtains were closed across the windshield). I opened the door and saw a San Francisco police officer rounding the passenger side. "Oh. You're here."
"Yes. I'm making coffee."
She said, "The people across the street in the condos reported your license plate and said you were parked here overnight."
"Yes, I was. I don't like driving at night and there was another RV parked by me."
She looked through the kitchen window as I did and the class C was gone. There were several cars parked on the other side with surfers donning wetsuits.
She seemed surprised that I would admit spending the night. "You spent the night?"
I nodded. "Ocean Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area so it's federal land. I thought it would be safe to park here."
While she stood there, I looked to my right and saw three black-and-whites with a total of five officers inside, her partner being the solo occupant in one of the cars.
"I'm having a cup of coffee and I'll be leaving within an hour, OK?"
She said that was fine. "If you do spend the night again, move down the beach to the other lot."
I knew about the other lot. There is a class C with a generator on the ground next to it plugged into the RV. The man has lived there for months.
I agreed, she walked back to her vehicle and I closed the door.

I was shaking my head at the commotion caused by complaints about an RV spending the night in the parking lot at Ocean Beach and six officers in three cars investigating before 8 am. Must not be much crime in the city at that hour. There was a knock at the door. I opened it and she said, "You have a ticket. I just wanted to let you know it's there and I didn't issue it. Must have been parking." I thanked her, she left and I finished my coffee.

The ticket was indeed from parking for being in the way of the street cleaner. My penalty for not reading the signs? $50. Expensive trip to San Francisco.

Can you imagine who would have arrived if the neighbors thought my RV and I were a threat to national security? Thank goodness my driver's license, registration and insurance have an actual street address listed and not a post office box. We all know Homeland Security suspects full-time RVers without a sticks-and-bricks address could be potential terrorists.

So for those of you who are planning to visit San Francisco and park as I advised in this blog a few months ago, you'll be fine as long as you don't boondock. If you do, park away from the condos and near the RV with the generator on the ground.

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