(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A San Francisco couple who was recently fined $1,542 for parking on their own property -- with the threat of a $250-per-day fee if they didn't stop -- is now allowed to park on their carpad once again without having to pay the fine.
Judy and Ed Craine said they have been parking their Hyundai for 36 years when they received the fine, which then forced them to park on San Francisco's steep hills.
A decades-old section of city planning code bans motor vehicles of all kinds from being parked on a carpad or setback in front of a house unless a garage or cover accompanies it.
San Francisco's planning department initially told the couple the city would waive the fine if they could prove that the lot has historically been used for parking or covers the carpad.
After some deliberation -- and the discovery of a blurry 1938 photo that potentially shows a horse-and-buggy pulling into the driveway of the home -- the planning department legalized parking on the lot. The Craines can continue to park in their spot without penalties or fines thanks to the old photo, which allowed them to be grandfathered into the use of their carpad.
According to Daniel Sider, the chief of staff at the San Francisco Planning Department, the code was enacted for aesthetic reasons.
“San Francisco is the country’s second densest major city, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, walkable, sustainable neighborhoods,” Sider told ABC News. “The design and use of a property’s street frontage plays an important role in supporting those goals, so our rules prioritize entryways, stoops, greenery, and landscaping in front setbacks rather than new parking spaces.”
The planning department was alerted to the Craines' use of their driveway by an anonymous complaint that was lodged against the Craines and two of their neighbors, who were also tagged with the same violation.
"I wrote them back saying I thought this was a mistake," Judy Craine told ABC-affiliate KGO-TV.
Added Ed Craine: "To all of a sudden to be told you can't use something that we could use for years, it's startling. Inexplicable."
The Craines did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment.
Sider said that enforcement of some city codes is typically complaint-based, but the department prioritizes the most impactful ones, “such as unauthorized removal of housing, affordable housing violations, life/safety issues, and unpermitted construction.” Parking in the front setback is a low-priority violation.
“We appreciate the owners’ ongoing cooperation in resolving this matter, and we apologize to them for any inconvenience,” Sider said.