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When Parking Backwards is the Law in Sacramento

Do you have this crazy notion in your town? The one where the sign tells you that you have to park BACKWARDS????

parking backwards, sacramento

Yeah, that’s right. You must park backwards. Er, excuse me… “back-in only angled parking”.

Who ever heard of such a thing?

Nevertheless, I followed the stupid sign. Although, you could totally miss it. Do you see the sign in this picture?


parking, sacramento, backwards, back-in parking

Nobody’s going to see the sign and even though the parking spots are angled for you to back in instead of swinging around to pull in forward, and even though a few people get it, many people don’t.


sacramento, parking, midtown sacramento

All these people above (except me on the very left) are totally breaking the law. In fact, I submit that anybody parking there the correct way are only doing so because they learned the law via parking ticket.

There must be some reason for marking the street in this manner and when I say “street”, I mean one single street for one single block in all of “The Grid” that makes up 1st thru 29th Streets between A to W Streets in downtown/midtown Sacramento. I don’t see this silly business happening anywhere else in town except for this one block.

This block (I want to say it’s on 28th between R and S, you know, over by Temple Coffee and Revolution Wines but don’t hold me to that) is either a test market for what will eventually spread throughout the city, becoming the new WTF Freaky Parking Law, because Sacramento is desperate to become the national leader in something so why not this… or, it’s a conspiracy to raise funds for the city because as you can see, half the people who park there do so illegally and at that rate, Sacramento can finally buy that fur coat its always wanted.

Oh sure, you could say it’s a safety thing, but who cares about safety, really?

When I pulled in backwards and got finished taking those pictures, I saw the parking enforcement scooter baby car putt-putt thingie coming around the corner getting ready to swoop in like a vulture with his Barney Fife swagger and the parking ticket voucher pad in his holster.

I walked into Revolution Wines where our mostly-monthly writer’s social event (aka Writers Who Wine) occurs and I approached a friend of mine:

“Say,” I said, even though nobody talks like that in real life, “is that little red car yours?”

She looked me in the eye as if I were psychic and told her something her late great great grandfather said that only she and he would know. “…yes?…,” she warily replied.

I explained about the new WTF Freaky Parking Law for that one block and how Barney Fife had already begun unholstering his parking ticket voucher pad and don’t bother running out there you’re paying for that spot now you may as well keep it there.

The previous month, Barney Fife was at it as well and it prompted a Facebook post from one of us about getting a ticket, so the next month, I had my camera at the ready. I knew I had to tell you guys about it and ask you if your town has such a thing as backwards parking, er, back-in only angled parking (with the step-by-step instructions on the sign and everything) and if they do, do they have it for .000001% of your city as well?

Later that evening when I left, sure enough, Barney Fife had left behind a gift for all the outlaws like a cat leaves a barely alive grasshopper in one’s bedroom for one to step in when one crawls sleepily out of one’s bed.


parking ticket, sacramento


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  1. eruzich says:

    We have backwards parking in one random section of Salt Lake City.  It’s supposed to prevent harm to the bicyclists that people don’t see when they are backing out of a spot where they parked the regular way.  But in order to park backwards you risk the lives of everyone, not just bikers so the system is really flawed.

    The parking cops really irritated me a few weeks ago when they had the holiday signs on all the meters stating that parking was free at 8:30am on Jan. 3rd when I went to the gym but when I came out the cop said it was no longer applicable starting at 8:00am that day.  Which I should have known how???

    1. Wow! What a PITA for you!  So our parking people aren’t the only crazy ones?

  2. J. Bear Savo says:

    Next there’ll be laws about how many napkins one can use in a restaurant.

    No backward-angle parking laws here. However, in Olyphant, PA, it is illegal to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. In fact, if we see people crossing the street while we’re driving, we’re encourage to speed up and try to hit them.

    1. Yeah, that sounds about right. Olyphant? Really? Oh, there’s so many places to go with that one. But I’ll bet you’ve heard them all.

  3. He, I just noticed your Jaguar ad at the bottom there. If I click on it and buy a Jaguar do you get a commission? 

    I’m not going to buy a Jaguar but that would be totally cool if someone did and you got an awesome commission.

    I am not drinking. 

    1. I have no idea. That thing down there has a life of its own and I don’t get anything out of the ads. It’s just a partnership I have with Sacramento Connect.

  4. First off, I read that Barney Fife was upholstering and thought that was pretty cool. Our pretend cops are not nearly as fashion conscious as they are in Sacramento but I suspect that might be because you are near San Francisco (fuck, writing a comment on your blog is like walking through a mine field. Is it just me? There are way too many words I want to use or that you use and I must address that are impossible to spell correctly. I seriously do not do this on purpose.)

    1. Well at least you didn’t mention parking your “Tuscan” backwards. (or is that one of the words you were trying to avoid?)

      1. Totally trying too avoid using *that* word.

  5. Rootietoot says:

    Are Sacramento drivers polite, so they’ll hang back far enough to allow you room to back into the space? Savannah drivers are not, so I have trouble imagining how this could possibly work, even if you were capable of doing it.

    1. RuEtta says:

      Hahaha! Polite is not a word I would use to describe Sacramento Drivers.

    2. I heard somewhere that Sacramento drivers were known to be friendly and I couldn’t disagree more.

  6. WOW… we have no angle signs, much less BACKWARDS ones!   WOW!  Virginia parkers STINK!

    1. So maybe a positive spin on this is that Sacramento is the INNOVATOR on this initiative. 😉

  7. Ruth says:

    My mother in law actually does start sentences with “Say,…” Quite often. She even uses it in text messages and on voicemail.

    1. She does? Text messages? But that’s just so…inefficient. 😉 

  8. RuEtta says:

    Margaret, you, of all people, should be able to recognize this as So Sacramento. No other city in the world would be this ridiculous. Just like no other city names their major sports arena after some bankrupt, hocus pocus magic bracelet. These are strictly Sacramento things.

    1. You know, RuEtta, I try to bite my tongue when I’m about to point out yet another silly thing that Sacto has pulled, but they just keep lobbing me softballs.

  9. Joanna Jenkins says:

    That’s crazy.  I’ve never heard or seen such a thing and I seriously doubt it’s on the CA driving test. Grrrrr.  It’s so unfair.
    xo jj

    1. I know, right? If it’s not on the DMV parking test how the bajeebus do they expect us to park there with any competence?

  10. taradharma says:

    that is the goofiest parking arrangement ever.  and so close to my home.  i’ll have to drive down there just for the pleasure of parking backwards.  Sac parking nazis recently ‘got me’ for parking outside the lines (parallel pkg space).  I was one wheel-width over the line, which, btw, was covered in leaves.  Which means, yes, the parking person had to physically sweep the leaves away (probably with their foot) in order to tell I was over the line.  Well, the city got $47 out of it.

    1. Damn those parking nazis. (excuse my French, or German, or whatever)

  11. Angela Knutsen says:

    I don’t do backwards in a car (my husband would say I don’t do forwards too well either).  i’d have too find a place miles away that I could drive into and out of – forwards

    1. So I guess parallel parking is also out of the question?

  12. Lisa says:

    I’ve never seen these before, but I’ll make a mental note to avoid them because me backing into an angled parking spot=bad news for the entire city of Sacramento. Yes. That’s exactly how bad it would be. 

    1. Well, I’m just glad I’m not the only one who thinks this is a foreign concept.

  13. Elaine Corn says:

    Margaret, you should write this fleshed out for the Op-Ed page. I saw all the cars parked backwards as I approached our meeting and thought all the ass-backward cars were owned by scofflaws.

    1. That’s a good idea, Elaine. Thanks!

  14. Nora Blithe says:

    “like a cat leaves a barely alive grasshopper in one’s bedroom for one to step in when one crawls out of bed.”  Eeeek!  You should read my blog post about the time my cat left a live roach in my bed.  While I was in it.  It includes strong language but duh, there was a live roach in my bed.

  15. Linda R. says:

    I hope we never see the likes of that here.  I can neither back in park nor parallel park with any degree of success.  If they want angled parking why not angle them the other way and folks can just slide right in.  Oh wait, then they would be backing out into the street.  Ah, it is better to pull past your space and back into it.  I see…not!

  16. Nezzy says:

    Dang , if that don’t sound like one great revenue income for the town!!! 

    We have some signs ’round these parts (usually near lakes) that are posted waaaay up in trees.  There’s no way a driver can see ’em but that sure doesn’t stop ‘Andy’ from giftin’ a ticket to ya!!!

    Always a nice surprise when comin’ off the lake!  Heeehehehe!

    God bless ya sweetie, ya had me rollin’!!!

    Have a super ticket~free day!!!

    1. I will do my best, Cow Patty Lady. You have a good one!

  17. Slommler says:

    Now that ranks right up there…right along…root canals and taxes!!
    What a crazy law!!

  18. Jane says:

    Of course, I blame Revolution Wines.  They can do nothing right as far as I’m concerned.

  19. Random Chick says:

    City planners are super smart. Aren’t they?

  20. Pricilla says:

    The publicist says that when she used to drive she would have walked 10 blocks rather than deal with that. No parallel parking, no freaky back in parking.
    She’s a country parker

    1. Is that the parking that involves 4-wheeling it onto someone’s lawn? 🙂

      1. Pricilla says:

        No, that’s parking where you don’t have to back up, inch forward, back up and inch forward to get in a stupid space. It’s where you have lots of space around you where you park. maybe she’s remembering the old days when there were more people than cars…..she’s old you know

  21. Jayne says:

    What do you want to bet someone will try to pin this on Obama?

    1. Ha!! It’s only a matter of time.

  22. annie jones says:

    Never heard of Back in Only parking. If I had it would be called Back in, Realize you are Way Too Close, Pull Forward then Back In Again Parking. First visit to your blog but knew I’d return the minute I saw the title – I mean how could I resist the chance to utter the sentence: I follow Nanny Goats in Panties?

    1. You are so right! Like I told Ms Chick above, it would be like trying to write with your other hand.  And welcome to NGIP, my dear!

  23. Geesh… that looks harder than parallel parking!  

    1. They should totally have a class, I’m telling you!

  24. Ms. Chick74 says:

    I talked to someone about that block within the last few months…it’s bizarre and stupid.  I can back into a parallel spot, not problem, but an angled spot?  It goes against common sense.  

    1. I know! Parking in one of those spots backwards is like trying to write with your other hand.

  25. VenomsCrown says:

    Do you think this insanity might have been conjured up by the same brains that invented the car that parks itself?
    Food for thought. 

    1. That wouldn’t surprise me. 🙂

  26. jennifer kennedy says:

    my friend lives in the lofts that used to be the old Globe Mills (12th & C) and same thing. i backed in b/c it made sense (like you said the stripes are angled for you to back in) but he pointed out the actual sign that says you’re supposed to back in. otherwise i’d have never seen it….

    i agree i think its a revenue generator for the city…

    1. What’s funny about them to me is that they have these instructions. Maybe they need to offer a class. 😉

  27. Anonymous says:

    There’s one other spot. I can’t remember the exact space but it’s around F and 11th I think. Somewhere in that area.

    1. I wonder why it’s so random like that.

      1. Anonymous says:

        I drove past it this morning. F between 12th and 11th.

  28. Um… that’s totally insane.

    The only other time, I’ve ever heard of “back-in only parking”  was during a Seinfeld episode when George argued you cannot parallel park HEAD FIRST .

    Seriously though, that sign about “back-in only angled parking” really needs to be in a place where EVERYONE can see it, otherwise people are just going to keep getting parking  tickets. And that’s totally UNCOOL.

    1. Leave it to you to reference Seinfeld. I totally remember that scene.