If you have a car in San Francisco (or any big city) you know that parking can be a royal pain in the ass. To my mind, this is the one big negative about city living. I've heard the statistic that there are seven cars (or is it nine?) for every available spot in San Francisco.
In some parts of the city, parking isn't a problem. For example, when we lived on Harrison Street in the Mission (bordering Potrero) there were miles and miles of parking. Our only worry was paying attention to which side of the street to park on so we didn't get a "street cleaning ticket."
In other parts, like North Beach, Lower Nob Hill, Russian Hill, or Pacific Heights, parking is a challenge. Peruse the "parking wanted" section on Craigslist and you'll see what I mean.
When you live here, you learn to play the parking game.
You learn to carry lots of quarters for the parking meters. Sometimes a quarter will buy you as little as 7.5 minutes. I wonder when SF will step into the 21st century and get those snazzy, solar-powered parking meters like Portland has. I guess they're keeping the town "retro" for when Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson remake "The Streets of San Francisco" (with cameo by Michael Douglas, of course).
You learn to go out downtown at 6:00PM sharp when the metered parking becomes free, and you stake out your spot at 5:55PM with hazards flashing.
You shop at places that offer free parking or that has a garage that validates.
You know which restaurants have valet parking.
You are prepared to pay $10 for parking when you see a movie making "date night" a $100 affair when you add in the cost of the movie and paying a sitter for two kids.
You find street parking and then repeat the location over and over again so you don't forget where you parked the next day.
You know all the places that have short curbs between driveways where your car and only your car will fit.
You know the differences between white, blue, and green painted curbs.
You know a "real" red-painted curb from the ones that homeowners and landlords paint themselves to discourage people from parking so that their cars hang over into their driveways.
You accept that double-parking is a part of life sometimes.
You accept that parking illegally in someone's driveway while you run into a shop is part of life sometimes.
You accept that probably none of the schools your child will ever attend will have a parking lot dedicated to parent parking, and the schools have come up with elaborate pick-up/drop-off schemes to cope with this reality.
Maybe you ditch the car in favor of public transport, City Car Share, or walking or biking (no easy feat on all these hills.)
Or swear your next place will have a garage. No just a space. Yeah, even a tandem space is fine.
Until then, you keep several taxi numbers on your speed dial so you can take a cab instead of giving up your precious parking space.