The Electric Vehicle Parking Spot Conundrum

September 9, 2022

           Labor Day weekend in Truckee/Lake Tahoe is over. Take a deep breath. The Tesla caravan has rolled west, joining the alkaline-shined Burning Man jalopies. A confluence of debutantes and the dusty. A true California congregation, if ever there was one.

           The exodus of excess brings some semblance of normalcy back to the Sierra. Well, at the very least, the prospect of parking re-enters the realm of possibility. Over the weekend, an open parking spot was as rare as the California grizzly bear. Unless, of course, you drive one of those newfangled electric vehicles.

           In parking lots across the region, electric vehicle charging stations are popping up like dandelions. And unless you can plug in, you are left out. Fossil fuel fossils circle lots eyeing those empty “EV” spots with envy and anger. Scarcity erodes sanity. Eventually survival instinct prevails. Drivers of internal combustion engines (ICE) park in electrical vehicle spots – a transgression techies have termed, “ICEing.”

           ICEing has made headlines of late. Drivers of the ubiquitous Tesla are pitted in real or perceived parking (read, “cultural”) clashes with drivers of the ubiquitous lifted truck. This has led to many a nasty incident and pages upon pages of collective hand wringing on Tesla owner forums. But know this: park in an “EV” spot spewing exhaust, and hell hath no fury like a Tesla driver’s scorn.

            Standoffs in the streets? The Wild West? Not quite. There is law. California Vehicle Code section 22511 authorizes municipalities and private owners to designate parking spaces for the “exclusive purpose of charging and parking a vehicle that is connected for electric charging purposes.” The same Vehicle Code section permits municipalities and private owners to tow non-charging vehicles from the designated spots. Express and conspicuous signage is, of course, a mandated prerequisite to dragging cars out of lots.

            Toe the line or be towed. But towing takes time and effort. And businesses aren’t particularly inclined to leave their customers carless. There is then a risk vs. reward calculus. Endlessly circle the lot with screaming kids in the back seat or uncouthly cop the Tesla spot. Choose the latter and suffer the consequences. An onslaught of “environmental traitor” accusations and honed glares of condescension are certain, even if towing is not. Save yourself the pain, park your big truck in the dirt somewhere. Or ride a bus or bike. Or just stay home. It’s crazy out there.

Ravn R. Whitington is a partner at Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada. Ravn is a member of the firm’s Trial Practice Group where he focuses on all aspects of civil litigation. He has a diverse background in trial practice ranging from complex business disputes to personal injury to construction law, and all matters in between. He may be reached at or ©2022