My Skoolie Conversion of Bubba the Bus: The DMV Part 1:Bus Life As A Solo Female Traveler

Transferring a title from any state to California, requires patience, tenacity and the occasional shot of bourbon. I was prepared for the myriad of hoops I would soon be jumping through to get Bubba California ready. I loaded a 600+ page book onto my Kindle, I took a bath with CBD oils, did yoga and deep breathing. I was ready for the California Division of Motor Vehicles.

Make no mistake: California is expensive and San Francisco holds the honor of being the most expensive city in the country, leaving other major cities in the dust. New York? I think not. Los Angeles? Not even close. Chicago? Puleez.

When transferring a title to our fine state, the first requirement is to have a physical vehicle inspection; which is exactly what it sounds like. You make an appointment and take said vehicle to a person who physically inspects it, takes notes and gives you a list of things to accomplish in order to get your tags.

I have been researching this project for the past two years and had a pretty good idea what my list would contain: weight, smog, and fees.

When the inspector arrived, I chatted amiably with him, discussing my dream of a tiny home, how I drove him from Nashville and other details. I commented that I thought he would weigh about 8500 lbs. (He still had all his seats at this time.) The inspector checked various numbers and decals, scribbled notes on his pad and told me that he estimated my transfer fee to be about $391.00. He handed me the paper that instructed me to get weight and smog and return with my fees to get my tags. $391.00 is a chunk of change; but, it could have been worse.

I spent the next couple of weeks fulfilling the obligations on the list. On August 31st, I returned to the DMV with all my paperwork, and joined the other hundreds of people in a line that stretched around the block.

Bubba the Bus goes to the DMV

It was a beautiful day and I still had plenty of pages to read in my book. Side Note: I am reading The Son by Philipp Meyer, which has since become an AMC series starring Pierce Brosnan. It is an epic saga, part Texas, part coming-of-age story and part unflinching examination of the bloody price of power. It is a really good book.

The Son by Phillip Meyer

A couple of hours later, they called G037, and I approached the counter, with a bounce in my step. I handed my folder of paperwork to him, he looked it over approvingly and commented on how I had everything in order, to which I responded, I am a Virgo.

“Now, your fees are going to go up a little,” he remarked, and turned to retrieve a form. My forehead broke into a sweat and the voice inside my head began praying to the Angels, Ascended Masters and John Lennon; ‘please keep the fees under $500.00; please keep the fees under $500.00; please keep the fees under $500.00’. Then the reasoning voice chimed in; ‘he said ‘a little’, that can’t be more than $50.00 or $100.00, said ‘a little’, said ‘a little’, said ‘a little’. My internal conversation continued. He returned and handed me the new fee sheet.

“OK, so they estimated the weight of the vehicle at 2,000 lbs.; and it weighs 7080. That is about 5,000 lb. difference. So, the new fees are $1360.00.” He delivered the statement as simply as if he was ordering a grilled cheese.

Tears sprung to my eyes; I stared at him. “2,000 lbs.?” I say. “No car weighs 2,000 lbs–well, maybe a Smart Car, but, I told them it would probably weight 8500. How could a ‘vehicle inspector‘ possibly think a bus is going to weigh 2000 lbs? More to the point, $391.00 to $1360.00 is more than a ‘little bit.‘”

Bubba the Bus gets weighed

He notices my wet eyes, alarm registers on his face. “Please don’t cry,” he begins to plead. “Let me see what I can do.” He leaves and returns with a woman, who keys in a stroke on the keyboard; new fees $830.00. My tears were worth over $500.00. I am grateful, however, I explain that I didn’t have $1360.00; I don’t have $830.00. I have $391.00, which is what I was told.

For those who don’t know how San Francisco works; parking is at a premium–it is scarce and in high demand. Parking Bubba on the street, without tags is a HUGE risk. If he gets towed, I will never get him back. Why? Parking is fiercely enforced and if a tow truck shows up–(without ever hooking up, just showing up); it is a $1000.00 fee; which quickly escalates by the hour; not the month, not the week, not the day…the HOUR. The fees become exorbitant so fast, that many people don’t retrieve their autos, which then end up at monthly auctions for a fraction of their cost; but even there, the city fees will be paid by the winning bidder. Some people have garages or private stalls, and street parking is not a concern. I do not.

Knowing this about my City by the Bay; I ask for a trip permit—which allows you to park on the street for a limited time, while you get the ‘vehicle inspectors‘ requirements met; smog/weight. I do not qualify, as I have completed those ‘trips‘. I ask for a ‘non-op‘ permit, but, I do not qualify as Bubba is fully operational.

I left the DMV, tagless and permitless. However, being the resourceful woman that I am, thnk Better Call Saul--(BTW: IF you haven’t seen this show, stop what you are doing and start binging now)–but, I did come up with an alternate solution.

In two weeks, I will have the remaining $430.00 and Bubba will be tagged.

Until next time….

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