Danielle Steel has just completed her 54th book, and more than 470 million copies of her romance novels have been sold worldwide. But back home in San Francisco, she's become known for a different kind of excess--as the holder of 26 residential parking permits.

The city issues permits that allow residents of particular neighborhoods to park in scarce curbside spaces for more than two hours. Until recently, it allowed residents to buy an unlimited number of permits for an annual fee of $27 each. The fact that Steel can legally take up a lot of spots in her clogged Pacific Heights neighborhood has attracted international attention.

The origins of the controversy, however, can be traced to a less famous fellow named Robert Kendrick, who became well known in an upscale neighborhood near Steel's because of his 22 permits. Not only can he park a lot of cars but most of his are junkers. Neighbors complained that they saw Kendrick push his disabled cars to other spots--or use chains to pull them--to avoid fines during street cleanings.

The permits, of course, were not intended to allow residents to hog spaces but rather to give them a better chance of snagging spaces near their homes. Residents' complaints eventually received the attention of the city's Board of Supervisors, which voted in May to limit the number of new permits per household to four. There are about 300 households that currently hold more than four, including those of Kendrick and Steel. Since the limitation was not made retroactive, they're all allowed to keep their extras.