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April 2, 2009

WC Parking meter matters (Part 2): Lost my appeal over my complaint after getting ticketed on President’s Day. Oh well.


Just as KGO810 radio host and legal expert Len Tillem aired his analysis of the (non) enforcement power of private parking lot operators in downtown Walnut Creek, I received word that I had lost my appeal of the parking ticket I received from the city on President’s Day.

In a previous post, I griped about receiving a ticket in front of the Starbucks on Locust Street on Presidents Day, February 16. That day had been designated both a national and city holiday. I made the assumption that I didn’t have to feed coins into the meter that Monday, after reading the sign in the window portion of the meter, saying that payment was required on all days “except Sundays and holidays.” There is a secondary sign on the meter that explains that only six days in the calendar year are designated “meter holidays,” and the city only gives motorists a pass on those “meter holidays.”

I wrote a letter to the city’s Parking Enforcement Center essentially saying that:


--The sign in the upper window portion of the meter (about Sundays & holidays being exempted) led me to the very reasonable assumption that I didn’t need to worry about feeding coins into the meter this day.

--The signage of the meters, certainly the Locust Street meter at which I was ticketed, is misleading, vague, inconsistent, and fails to give motorists fair warning of certain specific conditions. If the top portion of the meter states “Except Sundays & Holidays,” but the city has designated “meter holidays,” the sign in this top window of the meter should give motorists fair warning.

--If the sign stated “except for Sundays and holidays specified below,” it would direct motorists to check the secondary signs on the meter which list the city’s designated meter holidays, which, I later discovered, did not include Presidents Day.

Well, the city’s Parking Enforcement Center disagreed with my analysis, as stated in a letter I received.

“Meters are enforced Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.," the letter said. "Sundays and meter holidays (New Year’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day) are exempted. The hours of operation and days meters are enforced are indicated on the meter head. "

The letter said the hours of operation and days meters are enforced are indicated on the meter head, and my citation was being upheld because “Presidents Day is not a meter holiday.”

So, I can pay $35 or continue the appeal process and fill out some more paperwork and request an in-person hearing with a hearing officer.

My husband told me to just pay the ticket. And I did.


I understand the city’s analysis. I also think the city needs to improve the signage on its meters. I decided not to pursue the matter further not because I think the city is entirely right. I'm giving up for the sake pf convenience. My husband’s convenience—and my own. Like a lot of us, I’m busy with work, family, and whatever I do with Crazy in Suburbia. For those who think I should have fought some more, I’m sorry to give up.


For those who thought I should just suck it up and accept my punishment, well, I’ve decided to do that.

But, I’ll get in a last word. (It’s my blog, and that’s my prerogative.) I still think the city should look at its parking policies. They annoy people, turn them off, make them not want to come to Walnut Creek to shop, dine, be entertained. Many see these policies as aggressive and a sign that the city think it's better than any place else.


In some cases--as in issuing tickets on a federal holiday like Presidents Day--these policies are mercenary, IMHO. Is the bad PR that the city receives worth the $$$ it might earn from ticket violations? Especially in these tough economic times, when the city might not be getting the retail and dining traffic it has long counted on.

Should the city reconsider which holidays it designates as “meter holidays” and make them more consistent with federal, state, or city-designated holidays?

These are among the questions that I think are worth asking.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

As has been noted many times, the holidays are clearly listed on the parking meter. How you think this is vague is beyond me. Other cities don't even list the holidays, specifically I know San Francisco does not.

Anonymous said...

Well my take on it was when you called City Hall to speak with someone and they were out for the "holiday" as were many others, then, yes, it should be a meter holiday as well. It is either a city holiday or not, which is it?! Yes, it said it was not on the meter and that's what's going to get you, but the descrepancy of the "holidays" is what gets to me. That coupled with the fact that they are a bunch of lions ready to pounce down there as soon as the meter goes off, it turns into a huge turn off. I can't begin to tell you the number of people who will not shop in WC just due to the parking issue. Does the city not realize they are turning away consumers? This is not the market to do this in for sure.

Mom's Exhausted said...

I know why they didn't let you win the appeal. Because if they did it for you, they would have to do it for everyone else. They probably already read the blog, and were afraid of letting the word out.

I think Walnut Creek is way mixed up in their Parking meter holidays, top of the list! A BIG TURN OFF for consumers. My family even dined in WC later in the day. The area looked abandoned. No people out at all, and we were the only customers in the entire restaurant. I would have been very disgruntled had I received a parking ticket that day.

Bad for Walnut Creek.

Anonymous said...

Any lawyer would tell you you didn't have a case. I don't get it. Do you think just because you have this blog you're entitled to be outside the law? This is how you come across. I know you like to stir the antigovernment fires. But come on.... The meters are marked.

Soccer Mom said...

A couple things:
First, something I didn't mention in my post, but should have is that YESTERDAY, I got ANOTHER TICKET. And, no, I'm not mad about it. I'm not going to rant about it, or contest it, and the Walnut Creek parking enforcement officer handing the ticket out to me was friendly about it.
I parked on the street to go to a regular meeting I have in downtown. A meeting that has NEVER in the past taken longer than half an hour. I fed the meter for one hour, sure I was safe.
Well, I got to talking with the people I was meeting with. Turned out to be a nice talk, so the meeting went on longer than expected.
I returned to my space, probably about a minute after my time ran out, and JUST as the WC parking enforcement officer was printing the ticket. I said, "Oh shoot!" And he apologized, saying that once he prints the ticket, he has to give it out. We actually laughed about it... (I don't think my husband will be laughing.)
Second, to 7:17 a.m. Maybe I'd have a case with my earlier ticket. Maybe not. Two different signs on the meter say two different things. Lawyers can pick over wording when they really want to. (Maybe I should call Len Tillem.)
Third, to 7:17 a.m: Having a blog does not make me feel entitled to act outside the law.
I'm not going to contest the ticket I received yesterday. It was fair and square...
But I do question the city's meter holiday policy. If the city gives itself a holiday on certain days, it should do the same for people who come into its downtown to spend money.
Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

"If the city gives itself a holiday on certain days, it should do the same for people who come into its downtown to spend money."

Then you should be petitioning to have the signs on the meters replaced to reflect more holidays, not to have yours rescinded.

Anonymous said...

Soccer Mom...Keep on keepin' on!

Anonymous said...

Soccer Mom,

Sorry you got another parking rag, at least you have a good attitude about it, which is more than I can say for a lot of people.

I agree that the holiday policy is confusing at best, and the City should do more to clarify when you need to feed the meters and not regarding holidays. Personally, I think ALL holidays should be meter holidays, but I'm just a peon that works for WCPD, my opinion doesn't count.

Anonymous said...

"and the City should do more to clarify when you need to feed the meters and not regarding holidays."

More than writing it on the meter itself? How about a note on the other side, "Hey dum dum, read the other side of the meter". I can't believe there are people here who find this so confusing.

Anonymous said...

Personally, as a resident of this city, I think they should give every one of us a WC decal for free parking. Really, you need to hit up your own citizens for fines? Sure makes me want to shop elsewhere when the city I support through volunteer work for both the community and local public schools, etc. can't support me in return, instead nickel and diming me ever chance they get. I'll gladly go the PH or Concord.

Pokey said...

It could be worse. I heard on the radio today that San Francisco is looking into extending meter hours to 10 p.m. and increasing the meter cost!

Anonymous said...

I think you have a legitimate point, I just received 2 parking tickets in one day from the same officer, only 4 hours apart- that is excessive. I am so pist off I am going to appeal it. I'll let you how it goes. The parking patrol in down town totally deters me from wanting to come back and shop. The police are supposed to be building a positive rapport with the public, thats why they have put together community policing and such. Their parking ticketing procedures totally defeat the purpose!