A Parking Rule Even SFMTA Doesn't Know


Dear Parking Guru,
I have been soooo good and haven't gotten a parking ticket in a long while, I've done everything that you said and I'm more than a step ahead of the parking police, but I just received a $72 parking ticket for violation "7.2.23 - Over Limit Meter Violation" and I am really po'd for several reasons. Number one, when did tickets for a meter violation become 72 effin dollars? Secondly, I thought you were allowed to park at a broken meter for free. Can I contest this ticket?
Yours Truly,
PO'd in SF

Dear PO'd

Sorry to hear about your ticket, and I can understand your emotions. Seventy-two smackers is a significant chunk of change. Those of you who disagree, please send $72 to David LaBua, care of 7x7 Magazine.
On any given day, there are 300-500 broken meters on the streets of San Francisco, so this situation pertains to several thousand people a day.
To answer your first question, parking tickets for a downtown expired meter violation went up from $65 to $72 on July 1, 2012 at 12:00 AMwhile most of us were sleeping or otherwise occupied. I often wonder what the citizenry's breaking point will be for a parking ticket? I thought it was going to be $100, but there are a few tickets that just went over $100 this fiscal year, and I haven't received a call to arms memo for the parking revolt, so I am now guessing that the breaking point is going to be $200.
To answer your second question, I have good news. The SFMTA website states: If a meter is broken you are allowed to park at that meter for the posted time limit. But actually, this is not entirely true. Not knowing the rest of the law could result in a ticket. Many people, even parking officers, are unaware of the ordinance that was passed by the Board of Supervisors on June 14, 2011 that amended the limit for parking at an inoperable meter. It set a max time of 2 hours. It was rationalized that because some of the new electronic meters now allow drivers to park for up to two hours, vandalism to make them inoperable would be encouraged. So, you are allowed to park at a broken meter, but, only for the posted time limit (or if trumped by another street restriction sign), or two hours max, whichever comes first.
Of course, the answer to a parking question never quite stops there, so here is the rest of the answer to the question. If you parked at one of the new meters that accept coins, the SFMTA Smart Card, and/or a credit card, and the card feature was malfunctioning, you are still required to put coins in the meter.  If coins are not making the meter work, then and only then are you allowed to park at it without paying.
So, there you have it. Now, all you have to do is simply state in a brief letter contesting the citation that the meter was broken, and that you are allowed by law to park there for the maximum limit posted, or 2 hours max.
This does open up a can of worms, though, for SFMTA. If anyone has received a ticket for parking at a broken meter for over 2 hours, at a broken meter that allows 4-hour parking, according to the law your citation was warranted, but according to the SFMTA website, updated May 23, 2012, you committed no violation...then you have a good argument, and your ticket should be dismissed.
If you'd like to know more about parking than those who enforce the parking rules, please click here

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