Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

How to Get Back Your $500 from SFMTA

Dude, Where's My Car?

Dear Parking Guru,
 
"Dude, where is my car?" Towed! The citation said, “Temp. No Pking sign.”  I’m kicking myself because I was going to check on it on the day before it was towed, leading me to believe a lot of times these temporary No Parking signs go up on the Friday before the weekend.
 
Anyways, I am thinking of asking for a hearing, and the sole purpose would be to see that specific temporary sign's application paperwork and determine if there are any problems with it.
 
So my questions are:
What would I expect in the hearing?
Will they provide that paperwork for review? (temporary signs where not there when I went back).
If so, any ideas on what to look for to dispute the relevancy of the application?
Or should I let it go as just another unjustified and over-penalized tow?
 
Love your column,
$500 Lighter in my wallet
 
 
Dear $500 Lighter,
 
Sorry to hear about your unexpected cash hemorrhage, especially when you followed the rules. You seem to be taking it better than most. And I also see that you are familiar with the "Where is my car?" flowchart.

I do think you should request a hearing because of that. I’m assuming that you parked in your residential area and have a sticker. Temporary no parking signs are a great service to people.
 
But these signs are supposed to be posted at least 72 hours before the time that they go into effect. That 72 hours is in direct correlation to the 72-hour law, which states that any car parked on the street for more than 72 hours will be considered abandoned, and towed. Not every car that is parked for 72 hours will get towed. Someone has to report it, a neon orange warning sticker is placed on the glass (be careful motorcyclists, you just get a little barcode on your gastank), and then the 72 hours begins. I’ve parked my car for more than 72 hours, but I always watched out for the sticker, or had someone watch it for me when I was out of town.


A written request will more than likely result in a semi-auto response saying that “the citation was properly issued and is valid.” Ignore that, appeal the appeal, and request a tow hearing. At the hearing, you will more than likely find a reasonable person who knows the rules, has heard it all, will be fair, and has overturned many a citation. In fact, in 2010, 55% of tickets that were appealed a second time ended up getting dismissed.
 
Here’s your game plan:
Look at the time that your ticket was issued. Remember the time that it was when you parked and give details or supporting detailed evidence of that, even if nothing is on paper. If that time is less than 72 hours, then your ticket should be dismissed–because you were supposed to have at least 72 hours notice. Let the administrator know that you know the rules, are a reader of this column and therefore always diligently look up and down the block 100 feet in each direction for any restrictive sign.
 
Plan B is to make sure that there was an application filed for the address at which you received the ticket. You are entitled to this info. Ask them who posted the sign. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received with proof that the sign was not up 72 hours in advance. A quick solution to this would be for the sign poster to take nine seconds to take a quick photo of the posted sign from across the street and then email it to the SFMTA Temporary No Parking Sign evidence mailbox.
 
This would kill two flocks of birds…the citation givers and the citation receivers. It would save both groups a lot of times as well. When someone protests, they would include a copy of the picture, and you lose. If you protest and there is no picture of the sign posted 72 hours before, then you win.
 
Good luck Mr. -500. I hope you get back to zero. Let me know how it works out and if I can be of any more help.
 
For a plethora and a half of little known parking tips, tricks, and secrets, click here. To check out the beta version (version 2.0 launches in 2 weeks) of the app that knows all of the rules and also guides you to available parking by voice, click here.