Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

When SFMTA Suddenly Takes Away Parking Spots

When Muni Suddenly Takes Away Parking Spots

Dear Parking Guru,
 
I just received a ticket on Howard between Steuart and The Embarcadero on the South side of the street (the ballpark side). It was for 7.2.25 Red Zone and the fine is $98. There used to be meters here and they suddenly took them away. I was just assuming that they were changing the meters to the new, hungrier meters and that I happened to catch a free day. Much to my chagrin, that was not the case. I cannot figure out why it was for a red zone.  How do I contest this and have half a chance at winning?  Will they just say, "We're right, you're wrong, pay the money, MUNI needs a new pair of shoes"?
 
Keep Up the Good Work,
GS

 
 
Dear GS,
 
There used to be two great car spots and a dedicated motorcycle spot in this location that are no longer legal to park in. Why not?  Because there is a brand new sign on the corner that says "No Parking Anytime".  Remember the 100-foot rule?

But even with the "No Parking" sign, I think you have good grounds for getting the ticket dismissed. Firstly, that sign is posted 15 feet in the air. Not so uncommon in many cases, but in this case the problem is that there is a 15 foot maple tree that is quite prolifically foliating right in front of the new sign.  A lower sign would be the better choice in this situation. But that probably would have meant getting the Department of Parks involved for a tree consultation, and a subsequent change in the work order request, and Lord knows what else, so DPT probably just decided to act alone. There are plenty of "No Parking" signs posted at 6 feet, so I know that this should not have been a problem. I keep applying for jobs at SFMTA because I think it would be fascinating to see how decisions like these are made, but I keep getting rejection letters.
 
Secondly, there is a problem with your "Red Zone" ticket. The curb is not actually painted red. In fact it is not painted at all. It is gray. The curb is only painted red for the 3 feet in front of the fire hydrant up on the corner. This, to people not in the know about the 100-foot rule, might seem like it applies only to the hydrant area.
 
Thirdly, there are still white lines on the street, outlining where the parking spots are. My question to the parking officer last week was, "If it is not a parking spot, then why are there white lines indicating that it is a parking spot?"
 
And lastly, it makes no logical sense to take these spots away. On that stretch of Howard heading East, there are two lanes. One to turn left onto the Embarcadero, and one to turn right onto the Embarcadero.  Taking the parking spaces away does not leave enough room for a third lane. Maybe they are going to make a new parklet. I have no idea. But if the rules are going to change at any spot, and a restrictive sign is going to go up, then all of the other indicators that make it look, sound, feel, and smell like a valid parking spot should also be taken away and not be left behind and misleading people...especially if the sign is going to be installed behind a tree. It doesn't seem fair, and it makes interpreting the traffic laws like a game of TEGWAR (The exciting game without any rules).
 
What I suggest is taking some pics of the three layers of ambiguity and send them in when you contest it. I will bet the farm that you will receive a letter stating that SFMTA has researched the matter and has found the ticket to be valid. But, don't worry when you get this letter, it's not over there. You then have the opportunity to request a traffic hearing to appeal the decision. This will take about two hours of your time and you can present your case in person. So...if you make less than $49 per hour, and/or are a person of principle, it will be worth your while if you win...which I think you will.
 
For more pro tips, tricks, and parking secrets, click here.