Dear Parking Guru,
Last Saturday I was driving down Broadway toward its intersection with Columbus and I saw a single vacant parking spot on the corner (every other spot was taken). It was about 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday night in North Beach, I thought, wow I am lucky to get this spot.
Later when I came back from the restaurant, my car was missing. It was towed by AutoReturn. I checked the meter. The sign on the meter said that it was in effect only from 9 am to 6 pm, so, WTF? I found out later there was a sign way down the street that stated, "Towing after 8 p.m.".
My question: Is there any way for me to fight the towing ticket based on the fact that I was deliberately mislead by parking authorities? Is this not a clever misleading trap for a motorist? Any person with common sense could have parked there, couldn't they?
I investigated the scene of the crime. The info on the meter did indicate that it was in effect only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. And, when you were there, every other spot was taken and the other cars were parked at similar meters, so I totally can understand how you thought that you had struck gold. There were two non-obvious and non-common sensical things that got you towed.
The first thing that got you was the unique parking restrictions for those few blocks on Broadway. There is no parking from 8 pm Friday until 4 am Saturday, and from 8 pm Saturday until 4 am Sunday. In essence, there is no parking Friday and Saturday nights. I believe that this is due to the large police presence in the red light district on weekend nights, and that's a very convenient and central location to park their paddy wagons.
That sign was posted down the street from where you parked as you said, so here is the second thing that got you - The 100–foot rule. I believe that this little known rule must be responsible for at least 25% of all parking tickets issued.
The law states that, "...each sign's enforcement zone extends for 100 feet in each direction." The only point I can see that might be a good defense for getting a ticket like Ivan did is that there is no sign posted anywhere in the City that states this 100 foot law.
However, not knowing about it might be a well-oiled defense mechanism of parking denial. We finally find a parking spot, pull in, no red curb, no driveway, no hydrant, no loading zone. We park, lock the door, and go about our business...excellent!
We don't want anything to ruin this moment, this victory, our victory, one for the little man, an opalescent ray of sunshine spotlighting us. We don't want, nor can we bear to see any restriction that will rip this victory out of our clutches. We all know that feeling. And, as a result, I believe that we, as a collective psyche, have driven the 100–foot rule deep into our unconscious mind.
Here's how to avoid falling prey to this law: When you park, take a minute to look up and down your side of the street to see if there are any signs within 100 feet, and then heed their warning.
Even though there is not a sign right where you park, you must take a look up and down the block for 100 feet to be sure that there are no enforceable signs. Most people don't carry tape measures in their glove compartment (except for my brother and I for this very reason), so here is a good rule of thumb: the average car is perhaps 15 feet long, so checking for parking signs seven or eight car lengths in each direction from where you parked, should be about 100 feet.
The good news is, you can use this rule to your advantage. In some situations, this is a slam dunk way to get a parking ticket thrown out. If the sign which was responsible for your ticket was more than 100 feet away, it is not enforceable.
More good news is that there are spots all over the City that are 100+ feet away from any restrictive signs and therefore are completely free to park in (for 72 hours). They are hidden in plain sight. I've created a secret page on the website that lists many of these spots. In order to see the list, simply share a golden spot that you found, and then you get access to all of the spots all over the City that that were shared by others.
For more tips and tricks, or to ask a question, click here.
It's no secret that parking in the city is a bitch. So we've enlisted local parking guru and author of Finding the Sweet Spot, David LaBua, to dish out weekly tips on navigating the ins and outs of city parking.