A few hours ago our parking guru David LaBua, author of Finding the Sweet Spot, provided you with a little parking pop quiz. Here, he explains the answers and all the loopholes to avoid getting a nasty parking ticket.
Can I park at a metered spot in San Francisco if the parking meter is broken?
A) No, if you do this, you will be ticketed.
B) Of course you can, it's not your fault that it's broken. You can park there all day long for free.
C) Yes, but you still have to put the proper amount of coins in.
D) Yes, but you have to leave a note for the parking officer.
E) None of the above.
F) All of some of the above and some of all of the above...some of the time.
The answer is F) Some of the above, some of the time
The law states that you may park at a broken meter, but only for the posted time limit on that meter.
Answer A) is a little bit true, as sometimes the parking police will give you a ticket, thinking that you are parked at an expired meter. If this happens, send in a letter along with the number of the meter, and your citation number and your ticket will be waived. I've done this.
Answer B) might be true if you are lucky, or the parking officer is not on top of their game. However, most parking officers will make a notation of your car and the broken meter, and when they come back around, if you are still parked there and the time limit is up, you will be ticketed. And remember, they don't just chalk your tires anymore, they make a notation in a computer, or on paper, so the "if there is no chalk on my tire I am safe" theory is not always true like in the old days.
Answer C) is not true, but a lot of people do it knowingly and unknowingly. Some people will dump in their 12 quarters only to find out that the meter is out of order. Other people put in the amount anyway, because they don't know the law and it makes them feel safer. Some people put a quarter in, it doesn't register, so they put another quarter in, just to be sure. These are the same people who drink some expired milk, and then ask you to taste it to make sure that it tastes bad.
Answer D) is not true, but is a good idea. If you cover the meter with a paper bag, or put a note on it, or your windshield, you will most definitely avoid the hassle of situation A) above.
And remember to watch out for some other parking enforcement sign that trumps the metered spot being legal whether the meter works or not, such as a commuter lane from 3PM to 7PM, a loading zone, or street sweeping.
Write us with comments or questions, and we'll get David to answer them!