Parking Tips: If The City Starts Ticketing Its Employees, Won't It Be Paying Itself?


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.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how SFMTA is getting their act together and doing their part to tighten the budget gap by eliminating 1000 free parking spaces for SFMTA employees. They did that, and we applauded them.

Another of the policy changes that SFMTA said they were going to implement was to make City government cars subject to time limits at meters. I laughed publicly at this one because I didn’t think that it would ever be enforced. I wrote that the first person to email me a picture of a City vehicle with a parking ticket on the windshield for parking over the time limit would get a free copy of Finding the Sweet Spot and a $25 smart parking card.

Well…ladies and gentleman…we have a winner.  Dan, aka “Man the Dan” [sic] sent me these photos of a San Francisco government vehicle with a parking ticket on its windshield.  I was chuckling at the suggestion of this policy change, but after some reflection, I am now laughing even harder.

A San Francisco vehicle given a ticket by the DPT brings up a few questions for me:

Who pays the ticket?  I’m assuming it’s the City agency whose vehicle it is that received the ticket. If that’s the case, then isn’t it the City fining the City and then paying the City the penalty? To me, that seems no different than me writing a check to myself. There is no net change.  It comes out to zero.  Or does it?  Let’s crunch the numbers:

If there are 500,000 cars in SF on any given day and…

The non-emergency vehicle fleet of SF is 6,881 vehicles. (Let’s round it off to 5,000)…

Then, 1 percent of all the vehicles in the City are owned by the City…

There are about 2,000,000 parking tickets issued in SF per year…

This new policy of ticketing City owned vehicles means that in one year, on average, SF will issue 20,000 parking tickets to itself.

The average DPT officer writes approximately 25 parking tickets per day.

20,000 tickets divided by 25 tickets per day equals 800 days or 6,400 work hours of San Francisco government employee time taken to write tickets to itself.  This isn’t like robbing Peter to pay Paul, but rather Peter robbing Peter to pay Peter.

My new challenge is a free copy of Finding the Sweet Spot to the first person to email me a photo of a San Francisco City vehicle that is booted or towed to AutoReturn. I wouldn’t really imagine that the City would ticket itself to such an extent, however, the longer I live in the Bay Area, the more I’ve come to find that life really is funnier than fiction.

For more SF facts and figures that will make your head spin click here.

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