Dear Parking Guru:
Today I came home early today to meet the repairman. It is street cleaning on the side of the block in front of my house with posted no parking signs between 12 pm and 3 pm. As I pulled up to my house at 1 pm I saw the street sweeper driving off of my dead end street after doing his job so I figured that I could park in front of my house. At 1:40 I received a $62 ticket. This does not seem fair. I know that I have seen people pull into parking spaces just after they see that the street sweeper has left and I assumed all was okay and ticket-free. Do I have any basis on which to fight this?
In the not-so-distant old days, parking behind the path of the clean machine was always a safe maneuver. The street sweeper would come around and there would be several three-wheelers following it, furiously writing tickets. Unfortunately with MUNI running so far in the red, SFMTA needs every legal nickel it can get its hands on. And they just got 1240 nickels from you. At first glance, I think it seems unethical to give a vehicle a ticket once the street sweeper has already come by. The only plausible way in which this could make any sense is if the parking police came around well after the street sweeper had come by and the officer had no idea of knowing which cars were there before the street sweeper had come by, and which ones had parked after. So, to be fair, everyone was ticketed.
The official SFMTA position is that a vehicle is always subject to being ticketed if it is parked during any posted restricted times, whether the street sweeper has come by or not. This policy has larger ramifications though. As a result of not being able to use a parking space for that 3 hour block of time, even though the street has been cleaned, a few thousand parking spots are not available for three hours and a few thousand more cars are on the road circling looking for parking than need to be, and they are adding to congestion and pollution unnecessarily.
I see a solution to this though. SFMTA has been talking off and on about putting cameras on the street sweepers and taking pics of the license plate of each car blocking its hygienic path. It is a little Big Brotherish, and my instant reflexive reaction is to reject the idea, but it actually could make sense and could be looked upon as "pro-driver" and "pro-City" if SFMTA plays its cards right. There will no longer need to be several DPT officers being paid who are trailing behind each street sweeper (saving the city money), the City can still make money from citations for those who block the path, and as soon the street sweeper has gone by, it will be safe to park there.
It is confusing because some old school parking officers will tell you that it is okay to do, and newbies will give you a ticket. If I had any trick or inside knowledge to help you get this ticket dismissed, I'd tell you. The only defense you have is to contest it by mail, receive a rejection letter, and request a hearing. Then, at the hearing, hope that logic will prevail when you state your case that the law is intended to keep the streets clean and they were already cleaned.
Sorry you got a ticket. And I am also disappointed in what seems to be a continual vanishing sense of fairness, and logic. If anybody from SFMTA responds to this idea, I will let you all know.
It could be worse though. In San Francisco, at least your street gets clean. In Oakland, people get tickets and the street sweeper never even comes by to clean the streets.
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Dear Parking Guru: