This Week Was Next Week Last Week


Dear Parking Guru,
A few days ago, I drove to North Beach, found a spot super quickly (thanks to your advice) and I had an awesome lunch with some old friends. On my way back to my car, I was humming corny holiday songs to myself, and was really feeling joyous, when the vinyl record playing in my mind suddenly came screeching to a halt. Up the block I saw a DPT officer double-parked near where I had parked. I ran up the street as she was driving away and found a big fat ticket on my windshield. I used the pay by phone option you wrote about last week, and wondered if all that technology got me jacked up somehow. But it wasn’t for an expired meter, it was for parking in temporary no parking zone.
In the photo, it clearly shows that the no parking construction sign was for the day before, the 18th. I checked the date on my phone, I asked two passers-by what day it was, and got confirmation that this day was indeed the 19th.  How could this happen? What can I do about it?
Thank you in advance,
Scratched Vinyl
Dear Vinyl,
Nothing puts sand in a holiday sandwich like a $61 parking ticket. But, let’s see if we can’t get you back into that toe tapping, finger snapping, whistling state of mind. I visited the scene of the crime today and guess what? The sign was still up. You did indeed follow my advice, because these spots are indeed golden. Temporary “No Parking” signs for construction, or in this case a permit to reserve a spot for a moving truck, are supposed to be put up 3 days in advance in order to fairly warn people, and they are to be taken down after the job is done, or when the restricted time expires. However, they are usually left up for at least a few days, and often several weeks after the enforceable time expires. Most people assume that they are not legal spots and just blow past them, but I head straight for them and after reading them, am rewarded 90% of the time.
I have no reasonable explanation as to why the ticket was issued.  Sometimes it’s not what people think the ticket was for and there is something they didn’t see, or know (like the sloped part of a curb being part of a driveway). Or there is a restrictive sign 90 feet down the street (remember that all signs are enforceable for 100 feet) But, I checked it out thoroughly, and where you parked is indeed a legal spot, with an expired no parking sign in front of it.
Maybe the parking officer is suffering from holiday season temporal distortion and simply forgot what day it was. It can get confusing. Telling yourself that yesterday, today was tomorrow, if left untreated, can quickly turn into reminding yourself that last week, this week was next week. Another possible explanation is that it’s cold out, it’s the holidays, she’s been driving her three-wheeler around in circles all year, nobody is ever happy to see her, and she doesn’t get bottles of booze for a holiday present like mail carriers and parking valets do. It is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs one could have.
I think she simply made a mistake. In some jobs, if a mistake is made just one percent of the time, that is an acceptable number and keeps people with customer service skills employed. In the world of SF parking enforcement, where 1.5 million tickets are issued per year, if enforcement officers are correct 99% of the time, that means that 15,000 erroneous tickets are issued per year…and this is one of them.
When you are issued a bogus ticket, like you clearly were, fixing it will take all of 3 minutes. Look at the back of the ticket, or the reminder that will arrive by mail, and find the address to contest a ticket. Write a short and sweet letter contesting its validity, and include the citation number, along with a copy of the pic that you took, and I guarantee that you will receive an apology letter (or the closest that a government agency can come to one), and your ticket will be dismissed. So, I hope the holiday tunes are back in your brain, and you are back on your merry way.
To stuff your parking challenged loved ones’ stockings with the gift of insider parking tips, tricks and secrets, click here. If you’re short on holiday cash, you can give the gift of VoicePark, the world’s first voice-guided app, for free, by clicking here.

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