Jan 21, 2011

Curb Your Wheels

A little while back, the San Francisco MTA issued me a parking ticket because my wheels were "insufficiently" turned to the curb.  In actuality, my wheels were touching the curb, which meets the requirement that the curb act as a "check" to a potential runaway vehicle on any street with a slope exceeding three degrees.

I asked an MTA enforcement agent the next day (I'm pretty sure it was the guy who issued the ticket) whether it could be appealed and he basically replied, "You won't win, because you can't prove the enforcement agent made a mistake."  He further explained that the MTA has a "performance requirement" which compels agents to issue tickets for sidewalk parking and wheel infractions so that lazy enforcement agents don't simply follow the street-cleaners and issue tickets for street-cleaning violations.

As I thanked him for his time, I couldn't help but notice the front wheel on his unattended vehicle.


  1. Bob -- Isn't the burden of proof the other way around? My guess is a judge throws this out immediately. I'm hoping you'll follow through. Any notion of whether the MTA is required to report these stats including how many of each type of citation it issues each year? My guess is that you would see a pronounced pattern of increased harassment in response to budget concerns.

  2. You'd like to think the burden of proof runs the other way, but that's not the way the parking citation system is rigged in SF.

    On another occasion, I parked at the Embarcadero where they have assigned spaces and credit-card enabled meters. On this occasion, the meter could not validate any one of my three credit cards so I assume the communications link was down. I left a note to that effect on my dashboard, went to my meeting and came out two hours later to a parking ticket.

    I protested by mail, and after a few months received a notice from the MTA that they "had no record of the meter's being repaired" so they refused my appeal. Of course, if it was the communications link rather than the meter, it stands to reason that they wouldn't have any record of a meter repair.

    Here's where it gets even more interesting. If I want to pursue my appeal, I have to pay the fine first, then show up in person on a first-come, first-served basis to make my case, which they've already rejected.

    So basically, when it comes to SF parking citations, you're guilty until proven innocent and you pay the fine before the trial.