Tuesday, February 7th, 2012...08:21

City of Sacramento Parking Ticket Nonsense

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When was the last time you put a coin into a parking meter and had to turn a knob in order to complete the transaction? I can’t remember when I last watched the red or yellow metal plates rise and fall, checked to see if the arrow indicated I had been credited the appropriate amount of time.
parking meterGrowing up, I got a kick out of turning the knobs as I walked by, so tactile, usually accompanied by a grinding noise and then a clang as the arrow and plates sprung back into place. Nowadays when paying for street parking, more often than not I have to walk to a centrally located kiosk, get a printed stick and place it in a particular spot inside my car, but the notion of a parking meter still conjures up images of the mechanical one from my childhood. Note: The parking meters I remember apparently are made by a company named Duncan e.g. Duncan Parking Meters

My dad and grandmother flew in from the East Coast this past Thanksgiving and we all went up to Sacramento to spend it with my wife’s family. After Thanksgiving dinner we drove to a hotel and I found parking across the street from the hotel. There was a sign (shown below as viewed from the driver’s seat the next morning) stating it was 1 hour parking from 8a-6p. I knew we’d be leaving before 9a the next morning, nothing indicated there was a fee and there was no parking meter by the car. It was late and dark so we hustled into the hotel to check-in.


The next morning we were at the car by 8:45a and to my surprise there was a parking ticket on the windshield. I looked around and saw a pay for parking kiosk about 75ft behind the car which I had missed the previous night as I had not looked in that direction. I vowed to contest it when I got home and wrote this:

December 4, 2011

City of Sacramento, Revenue Services
P.O. Box 2551
Sacramento CA 95812-2551

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to contest this parking citation:

Citation #: #########
Issue Date: 25-Nov-11
Location: 1215 J St
Violation Code: 10.20.090 Meter Expired
Vehicle License #: #######

I parked at the above location around 10pm on 24-Nov-11 and saw the sign that said 1hr parking 8am-6pm. The next morning at 8:45am I went to move my car and saw I had been issued a parking ticket. There was no meter on the sidewalk next to the spot and no sign indicating the spot was metered. Here is a photo I took that morning from my car of the parking sign as viewed from the driver’s seat. I appreciate your time and understanding.


James Pine

Because this was a legal challenge, I sent the letter via certified mail and requested a return receipt. My total postage cost was $5.74 or 13% of the actual fine! After nearly 3 months, I received the judgement and of course they denied my request to waive the fee, citing rule #2 of the 13 Ways to Park Legally in Sacramento. Looking 100ft in either direction due to these parking pay stations seems like a step backward from the time when a meter right next to your car contained all the information necessary. To be fair, accepting credit cards and paper money in addition to coins is a step forward…though the number of times a parking machine has failed to accept my credit card or paper money is non-zero. Anyway, the real problem was that I did look for a parking sign, saw one above my car as indicated in the photo and did not consider that I might have to hunt down another parking sign for corroboration.

I would have continued contesting the ticket except for the fact that we donated our car to a charity a few weeks ago and didn’t want to cause them any trouble during their attempt to sell it. Perhaps the City of Sacramento will use the revenue from my citation to put up the proper signage…

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