Setting record straight on parking tickets


MONTCLARION NEWSPAPER – April 16, 2009

LIKE TAX collectors, attorneys and even journalists these days, parking enforcement officers aren’t really feeling the love. Yet you have to give them their props. Somehow, they manage to be there at the exact moment your meter expires. That’s impressive, considering there are only 53 of them circling the streets of Oakland.

Circling like sharks? That’s probably not a fair statement, but it’s how they’re perceived by some. So I thought I’d go straight to the source, the new head of parking enforcement, Noel Pinto, to find out how tickets are issued and processed in Oakland.First let’s address the “myth” about quotas. Pinto says there’s no set number of tickets that a parking enforcement officer must write. But records are kept on each beat and as officers rotate through regions, the number of tickets they issue is compared to the average for that region. If an officer consistently falls short of his or her expectations, they face discipline.

  • Broken single meters. Pinto says you can legally park at a broken single meter for the time limit on the meter. You should not get a ticket.
  • Broken multi-space meters. If the permit dispenser near your car is broken and you get a ticket while you’re trying to find a dispenser that works — appeal it. A supervisor can easily check to verify your claim and if valid, can dismiss the ticket.
  • Challenging a ticket as it’s being issued.  Once an officer enters your license plate, make and model – the ticket can’t be voided. But if you feel it’s unfair, they should give you their supervisor’s card and direct office number. Pinto says the supervisor will personally research your ticket and make a decision on its validity.
  • Challenging a ticket you find on your car. This may be the most maddening part of the whole process. You submit a written challenge (no payment is necessary) and then wait — patiently. The frustrating part is you may continue to get notices that your fine has gone up, with no acknowledgement of your appeal. That’s what Pinto is trying to fix, and he’s making no excuses for his department’s slow response.”Our internal process has fallen apart,” he admits. “There’s no justification for that.”

    When the affable Pinto took over the post Feb. 17, he says morale was low and there was a six-month backlog of work. He’s working on that, by improving the lines of communication with his staff. A self-proclaimed people-person, Pinto says his one-on-one meetings are already helping the department to function more efficiently. But they’re not up to speed yet.

    “We have to make this work with what we have,” says Pinto. “And we will.”

    About Town: On the crime front, someone has apparently stolen several of the rusted green newspaper dispensers in the Village. Reader Jeff Diamond (Farmstead Cheeses and Wines) thinks they were taken for their scrap metal value. Whatever the reason, I don’t see anyone lining up to complain.

    Help Wanted: One of Oakland’s most colorful treasures is getting an Earth Day make-over Saturday. It’s the historic Rose Garden on Jean Street, built as a WPA project back in 1932. While still a beauty, the park could use a little love and the roses could use some pruning. If you’d like to join the neighbors, scouts and church volunteers who have already signed up, bring your gloves and garden tools to 700 Jean St. between 9 a.m. and noon. Call Maggie Kostoff for more information at 444-4992.

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    One thought on “Setting record straight on parking tickets

    1. Ginny,

      Regarding parking tickets, please investigate Oakland’s parking enforcement department’s lack of processing tickets into the system so you can pay them, until after the date of when a fine for “non-payment” can be tacked on. I am hearing from friends that they tried to pay their tickets and couldn’t because “it wasn’t in the system,” and then received a notice that they were issued a fine for non-payment (so the ticket is now $250).

      Please investigate how many of those fines have been issued. This will be interesting.

      Thanks.

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