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Is this an incentive to use CalTrain?
Original post made
by Perturbed Parker, Professorville,
on Mar 11, 2011
As an infrequent commuter, I was running to catch the 8:36 CalTrain yesterday. To my chagrin, the last parking spot in the train's lot was taken by the car in front of me. That set off a chain of events....with only 8 minutes to spare, I took a parking spot on Alma, fully intending that I would get a ticket since it was a 2 hour spot only. I had a meeting in SF so my choices were to take the spot or miss the train. When I got back to the car at 2pm fully expecting one ticket....I found two. Huh? They write a ticket for every two hour increment that you are parked over time. You must be kidding me! What evil revenue seeking bureaucrat came up with that scheme? How about fining jaywalkers for every step they take between curbs. So, parking for a full 8 hour day would come to over $120 in fines. Does anyone think that might be a little draconian? That's what you get for riding CalTrain I guess.
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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 12, 2011 at 8:43 am
I had to carry some heavy things in my car to my neighborhood school, so I had to park nearby at the back, just a few streets over from where I live. I can't remember what it was for anymore, but I was only in the school an hour or two for PTA meeting? helping in the classroom? not all day. They don't really have much of a parking lot and it was full. I came outside to a $40 or $45 ticket.
Apparently the city does that to keep the street clear for the people who live there, or people would park there all day, which I understand. It was a rude shock for me, especially since I live right in the neighborhood and was helping out at school, but I can understand the other side, too. Especially since the kids from the high school could easily start using that street as a parking lot if it weren't for the policy.
I'm the first person to criticize Palo Alto's heavy-handed fining, but in this case, there was a clear reason and it was effective. They can't keep warning everyone not to park there, and I learned my lesson, even though I was there for a good purpose.
In the case of the train, it's probably a more gentle policy to give out two fines rather than one big one. People are discouraged from parking in the neighborhood all day, and the ones who just don't realize there is a fine to park there in the first place don't get caught with the same fine as someone who parks there all day (which has to be big enough to discourage that, if that's the purpose).
That said, if you really disagree with the policy, you can do something to help everyone else.
I parked in a lot near the Apple Store on Lytton awhile back. It was morning, the lot was empty. There was a big green sign indicating city parking directing me into the lot, and lots of reserved signs on the wall of the building at the end of the lot (so of course I didn't park there). I chose a nice spot under a tree and went about my business.
Driving home, I saw a piece of paper on my windshield and was astonished to find a ticket. I called the number, bewildered. The person at the parking office asked me what lot it was, and indicated with recognition that even he had gotten a ticket there. I went back to the lot and saw that the row I had parked in was indeed reserved, but I had to hunt for the signs -- along the whole row, there was only one sign, under the tree and turned away from the spaces, and one each way at the ends, again turned 90-degrees from the parking spots.
So I took photos of the good signage on the opposite wall, the inadequate signage along that row, the green city parking sign directing traffic into the lot, etc. And I went to Los Altos and took photos of lots of different parking situations, showing the standard is to have the rules about parking actually face the parking spots. I appealed the ticket.
And, I took my nicely done appeal and sent it to the city traffic department. I got a call back immediately. The person went out to the lot, looked around, and told me the signage was inadequate and she had already ordered new signs. They were very friendly and helpful.
Today, when I park in that lot, I (and everyone else) can clearly see where not to park and how not to get the same ticket I and countless others got before. The people who pay for and use that lot for the reserved spots are happier, downtown shoppers are happier, and for the price of a parking ticket (yes, I still lost the appeal), I showed my kid that you can change some things simply by taking the time when no one else has. In the grand scheme of things, I can't complain.
(But don't get me started on the city library fine policies!.... and yes, I did my part there, too. I didn't get very far, but I believe my involvement -- this goes back many years now -- has everything to do with why the libraries stopped sending out their overdue emails AFTER you have incurred the fine! but instead a few days before.)