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A small gripe

Original post made by a mom, Green Acres, on Nov 21, 2008

Today I discovered, via the parking ticket on my car window, that I am not allowed to park near my neighborhood school between 9am and 10am on school days. Mea Culpa, the sign was visible and I just didn't realize it was there since I don't normally park here. I normally walk, but had to get my son to a special assembly for his class this morning and was running late. I'm sure the signs are there so the neighbors don't have to deal with a lot of unfamiliar cars on the street during the day because of the proximity to school. Again, my mistake, I take responsibility for it and have already paid the ticket.

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Comments (3)

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 21, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Wrong place at the wrong time. When there are Jordan events, people park in the no parking zone bike lanes and no one get ticketed.

Next time, try arguing the ticket. I've argued tickets before and won, but that was when we lived out-of-state. Don't know if it is possible here. PAPD is used to arguing residents so maybe they don't listen to it...

Like this comment
Posted by Grandma
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2008 at 3:37 pm

The PAPD have to pay for their new Public Safety Building somehow, and you just got caught. So, life is unfair, isn't that what we teach our children. Take your lumps, pay the fine, and move on with your life.

Like this comment
Posted by a mom
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 21, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Thanks for the comments. The parking ticket itself (for which I was at fault) isn't what bothers me so much as this environment of fines in this city. The city has all these fines to encourage or discourage certain behavior, which is perfectly fine, but then the collecting of the fines becomes something else because it generates a revenue stream. I think using a lot of fines for revenue sours the relationship between city hall and the public and makes the city a less nice place to live for citizens.

For example, in this situation, a warning would have served exactly the same purpose, because it would have made me more aware of the signs and the cost of making the same mistake again. I would not have made the same mistake again. I brought the situation up to other parents this afternoon; everyone else in the group had already been fined for making exactly the same mistake. No one did it deliberately, so in their case as well, a warning the first time and a fine the second would have served exactly the same purpose. That is, if the purpose of the fine structure is to change behavior rather than to generate a revenue stream.

Thanks for the suggestion to fight the fine, but I know very well that it would be unsuccessful here, and as I said, in this case, I was at fault. I know it would be unsuccessful regardless because the only other parking ticket I've had I feel was NOT my fault. It was in a downtown lot that wasn't well marked. I ended up fighting that one and lost. However, I sent a copy of my complaint to the transportation department, which agreed with me that the signs were inadequate and said they were correcting the situation based on their investigation. So for the price of a parking ticket, I was able to show my first grader how you can change things for everyone's benefit just by caring and being involved. It was a clean and cheap civics lesson, and worth the fine. However, it still made me feel terrible about Palo Alto's tendency to be so heavy-handed with fines.

Yes, life is unfair. But it's always good to take the effort where one can to make things more fair when it's in one's power. This may mean fighting city hall, but it shouldn't be WWIII, so I think it's worth some effort. Especially since the city claims to want more civic engagement from residents, and the city's job is really to be fair and make the town a good place to live.

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