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Police hassle or cowardly way to raise revenue?

Original post made by Walter Sedriks, Downtown North, on Mar 26, 2008

It is small wonder that there has been little support for providing the police in Palo Alto with a fancy new building: Their behaviour often seems to be aimed a harassing the residents in ways big and small. A prime example of the former is the absolutely atrocious way the affair with The Children’s Theatre has been handled. Minor instances include the way residents in the Downtown North area are treated, e.g., in regard to parking.

A personal example follows, but I understand this is a very common occurrence: On a Monday night I dutifully moved my car into my driveway to clear the pavement for street sweeping that was due the next morning (9am –10am). On the Tuesday morning, some time after the cleaning truck had gone by and the street had been swept, I moved my car from the driveway to let out another vehicle. However, because the street had been cleaned I did not move the car back into my driveway. My car was subsequently cited at 9.45am, some half-an-hour after the cleaning had very obviously taken place.

Now the purpose, and the only purpose, of the subject "No Parking for Street Sweeping" regulation is to enable effective sweeping of my neighborhood street. Hence, there was no practical reason for issuing the citation, except either to hassle me, or perhaps as an underhand and cowardly underhand means for the City to raise revenue.

Either way it again reflects very poorly on the city and its police force.

Comments (25)

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Posted by Armando Rea
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 26, 2008 at 10:03 am

The sign states "No parking" from 9-10 AM, I assume. You parked at 9:45 AM. You broke the law and were given a ticket. Whether the street was cleaned once is irrelevant. Maybe you need to investigate if others got tickets that way--otherwise it might be a conspiracy against you, Walter.
I think that Walter is still upset with the city because they took down all the traffic calming measures and barriers that prevents ALL PA residents from using public streets in Downtown North and prevented Walter's neighborhood from becoming a private enclave.

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Posted by South PA Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Waiter: if you don't want your street to be ticketed on street sweeping day, how about they remove the signs and place them on streets in South Palo Alto where they would be most welcome. Meanwhile, streets in Downtown North which are presently favored with tickets to remove cars for street sweeping can be left dirty.

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Posted by double the fine!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 26, 2008 at 4:23 pm

The sign is a permanent sigh, you were warned and broke the law, you got fined. Hopefully it goes up for repeat offenders.

Maybe I should just turn right at 8:00 am from Middlefield into your little enclave because "I'm going to Johnson park and the sign is only there to prevent thru traffic not people with something to do in the private Downtown North".

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 26, 2008 at 7:10 pm

So you're against a public safety building cause you got a ticket, where you admit that you were in violation of a posted sign that you knew about?

Nobody likes tickets, but I bet that you are bigger than this Walter.

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Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Why hasn't the City implemented this street sweeping parking restriction all over town? The city where I grew up had a meter maid following immediately behind the sweeper. We would pull in right behind her and we wouldn't be ticketed. She was only concerned about the vehicles blocking the sweeper.

I guess Palo Alto police don't coordinate very well with the street sweeping department. Based on the Children's Theatre fiasco, it doesn't look like they coordinate with other departments either.

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Posted by Tow
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 27, 2008 at 4:26 am

Next time they should tow your car away.

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Posted by South PA Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2008 at 6:16 am

Puzzled: Extending street sweeping parking restriction to the rest of Palo Alto has been discussed. The problem is that the City would have to hire more Community Service Officers to enforce the parking restrictions.

Since the Police budget has been cut in previous years and is going to be cut again this year, the number of Community Service Officers has been cut. To enforce the parking ban in other neighborhoods would mean increasing the police budget to hire more people. Don't forget we have a Community Service Officer who spends a lot of time enforcing the leaf blower ban, because that's what people want!!

It is obvious to me that Downtown North doesn't appreciate having parking restrictions so their streets can be properly cleaned. Lets remove those signs and give them to a neighborhood which would appreciate a street sweeping parking ban!!!

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Posted by Jenny
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2008 at 9:58 am

Walter, you claim the street sweeper had already passed by your house when you pulled your car out and parked it on the street. How did you know the street sweeper would not come back and do a second run in front of your house?

The street sweeper very often passes by twice in front of my house.

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Posted by Paly77
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2008 at 10:16 am

I have always wonder what would happen if there were no more cars?
Just think, no instant city revenue traffic tickets! Oh Noooooooo!
Oh that's right, PA loves to bash the bicyclist too!
I remember the street sweepers from the 70's, and I always thought they were a waste of time, and tax dollars!
Walter, I fear you will be barking up a very tall tree.
The court will probably increase your fine based on the fact the time is clearly posted (like driving in a car pool lane on a holiday)!

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Posted by cough up
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 27, 2008 at 11:59 am

Let's see, according to the specified Municipal Code:
Web Link

(b)When the city manager, as authorized under this chapter, has caused signs or curb markings to be placed, no person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle adjacent to any such legible sign or curb marking in violation of any of the provisions of this title except as specifically authorized by law.

It is pretty clear that you broke the law, Walter.

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Posted by Armando Rea
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Walter is a neighborhood malcontent. I have seen him in action at neighborhood meetings and have read his missives to the papers, constantly whining when he does not get his way.
Play by the rules, Walter and you will not get cited.

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Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 27, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Everyone is giving Walter grief for "breaking the law," but I agree that there was no logical reason to give him a citation. Sure, sure, "the sign says...", but his car didn't obstruct the street cleaner, which is the whole point of the sign in the first place. Seems a little underhanded to me, and far from the best use of police tiem and resources. I mean really, a woman gets mugged in broad daylight, yet the cops are spending time ticketing cars AFTER the street sweeper has already gone by?? No wonder I don't feel safe in this city. All of the cops are out giving unnecesary parking tickets instead of hunting down criminals, policing the streets or busting drunk drivers. I'm with Walter on this - although I do think the police are due a new building. I'd prefer the PAPD spend its time more effectively. Knowing a car was ticketed even though it didn't block the street cleaner certainly doesn't me feel like the cops are out hunting down serious criminals.

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Posted by it's the law
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 27, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Danny, it's people like you who run red lights because "there was no cross traffic".

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Posted by Wrong again
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Danny, A Sworn Police Officer didn't give Walter a ticket, a parking enforcement person did. Police Officers are far too busy solving crimes to give parking tickets.

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Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 27, 2008 at 2:08 pm

it's the law: Boy are you wrong. I follow the law to a T, and generally don't drive anyway as I care about the environment. It isn't intelligent or neighborly to make such rude and unnecesary accusations. But Wrong again raises a good point. It probably was (not definitely, as police officers can also issue parking citations) a parking enforcement officer and not a police officer that issued the ticket, so my argument on that point doesn't hold water. I still think it's a little sleazy to ticket someone as in the circumstance Walter described, but it isn't fair for me to blame the police.

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Posted by it's the law
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 27, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Danny, this isn't being sleazy, it's being practical.

Either signs are enforced or they aren't. Otherwise the argument of "oh, I thought the street had already been cleaned" starts coming into play. They need to enforce the entire period to ensure that the roads are always empty when they need to be.

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Posted by No Sympathy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2008 at 7:43 pm

You can always use your tax savings to pay the legitimate fine.

Tax Payment History for APN: 120-14-082 Fiscal Year APN Suffix Installment Tax Amount Fees/Costs Penalty Total Paid Payment Posted
2007-2008 00 First $365.15 $0.00 $0.00 $365.15 12/08/2007
00 Second $365.15 $0.00 $0.00 $365.15 12/08/2007
2006-2007 00 First $366.79 $0.00 $0.00 $366.79 11/27/2006
00 Second $366.79 $0.00 $0.00 $366.79 11/27/2006
2005-2006 00 First $355.56 $0.00 $0.00 $355.56 11/15/2005
00 Second $355.56 $0.00 $0.00 $355.56 11/15/2005
2004-2005 00 First $493.32 $0.00 $0.00 $493.32 11/10/2004
00 Second $493.32 $0.00 $0.00 $493.32 02/08/2005
2003-2004 00 First $486.13 $0.00 $0.00 $486.13 10/06/2003
00 Second $486.13 $0.00 $0.00 $486.13 01/15/2004
2002-2003 00 First $479.10 $0.00 $0.00 $479.10 09/27/2002
00 Second $479.10 $0.00 $0.00 $479.10 01/17/2003
2001-2002 00 First $470.33 $0.00 $0.00 $470.33 10/17/2001
00 Second $470.33 $0.00 $0.00 $470.33 03/18/2002

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Posted by omfg
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 27, 2008 at 7:56 pm

$730 a year! We can see how small your support is for this city. How much did you want the city to pay for your traffic calming in dtn?

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Posted by Prop 13 killed CA schools
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2008 at 11:57 pm

Wonder if Walter also opts out of the school parcel tax too? Will we ever fix the problems created by Prop 13 and its brethren?

Walter seems to be just plain paranoid. How was the parking enforcement officer supposed to KNOW that he wasn't parked there when the sweeper went by? The officers can't consistently stay in front of the sweepers. They have to just ticket people based on the time rules printed on the sign.

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Posted by Walter Sedriks
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Since most of the comments have been ad hominem attacks on me rather than any reasoned discussion of the issue, I would like to add the following:

I actually opposed Prop 13, and therefore feel I cannot be held responsible for it’s impact on property taxes.

Re my contributions to taxes, the city welfare etc., years back following Prop 13, when my wife and I were still wage earners, there was a substantial tax refund related to the public schools. It was suggested that people might want to pass the refund back to the school district, and we in fact did that. As it turned out a survey showed that very few others did the same (I think it was less than 5%).

Amongst other things, I was also one of only three individuals who coughed up for hiring a lawyer to advise on how to proceed in try to stop the city from developing intensive housing on the current Johnson Park site. That eventually led to dedication and development of our beautiful little park.

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Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm

It's the law: I'm still offended by your earlier comment, so any argument you raise at this point feels artificial. I stopped thinkig what you had to say was worthwhile the minute I found it offensive. I'm sure you have a good point and fair reasoning, but resorting to personal attacks and insinuations aoutmatically makes your voice feel shallow.

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Posted by Walter
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 28, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Re the accusations of my being paranoid and a malcontent, I would like to quote from Smokey Wallace’s letter in this Thursday’s Daily News:

“I really enjoyed Walter Sedriks' letter about Downtown North's clean streets. In fact, I actually wrote a letter on the same topic about a year ago. Walter's observation is spot on. Why in the world would someone issue a citation for parking after the street has been swept?

In fact, on numerous occasions, I have observed the parking police park at my corner and wait for unsuspecting parkers to arrive so they can issue citations 5 to10 minutes before the no-parking time elapses. The only conclusion is that it is not about clean streets, but an obvious scam to generate more money for the city coffers. Walter's logic is impeccable.”

I might add that Smokey is an erstwhile candidate for City Council, and unlike myself, was strongly opposed to traffic calming barriers in the Downtown North neighborhood.

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Posted by South PA Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2008 at 8:00 am

Walter and Smokey Wallace: I'm not going to let you have the last word. You need to get out there and visit other neighborhoods on street sweeping day with vehicles parked along their streets. We'd all love to have your signs banning parking for street sweeping in the hopes of getting our streets properly cleaned.

Again, this is another perk they offer the Downtown North residents which you obviously don't appreciate. It costs money to enforce the street sweeping parking ban; the City does not have either the money or personnel to extend the program into other neighborhoods. You are so lucky!!!

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Posted by Juliet
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Seems to me that older neighborhoods that adjoin commercial areas need certain consideration. For example, the neighborhood just north of California Avenue business district (Evergreen Park?) has road blockages all over the place. Just try to drive from one street to another. It's frustrating.
But it keeps shoppers from parking there all day or driving through to get to California Ave. The streets are quiet and there isn't much extra parking.
I can tell when the street sweepers have passed on my street, I move my car out on to the street just as Walter did. A little common sense by the enforcers is required. Just a little, not too much.

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Posted by Ed
a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2008 at 11:50 am

Walter, while you are complaining about the street sweeper signs, can you also fight to take down the no turn signs during rush hour in to Downtown North?? It really is inconvenient for me....

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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