Friday, February 26, 2010

Oakland’s Parking Ticket Blame Game

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 10:37 AM

So who was responsible for exempting two wealthy Oakland neighborhoods from last year’s parking ticket blitz? It depends on whom you ask. But at least the city has halted its double-standard parking practices, according to the Chron. In fact, City Administrator Dan Lindheim told the paper that residents of low and middle-income neighborhoods that were blanketed with tickets between July 24 and November 12 last year might be eligible for refunds.

Lindheim said that since November, the city has stopped issuing tickets for parking partially on the sidewalk or in the wrong direction on all streets that are narrower than 30 feet. However, from July 24 to November 12, Lindheim acknowledged that the city had ticketed residents on narrow streets for both infractions — except in the upscale neighborhoods of Montclair and Broadway Terrace.

In an e-mail to the Express last night, Lindheim said the unequal treatment was a result of requests by city council members last summer. Lindheim said three councilmembers had asked that the city issue notices to residents on narrow streets that it planned to begin ticketing for parking on the sidewalk and in the wrong direction. Both practices have been illegal for years, but the city has never enforced them because it can be unsafe to turn around on narrow streets, and emergency vehicles can’t get through unless residents park their cars partially on the sidewalk.

Lindheim didn’t say which councilmembers made the request for notices rather than tickets, but according to today’s Chron and Trib, they apparently were Pat Kernighan, Jean Quan, and Jane Brunner. Quan represents Montclair and Brunner represents Broadway Terrace.

Lindheim also told the Express that the city decided to go ahead and issue tickets for parking the wrong way and on sidewalks in East Oakland as a result of a request by Councilmembers Larry Reid and Desley Brooks, who represent that area of the city. The Chron reported today that at a June 30 council discussion both Brooks and Reid said they wanted enforcement because unlawful parking was a problem in their districts, while Brunner and Kernighan argued that the city shouldn’t begin enforcing laws that it had long ignored without telling residents about it.

Kernighan told the Trib yesterday that she did not tell staff to treat different areas of the city differently. But she acknowledged that she said last summer that residents should be warned of the new parking enforcement policy before they got tickets. As for Brooks and Reid, the Chron said they could not be reached for comment yesterday. But Brooks told the Trib that there should be “a thorough investigation” into what happened and decried the practice of “unequal enforcement.”

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