How Do They Know?


How Do They Know?

Here’s the deal – San Francisco has passed a new rule that if a parking meter is broken, you can park there “free” for an hour. After the hour, a citation will be issued. My question is: “How does the enforcement staff know that the person has been parked there for an hour?”


I guess they are going to have to:

  1. Know that the meter is broken – if they know that, why hasn’t someone been dispatched to fix it. All meters are plug and play – that is, you simply remove the existing innards, and replace it. Easy and quick. And, why can’t the enforcement staff carry a spare meter or two and replace the broken one on the spot? Oh yeah, there is probably a union problem here.
  2. Mark the car when they first see it – and then come back an hour later and discover if it is still there. So now we have invested an officers time twice to see if people are overstaying the broken meter…Why couldn’t they have “called it in” and had someone fix the damn thing.
  3. The result is a “he said, she said” citation. I was there only 45 minutes – No, you were there an hour and five minutes. No red flag, nothing. Just enforcement saying one thing, the parker saying another.
  4. Meters in SF are being replaced with new on line meters that can tell “central” when they are broken. One would expect that the folks in the meter shop, that are going to have much less to do when the new ones go in, can be roving around the city, ensuring that meters are up and running. Oh, there could be a union problem here, too.

I just think that all the energy put in to monitoring and citing broken meters could be put into keeping them up and running. Better for the parkers, better for the city, better for everyone.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. Any amount of time allowed at a broken meter just encourages people to break the meter after they pull in. Not hard to figure out.

  2. When our parking meters are malfunctioning, they display a “NO PARKING” symbol. How is that any different than an on-street “NO PARKING” sign? If people are allowed to park at broken meters, soon they will ALL be broken!

  3. Both Bobra and TS are right. If you give free parking at a broken meter, you are asking for trouble. Bobra told me off line that the reason they aren’t fixed quickly is related to where the money from parking fines goes. If it goes back into the parking enforcement operation, they are fixed quickly. If it goes into the general fund, there is no money for repairs. Makes sense to me…JVH

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