Sunday, January 10, 2010

Suspicions confirmed: SF has parking ticket quotas

It's long been a complaint by drivers who get questionable parking tickets that public agencies have ticket quotas that have to be filled regardless of actual infractions committed. According to an Examiner article (below in italics) last Friday, the city is admitting that it expects its remaining 275 parking control officers to each issue at least 540 parking tickets per month.

Those who drive in San Francisco have always been an important source of revenue for the city (see City Drivers: Chumps and Cash Cows).
 
But the city is now worried that parking tickets issued have declined 16% even though there were more parking control officers on city streets. Not surprisingly the drop in tickets issued is due in part to the recession, which means fewer cars on city streets: "The MTA has attributed the 16 percent drop in citations to cash-strapped drivers becoming more wary of parking regulations, a decrease in street-sweeping operations and fewer motorists out on the road because of the weakened economy."

"Wary" drivers? Translation: As per Darwin's theory, the prey is becoming more adept at avoiding the predators.
January 8, 2010

The Municipal Transportation Agency is counting on its remaining 254 parking control officers to each issue 540 monthly citations to maintain its revenue.

Although fewer parking enforcers will be on the streets next month handing out citations to scofflaw drivers, it is very unlikely the number of tickets being handed out will decrease.

Since The City flooded the streets with additional parking control officers in the last two years, the number of parking citations has been on the decline, prompting city officials to take some of the ticket cops off the streets.

In fiscal year 2007-08, the number of parking control officers in San Francisco increased from 261 to 282---an 8 percent jump. But that hiring surge did not stem an ongoing slide in annual parking citations---which peaked at 1.9 million in the 2005 fiscal year---and is projected to drop to 1.6 million this fiscal year, according to the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees parking policies and enforcement.

The MTA has attributed the 16 percent drop in citations to cash-strapped drivers becoming more wary of parking regulations, a decrease in street-sweeping operations and fewer motorists out on the road because of the weakened economy.

In the 2003-04 fiscal year, each parking control officer doled out an average of 611 citations per month. For this fiscal year, which ends in June, parking control officers are projected to hand out an average of 498 per month, according to an MTA document obtained by The Examiner.

The agency has used that drop in production as justification for the planned layoffs of 24 parking control officers later this month.

The MTA faces a midyear projected deficit of $49.1 million---$4 million more than first reported in November. The agency has proposed laying off 108 workers and eliminating 142 positions---saving $12.5 million in salaries and benefits---as a way to cut into that shortfall.

“I feel like we’ve done our due diligence on this matter,” MTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said at Tuesday’s board of directors meeting. “All of these positions---we need them, we just can’t afford them.”

Overall, the MTA has come up with $28 million in cost-saving measures, but the agency has yet to determine how it will come up with the remaining $21 million needed by the end of the fiscal year.

While all 108 layoffs have been met with resistance, the decision to let go of the 24 parking control officers has attracted the most indignation, since those employees generate revenue for The City.

However, the MTA believes there won’t be a revenue drop, so long as the remaining 254 parking control officers step up their production.

If each one of those officers gives out 540 monthly citations---nine less than the 2007-08 fiscal year monthly average of 549---the agency won’t lose parking-ticket money.

Many parking control officers have questioned the MTA’s layoff calculations. SEIU Local 1021, the union representing the officers, has yet to make a full review of the MTA’s traffic citation data, but officials from the organization have said most of the information is based on projections and does not accurately reflect the ticketing potential of the laid-off employees.

Elias Georgeopolous, a parking control officer who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, said the 24 layoffs will actually cost the department $8.64 million in lost revenue. And he said that was a “low estimate.”

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6 Comments:

At 9:22 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Translation: As per Darwin's theory, the prey is becoming more adept at avoiding the predators."

Translation: The drivers can no longer afford to misbehave. You only get a ticket if you BREAK THE LAW.

Fear not - more illegal parkers still get away with it than don't.

 
At 8:36 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"You only get a ticket if you BREAK THE LAW."

You're kidding, right? The point is that the parking control people have to meet a quota, which means a lot of bad and/or marginally justified tickets get issued. And the way the system is set up it's hard to successfully challenge a ticket once it's issued.

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Marginally justified is still justified. No excuses.

I'm kidding of course. My wife has gotten wheel curbing tickets that were pretty stupid.

If I were an MTA parking officer with a quota, I'd just run over to the Sunset/Richmond and make a sweep on sidewalk parkers and have my quota done by lunch. You can bitch that the MTA officers are ticketing bogus offenses, but it's absolutely true that most legitimate parking offenses are missed, or ignored.

 
At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an idea for how to increase DPT revenues: start ticketing bicyclists for all of their violations. If they were to start ticketing cyclists for riding on the sidewalk, failure to stop at intersections, and other illegal maneuvers, the city would be back in the black in no time.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"You can bitch that the MTA officers are ticketing bogus offenses, but it's absolutely true that most legitimate parking offenses are missed, or ignored."

My point exactly: the parking control people's fundraising function is more important than their enforcement function.

 
At 3:07 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"I have an idea for how to increase DPT revenues: start ticketing bicyclists for all of their violations. If they were to start ticketing cyclists for riding on the sidewalk, failure to stop at intersections, and other illegal maneuvers, the city would be back in the black in no time."

I am 100% in favor of using gestapo enforcement tactics - no excuses - on cyclists and drivers alike. Roll a stop sign on your bike? Ticket. Sidewalk ride? Ticket. Double park for 1 second? Ticket. Drive 36 in a 35? Ticket. Turn right on red without stopping? License please.

Utopia. I guarantee the cyclists would adjust far more easily than the motorists.

 

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