Big Brother or Caught in the Act? SF Buses to Issue Parking Tickets

Flick user Forty PhotographsParking in San Francisco is not a nightmare, but more of a craps shoot.  When Mrs HM and I lived in the City we only had one car and it was a small car at that.  When trying to find parking there was a rule:

3 blocks 6 times or 6 blocks 3 times.

This meant that if you went around the 3 nearest blocks in all directions 6 times you were not going to find a spot and should just find a shady spot maybe no one would see you.  But you had to be careful.  Handicap spots and the little ramps in the sidewalks were big tickets and I would never block a plug (hydrant).  Parking in a driveway or blocking a garage not your own was a guaranteed tow, so sneaking into a half spot was generally attempted, sometimes with success, other times that little white envelope would be waiting for you in the morning.

Unless of course you forgot which day of the week street cleaning was.  Then you’ve got another ticket for that too.

The Department of Parking and Traffic wanders the City in little 3 wheeled bikes and are almost like locusts swarming through the neighborhoods looking for places to earn revenue.  It’s a thankless job and when I see their little trucks parked on a plug and they’re no where in sight I call them in as illegally parked.

But I’ve gotten a bit off topic.

Point is, when you would be sitting at a sidewalk cafe and see a DPT bike go by, you suddenly sprang up and sprinted to the clearly expired meter and gave it another 25 cents for another 4 minutes without a $65 ticket.

But since 2008 the DPT officers aren’t looking around as often.

Listen to KRON 4′s Gabe Slate and Stanley Roberts Team up to look at how transit buses are issuing parking tickets just by driving down the street.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=u3S2MVQW_qs']

Installed on select Municipal Transportation Buses (MUNI) are cameras that capture images of cars along the bus’s route.  Those videos are then screened by a DPT officer and offending vehicles are sent tickets in the mail.

Unlike static red light cameras, they are able to see if a vehicle is moving, blocking traffic, occupied etc.  However, Happy is not a fan.

Reason being that buses are buses and parking enforcement is parking enforcement.  In addition, I seriously doubt the MUNI drivers are being cited for all their traffic violations, including blocking multiple lanes, stopping blocking intersections, illegal turns etc.  Or perhaps the drivers are safer now that the cameras are installed?

Either way, the City sees some value to the service since over the next 15 months cameras will be installed on all 819 buses.  At a cost of $800,000 in a City facing cuts in Fire, Police, EMS, library, even MUNI is hard to justify.  But in 2010 they recovered almost 1/4 of that cost on only 30 buses.

You do the math.

Some will scream “Big Brother!” and I see that argument and raise you a “it’s breaking posted laws.”

I only hope that the trucks that double park 2 and 3 wide directly next to a clearly identified loading zone get fined as much as the drivers who don’t notice the 3 feet tall letters on the street “TAXI ONLY.”

Perhaps MC could speak to the validity of mounting a camera on the ambulances to capture traffic violations?  I think we could up that 2102 citations in a year in just a few months the way folks seem to go insane around an ambulance.

Do you think this program is a good idea?  Think it goes too far?

Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? Why not leave a comment or subscribe to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader?

2 thoughts on “Big Brother or Caught in the Act? SF Buses to Issue Parking Tickets”

  1. Wow, one agency doing the work of another. That’s bad. Well, except for when the FD takes over an EMS agency. Then it’s good. 

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