Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why I LOVE living in this city (part 68)

OK, I'm not the most alert city parker, and I'll own it.

Paid $40 one April day for blocking an auto-body driveway, having stopped there at 1:30 a.m. in a non-attentive stupor. Did not argue with the tow truck asking for $135 to haul the Mazda 8 blocks so the city could both clean Dorchester Street and charge me an additional $40 for forgetting it was Thursday.

But I refuse the notion that I could park in Southie resident parking for 3 weeks with a borrowed Southie resident parking sticker ... only to one random morning find one random meter maid decided that offense was worth another $40 for non-resident parking. Even though my car has been registered to my Southie address since February 2008.

If it wasn't a crime for 3 weeks -- or more to the point, for 13 months -- why was it a crime that Saturday night in February?

(Now I know you're all going to tell me to just get thee down to City Hall and get my own parking sticker. Which I should. But I still find the logic of why I deserve a ticket, I don't know, completely illogical.)

Meanwhile, I parked adjacent to this crosswalk at the corner of I Street & East First on the Saturday night before the St. Patrick's Day parade, along with 6 or 7 others:

You tell me where the No Parking sign is. I had to search it out after I came a week later to move my car and found 3 $15 tickets on the windshield.

(See the light pole? The one that that white pick-up is parked right in front of?)

Three weeks ago I composed a letter to the City of Boston Parking Clerk appealing all 4 tickets. Arguing about the resident sticker violation, when I don't have my own resident sticker, was of course going to be a stretch. But I tried to appeal to common sense:

"My resident parking sticker does not match the license plate; however, the vehicle does have a sticker .... valid through 2009 for South Boston. This sticker came from the car's previous owner, also a resident of South Boston, which is the reason I have not replaced it. I am indeed a resident of South Boston and this vehicle is registered to the above-referenced South Boston address. To that end, I have enclosed a copy of my Motor Excise Bill to the City of Boston issued on 2/4/09 that proves this fact."
Then, based on the photo above (which I enclosed) and the argument below, the request to waive the second batch of tickets would be a no-brainer:

"I note again the inconsistent enforcement. The car was parked for 3 days and nights before receiving a ticket, and did not receive any the last 2 days it was there. Why would some officers choose this to be a no-parking situation and others not? I would suggest it is due to the same confusion I experienced: the sign is simply not clear that the area is a no-parking zone."
So yesterday I heard back from the City of Boston with near-identical rejection form letters:

THE OFFICE OF THE PARKING CLERK IS INFORMING YOU THAT THE TICKET(S) BELOW CANNOT BE DISMISSED FOR THE REASONS STATED IN YOUR CORRESPONDENCE. YOU DO HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPEAL THIS TICKET AT A HEARING. HOWEVER, HEARING OFFICERS CANNOT DISMISS VALIDLY ISSUED TICKET(S) WHICH CONFORM TO PARKING RULES AND REGULATIONS.

Additionally, the resident parking violation is no longer eligible for an appeal hearing since ACCORDING TO THE BOSTON TRANSPORTATION RULES AND REGULATIONS AN APPEAL MUST BE RECEIVED WITHIN 45 DAYS OF THE FIRST MAIL NOTICE.

The impersonal all-caps printing of these notices rankled me more than the notices themselves. The 45-day period, arbitrarily assigned. The blanket rejection of reasoned logic with, most likely, no consideration or appreciation for situation.

I thought back to growing up in North Dakota where no one ever bothers you for simply parking on the street near where you live.

9 comments:

amcott. said...

The all-caps hurt my eyes.

Joshua said...

I love the photo posted as evidence. :)

Anonymous said...

The enforcement of these tickets appear to be similar to the reason they don't give tickets to everyone who is going over the speed limit or not wearing their seat belts or jaywalking or many other things.

You should be happy you didn't get them the previous 13 months.

squigkato said...

This is an election year in Boston, Karin. Let your City Councilors and His Honor know of your displeasure.

Whenever a municipality needs funds, it collects fees and fines with abandon, irregardless of common sense, sorry to say.

Karin said...

Yes, Joshua. I am shocked that they were not swayed. I am taking those tix to a hearing and will bring the photo.

Anonymous, what frustrates me is that if they're looking at the resident sticker and don't see a match, why they don't run my plates to see where the car is registered to.

I understand the rules and regs necessary for a large population center to function smoothly....yet am always stymied by the bureauracy: having to register the car one place (and pay for it), pay excise taxes to another, and still then go to a third place to pick up an (inexplicably, somehow, free) parking sticker that, say, could be something picked up when registering the car.

So many layers. Necessary on one hand. Aggravating on so many others.

I think the remaining frustration is the automated reply, making it seem like any critical thought in the matter (as explained by me) or any leniency were dismissed out of hand. People may be stopped for speeding but have the opportunity to contest the ruling.

cousin j said...

Am I jerk to say that this is my tradeoff: I can park anywhere, truly, anywhere, but it takes 2 months to deliver a car, another to get plates for it and honestly, a bevy of workers to process the paperwork to even make it happen in that ice age time? Bureaucracy sucks, but having a car in hand is maybe more valuable than the endless waiting, even if you face constant parking issues.

Runner Girl said...

I'm confused b/c I can clearly see a no parking sign in the top right of your photo. I must have not read the parking issue closely enough.

I do however agree with the randomness and bureaucracy of the parking system in Boston. I spent an entire day when I moved there going from office to office getting the car registered, insured, getting a parking sticker and an inspection. It was a nightmare and literally took from 9am-8pm.

I somehow managed to only get one parking ticket the whole year I was there and that was for parking half an inch into a yellow zone while grabbing a starbucks. I was in the store literally 4 minutes and in that time someone came, wrote the ticket, and left--and I never saw them. I'm still not sure how that was humanly possible!

Karin said...

Hey, RG -- I should have explained it. That sign in the front of the pix is a "No Parking during snow emergency."

Runner Girl said...

I think I just proved why I'm a southern girl...that thought never entered my mind. No parking means no parking where I'm from...there aren't any allocations for weather related parking no-no's :)