The six-month report on the street-sweeping parking enforcement program was presented 6 weeks ago tonight. During the Study Session discussion, it seemed that every single member of the council had concerns about the enforcement program and was interested in finding some kind of solution for residents who have no place to park on street-sweeping day. Anyone who has been watching the City Council meetings for the last eight months knows that I am interested in the same thing, so I was encouraged by the tone of the discussion. The minutes from that meeting read, "City Council directed Staff to attempt to develop a set of criteria for granting permanent program accommodations to residents." Sadly, another six weeks have passed with still no action being taken. How many hundreds of additional tickets have been issued in that period of time? How long will Brea residents continue to be subjected to this curb tax before their hardships are dealt with? How long does it take the City Manager to come up with some simple solutions to present to the Council? Why can't the Council come up with some ideas of its own? I've been sharing the results of my own research with this Council for eight months now. So what's the holdup?! The word "glacial" seems too generous to describe the pace at which this Council and the city staff moves. You've known about this problem for 38 weeks now, and you've done absolutely nothing about it. The residents of Brea are waiting and they deserve action.
Another thing we are anxiously awaiting is an analysis of the parking ticket appeal process. At the April 6 meeting, some very general ticket data was given, including a variety of reasons given by people who were appealing their tickets (there were approximately 300 such appeals in the first six months of the program). No information was provided as to which of these reasons were good enough to get a ticket excused, however, and only about 100 of the appealed tickets were eventually overturned so it appears to be quite an uphill battle. I asked to see this data, but was told that an analysis was being undertaken so I've agreed to wait. Once again, here we are six weeks later and we're still waiting to see whether or not this is a fair process with reasonable criteria being uniformly applied.
Apparently, you can sometimes talk yourself out of a ticket. I know one resident whose police-officer husband was called to work early one morning and he had to leave his car behind at his house. With his short driveway, his car is always parked on the street. Unfortunately, his wife doesn't drive a stick-shift so she was unable to move it. She explained this to the enforcement officer when the sweeper came, and luckily she was spared a ticket. However, I heard about a similar situation recently when a friend of mine witnessed his neighbor standing by her car that was also parked on the street, waiting for the street sweeper to come. Clearly, she could not move the car for some reason I don't know if the car was disabled, or if she couldn't drive it, or maybe she had a sleeping baby in the house. After the sweeper drove around her car, she explained her situation to the enforcement officer, but she was issued a ticket anyway. Doesn't seem like a very fair process, does it? Perhaps if this resident had come to some council meetings she would have known to contact the watch commander for an exemption. No one really knows whether or not her excuse would have been good enough, though, since there are no guidelines posted on these matters. Or perhaps she would have had my experience and would not have been able to get in touch with the watch commander that morning, so perhaps she would have been ticketed anyway. Does it sound like a city that is following the Spirit of the Law? Does this sound like a City that is responding to the hardships of its residents? I don't think so.
Speaking of getting out of a ticket, I've heard during various Council meetings that certain vehicles are exempt from ticketing, including workers' trucks and those displaying handicap placards. However, there is no documentation for these exemptions they weren't included in the resolution, nothing is mentioned on the website, and these exemptions were never described in any Public Works mailings, so how are residents supposed to know that it is okay to leave such vehicles on the street on street-sweeping day? The website doesn't even mention that residents can call the watch commander if they need a temporary exemption, so even that option is not well known outside these chamber walls. Every week, we see landscapers frantically moving from driveway to driveway in a mad scramble to avoid ticketing - how would they know any better? Should they take my word for it? These hard-working individuals cannot risk being fined, so the panic continues. This is more evidence that the City Council majority continues to be oblivious to our hardships and is out of touch with its constituents. If action cannot be taken immediately, then the parking enforcement should be suspended until the program's flaws are thoroughly studied and can be properly fixed. Continued inaction by this Council is simply unacceptable.
[click here to download pdf of this presentation]