ConsumerWatch: Persistence Pays Off Fighting SF Parking Ticket

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Christmas Day Parking Enforcement In San Francisco

A San Francisco Department of Parking and Traffic officer places a parking ticket on the windshield of a car in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Fighting a parking ticket, even one you didn’t deserve, isn’t easy in San Francisco. As a lot of people who’ve fought them have found out, you may have to make your case more than once.

Shadi Saba, a tourist from Philadelphia, was issued a parking ticket last November while visiting the city with his father and brother the weekend daylight saving time ended. The ticket was issued at 1:25 am, more than half an hour before a 2 a.m. no-parking rule went into effect.

“Whoever issued the citation, must have gone off their actual watch or something,” Saba told ConsumerWatch.

So, Saba appealed, assuming his case was a slam-dunk. But eight months later, he got a letter back from San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Administration (SFMTA), saying the citation “was properly issued and is valid.”

“We we all really shocked. I knew I didn’t break the rule,” Saba recalled.

Frustrated, Saba contacted ConsumerWatch, and we took the matter up with the SFMTA. After our request for a review, the agency dismissed the ticket.

“We got it wrong, and we apologize for that,” SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose told ConsumerWatch. Rose said it’s not clear why the ticket was issued, or why it wasn’t dismissed on appeal. But Rose said Saba could have, and should have, appealed the appeal. ”There’s a process in place that you can appeal the first time, and if you don’t agree with the finding, you can appeal it as well.”

In all, people who are issued parking tickets in San Francisco get three chances to make their case. And in fact, that second or third appeal is when many mistakes get caught, according to SFMTA data. According to the agency’s figures from 2010, 55% of tickets that were appealed a second time, ended up getting dismissed. Overall, the dismissal rate for all tickets is just about two percent.

ConsumerWatch has received similar complaints from drivers throughout the Bay Area. If you feel your parking ticket appeal was wrongfully denied, send an email to consumerwatch@cbssf.com.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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