You Can’t Fight City Hall (At Least Not Without a Time Machine)

Earlier this year (May 9, 2015, a Saturday, to be exact), I got one of those late night phone calls that all parents dread.  Fortunately it turned out to be not all that bad.  My 18-year-old son and my 12-year-old Mini Cooper were stranded on the side of a dark and lonely highway, where the fully fueled car refused to start.

After reminding my son that the safest place to wait was in the car, I called a tow truck.  I asked my son to have the tow truck driver bring the car to a mechanic we had used in the past, and started walking from my house.  I arrived at the corner of Market & 17th at about the same time as they did, and we realized there was a spot right next to the shop.

Unfortunately, that entire side of the street was marked as No Parking, ostensibly for street sweeping, during the wee hours of Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  I asked the tow truck driver if he could get the car into my parking garage, but he said it was not possible due to the overhead clearance.  We finally decided that the best choice at that moment (nearing 1 am Sunday morning) was to unload the car and park it in the space next to the shop.

As soon as I got home, I called and emailed the shop, hoping that someone might check on Sunday when they were closed, but got no reply.  I also did some research online and found that the City of San Diego did not actually sweep the streets during the posted times, even though they were still issuing tickets.  I checked on the car throughout the day, looking for a space within a block or two where I might push the car, but had no luck.  I went back as late as midnight, but finally had to get some sleep.

I went back as soon as the shop opened Monday morning, and sure enough I had a $52.50 ticket for parking during street sweeping hours.  I later found out that the Mini Cooper had suffered a broken timing belt and would need to have the engine replaced (to the tune of approximately $5000), so I ended up selling it for parts and buying a new car.

Heaped on top of everything else that had happened, that parking ticket was really bothering me, so I looked up the parking citation appeal procedure.  One of the questions they ask is “Were there mitigating circumstances that prevented the driver from complying with the relevant parking regulation and, if so, did the driver take reasonable and timely steps to cure the violation?”  I felt that everything I had been through would certainly qualify as mitigating circumstances and I had most definitely taken “reasonable and timely steps” to get my car off the street as soon as I could.

Of course, as I’m sure you guessed, my initial appeal was denied.  That’s when I requested a hearing.  My hearing date was set for tomorrow, September 30, 2015.  Last week, I received this notice in the mail.  It is dated 9/10/2015:

TARDIS

Apparently the evidence I would have presented tomorrow would not have been good enough.  Obviously at this point I’m not even going to bother to show up.  At least I don’t think I am.  I mean, you know, who knows?  Years from now I might come back in my time machine.  Then again, if I had a time machine I never would have gotten the ticket in the first place.

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