Yeah, that's the ticket.

Let's talk about parking tickets, shall we?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Okay. I, Officer X, am going to tell you now which tickets I hate to write the most. Ready? Sidewalk tickets. That is when a vehicle parks across the sidewalk. I'll get to why I hate to write these in a moment. First, let's paint a little mental picture, shall we?

I want you to imagine a typical suburban side street. A fairly wide street with a lot of nice houses with driveways, trees lining both sides forming a beautiful, shady green canopy. No speed bumps. Idyllic, yes?

So what happens when I drive up or down one of these little slices of heaven? I see cars, SUVs, pickups or motorhomes parked across the sidewalk blocking pedestrian access. And worse, wheelchair access. Now, remember the mental picture of the street you formed? I want you to start at the mid-point in the street and go to one of the curbs on either side. Can you see it? Good. Now go up onto the curb. What do we find next? A grassy strip of land, usually with a tree or two on it, maybe a fire hydrant. This we call the parkway. Don't ask me why, I do not know. When I grew up back East, parkways were the same as freeways or expressways but more aptly named, especially in bumper-to-bumper traffic, because it felt as though you were there to park not move and there was nothing free or express-like about them. Sorry for that little digression. Now, what's next? Oh yes that's right, the sidewalk itself. And where the sidewalk ends (with a nod to Shel Silverstein), THEN comes your property. And guess what? Your driveway only extends out to your side of the sidewalk. Thaaaaat's right. You don't own the sidewalk, the parkway, OR the street in front of your house. Sorry to have to tell you this.

So, what happens? A person parks in their driveway but, oh no! There is already a car there (or two or I've even seen three, here in car-land). So what do they do? They leave the car hanging out over the sidewalk (ten inches over is all you get, folks) and a person walking a dog, pushing a baby stroller or a person in a wheelchair has to go onto the grass, down the sloping apron (the thing that allows you to actually get IN your driveway without having to jump the curb) and sometimes out into the street to get around your illegally parked car! Some of you, the ones with no shame at all, leave the entire tail end of your vehicle sticking into the street itself. Really!

Now, as I just said, this vehicle is parked illegally. So, why do I hate writing these kinds of tickets? Because nine times out of ten, I didn't have to write them at all. Why? Because there is usually plenty of legal parking on the street!!!! People, people, people. Come on! So many of you have this notion that the excuse of "I just ran in for a minute" justifies your behavior. Do you think it's okay to do something illegal "just for a minute?" Do you? Can I go in and rob a bank using that logic? "But Officer, I only robbed it for a minute!"

I want you to stop being so damned lazy and inconsiderate. It's cheaper. Oh, and stop parking facing the wrong direction that the rest of the cars on the street are parked in! Ugh, I'm exhausted.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

At the Schools

What is it about schools that make so many of the drivers here in SoCal forget everything they know about driving and the parking rules? Could it be that the desire to get as close as they can to the school to pick up their little darling makes them engage in behavior that endangers the very little ones they seek? Yep. People, lazy as we mostly all are, don't want to park a block or two away, go get their loved one, and actually walk back to their car (an excellent opportunity for bonding with the youngster - I know, I know, what am I crazy?).

The log jam of cars that occurs at the schools makes for a dangerous situation people! When you stop in the red zones (which are there for added visibility) or the crosswalks, or come to a dead stop in the traffic lanes to let your kid into the car, you don't realize that you, in your selfishness, are making the rest of the kids unsafe. Some of the youngest kids don't really think twice before darting out into the street. Those of you who are already distracted looking for your little tike might not see the darters. Let's not even talk about the other distractions, like the car radio, the cell phones, and the pretty mommies you enjoy ogling. Kids have been struck with vehicles in this town. Fortunately, none have been killed (at least since I've been here) but it seems only a matter of time. The crossing guards can only do so much and a lot of drivers routinely ignore them anyway, speeding down the street or blowing through their stop signs.

Whenever we make our presence known at a school, the drivers are upset with us (nobody likes the umpire). But if a child is injured or worse, and let's all hope this never happens, the outcry will be "Where was Parking Enforcement?" I am always gratified when school officials or the more enlightened parents come over to us and say "thanks for being here." We're there to protect the children. The safety of our future generation is worth it, don't you think?