It happens hundreds of times every month: Someone drives into Old Sacramento, snags a curbside parking spot – and stays long enough to get hit with a parking meter violation.
The city of Sacramento has given out more than 130,000 parking tickets citywide for expired meters since the start of 2015, according to a Sacramento Bee review of parking data. Those tickets have resulted in more than $5 million in levied fines (at $42.50 a pop).
A disproportionate number of those tickets were issued in Old Sacramento, whose riverfront access and Old West theme draw tons of tourists. About 20 percent of tickets for expired meters given since the start of 2015 have been in Old Sacramento, though less than 7 percent of the city’s meters are located in the area.
In most parts of the city, code enforcement officers give out parking meter tickets six days a week; in Old Sacramento, they’re issued seven days a week. But even excluding Sundays, about 70 of the 100 addresses in the city generating the most tickets were in Old Sacramento. Officials issued almost 10,000 tickets for expired parking meters since the start of 2015 just along the quarter-mile stretch of Front Street in Old Sacramento.
This map shows hotspots where the city gave out the most tickets for expired parking meters between January 1, 2015, and October 18, 2016. Click a dot to see more details about a parking space.(Click here if using the Bee's mobile app to see graphic.)
City spokeswoman Marycon Razo said the city isn’t going out of its way to target meter violators in Old Sacramento. “The city enforces parking regulations each day equally throughout the city, utilizing a dozen officers,” she said.
One factor in the discrepancy, she said, could involve disabled parking placards. There are more than 150,000 of the blue placards issued in the Sacramento region, she said, and they tend to be used by people parked at meters downtown – with its concentration of apartments and businesses – far more often than by people parking in Old Sacramento. Motorists with disabled placards can park at a meter all day without time limits.
Different parts of the city also have different time limits on meters. Some meters on the edge of downtown allow residents to park for 10 hours. Some in the heart of downtown allow only one hour of parking. The meters in Old Sacramento allow for two hours of parking. The city is phasing in an app that allows drivers to extend the hours on their meter if they’re willing to pay a higher rate - a change that has reduced parking meter tickets in 2016, Razo said.
Another finding in The Bee’s analysis: Saturdays – when people generally are parking for pleasure outings and charity runs rather than work – see much higher numbers of expired meter tickets than other days of the week. About 28,000 parking meter tickets have been issued on Saturdays since the start of 2015, about 7,400 more tickets than the city issued on Wednesdays, the next highest day.
The city issues significantly fewer tickets on Mondays than on other weekdays. There is also a significant drop in parking meter violations every day between noon and 1 p.m., perhaps because drivers are taking a lunch break.
The number of tickets the city issues is likely to rise in coming years, as the city extends the hours for meter operations and a flood of cars come downtown for Kings games and other events at the new Golden 1 Center.
Data Tracker is a regular feature that breaks down the numbers behind today’s news. Explore more trends at sacbee.com/datatracker.