Although Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a city holiday, it is not one of the six each year when Sacramento turns off its parking meters and lets people park for free.
Some participants in the MLK march this year discovered that fact to their chagrin, returning to cars with tickets on the windshield, said Councilwoman Angelique Ashby. She was made aware of the tickets after people who received citations posted images of the tickets and complaints on Facebook.
Ashby has asked city officials to include MLK Day on the free parking list from now on.
The idea, Ashby said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, is to be more hospitable “so that people don’t get tickets, particularly along the parade route and downtown because 30,000 people came to walk with us and they had a hard time parking and got tickets.”
Speaking later to The Bee, she said she thinks tickets from Monday should be waived “if people got tickets while participating in the march, and believed the parking to be free because of the event, or the holiday.”
Ashby’s concerns were echoed by Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who said parking restrictions should be lifted “at least for the parade.”
Marycon Young, spokeswoman for the city parking division, said only 19 parking tickets were given out Monday.
In an email to The Bee, Young wrote, “Motorists are encouraged to always look at signage and the meter itself for any information on parking restrictions. On meter holidays, the meter screen will reflect the words, ‘No Payment Required.’ If those words are not on the screen, then payment is required.”
The meters will be running this Saturday during the Sacramento Women’s March downtown, city officials said. That march, which drew tens of thousands last year, will go from Southside Park to the west steps of the state Capitol.
Adding MLK Day to the list of parking holidays would require City Council action. The expired meter citation fine is $42.50 in Sacramento.
The request by Ashby is the second time in recent months that council members have challenged the city’s parking ticket practices.
Councilman Steve Hansen in November asked the city auditor to investigate the city’s parking meter program after constituents complained about a spike in erroneous expired meter tickets last year.
“It is really a matter of trust,” Hansen said. “If the city can’t enforce its parking regulations correctly, the public can’t trust us.”
The number of improper expired meter tickets in Sacramento spiked last year to more than 3,900, nearly twice the number of dismissals over the first 10 months of 2016, according to citation data.
The dismissals amount to more than 5 percent of tickets issued last year at expired meters. In 2016, 4.2 percent of tickets were dismissed and less than 3 percent were tossed out the year before.
City parking officials acknowledged they already had been proactively dismissing erroneous tickets after discovering problems with their ParkMobile app, a wireless payment device that allows motorists to pay via smartphone rather than put coins or a credit card in the meter.
Sacramento’s six parking holidays
New Year’s Day
Fourth of July
Source: City of Sacramento