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DSA In the News

Council compromises on parking fine hike

Published on 5/25/2011

Some parking fines in San Carlos just got a little more expensive although the City Council agreed not to increase the penalty for exceeding the allotted time limits.

After the council failed to halve the proposed $8 increase across the board Monday night, it agreed 3-1 only to change the fines for parking infractions that don’t involve overtime. Councilman Bob Grassilli dissented.

The violations subject to the increase include parking in red zones, within 15 feet of a fire station, where prohibited and with the wheels 18 inches from the curb.

Councilman Matt Grocott, who made the final motion, said even the existing $35 fine can be a financial hardship. Changing all fines to $43 is even more so, he said, particularly for residents without jobs or who live in neighborhoods where parking near their homes can cause tickets.

“I think, given our economy, the fine where it stands is OK and increasing it up to $43, I think it’s a big percentage and it’s too much,” Grocott said.

Grassilli agreed, but failed to gain support for a motion to increase all fines only by $4. Councilman Randy Royce disagreed with Grocott’s initial proposal to let the current fine stand, saying the city already gives residents a deal on parking by not using meters.

“You end up spending as much as Starbucks as you do the quarters in your ashtray” for parking, Royce said.

Prior to the vote, resident Pat Bell suggested the city make parking violations administrative citations, similar to code violations, that can be fined through the city without a requirement to pay a portion to the county or state. Doing so, she said, would allow the city to maintain the status quo and keep more money in its own coffers.

The city of San Carlos last raised parking fines in 2008. The Police Department budgeted $150,000 from fines this fiscal year but so far has raised only $61,852, according to data from San Mateo County Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Rothaus.

In the last two years, the city has lost $7.50 per citation due to two state bills diverting some of the money for court maintenance and construction. As a result, the average revenue loss is more than $36,000.