Hot ticket: Politicos pitch in — unwillingly — to alleviate city deficit

Former Supervisor and state Senator Carole Migden and City Attorney Dennis Herrera met recently for lunch at Firewood Cafe in the Castro. We don't know whether they split their meals. We don't know whether they split the bill. But we do know they split the ticket.

When Migden and Herrera ambled back to their cars — parked next to one another — they found they'd both been visited by the Department of Parking and Traffic's finest. And both received the sorts of tickets that could send even Gandhi into a profane tirade. “I was more than 18 inches from the curb,” said Migden, patiently, of her $48 ticket. “I wasn't curbing my wheels — it was barely an incline!” a slightly exasperated Herrera said of his $48 mistake.

It's hard to blame Herrera for being frustrated. Last month, he actually received two tickets for not curbing his wheels — the first he's ever gotten for that infraction (the second ticket came on a street with “the slightest of inclines”). He isn't taking legal action, and doesn't think anyone is out to get him. But Migden isn't so sure: “I do believe, as a revenue measure, there seems to be a disposition toward parking violations.”

SF Weekly's Immediate Disclosure Request for Department of Parking and Traffic statistics regarding the number of ticky-tack tickets given out for noncurbed wheels or 19-inch curb jobs has not yet been fulfilled. Yet Municipal Transportation Authority spokesman Judson True said that if there's been an communiqué to beef up enforcement of pre-existing parking laws, it's news to him.

“Our goal is to enforce parking laws regardless of the budget situation,” he said. “The Parking Control Officers are not out to solve the budget single-handedly. I've never heard of any direct communication to PCOs saying, 'We have a budget problem. Go write tickets.' That's not how it works.”

True sympathizes with Herrera's plight, meanwhile, noting that he has also been nailed for failing to curb his wheels. In fact, it appears the DPT has done quite well preying on its spokesman. He once picked up so many tickets that his car was booted.

Perhaps True and Migden need to go to lunch and have a traffic woes contest. Loser pays the other's ticket.

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