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Quirky 'No Parking' space victimizes volunteer

Town Crier Staff Photo
This parking space behind the Costume Bank isn’t a parking space at all, as the faded white lines indicate.

While discussion and debate continue over creating more parking for downtown Los Altos, there is a kind of dysfunction going on with the operation of the existing lots.

As has been noted in this paper as recently as last week’s pro-parking-structure editorial, a structure could be the solution to accommodate current and future downtown visitors. But I think the city could also restripe some existing lots without a huge cost or destroying trees. Current spaces are oversized by 2014 standards. Spaces could be better used.

One small example: There’s a parking spot in Plaza 6 behind the Costume Bank on State Street that is certainly big enough to be a parking spot, and would make sense as a spot because it’s between two other spots – but it isn’t. It’s simply a space designated for no parking. If you look closely, you see a faded white border around the space, with white lines drawn through.

This has proven an unintentional trap for some motorists. One 15-year volunteer at the Costume Bank recently received a $54.50 parking ticket for unwittingly parking in the non-stall stall.

“There was a car that just pulled out of that space,” Tania Vecchiet said, “so I said, ‘Oh, a parking space.’”

She said she could hardly see the lines that designated the space “No Parking.”

“I should have seen those lines, but it’s like a full parking space,” Vecchiet said.

Rather than contest the ticket, she simply paid it.

“Some (painted parking-stall lines) are a little more faded than others,” said Los Altos Police Capt. Andy Galea.

Galea said parking enforcement officers take photos of the offending vehicles and surrounding conditions when citations are issued.

“Quite honestly, we don’t always get it right and we’re happy to take a look at it,” he said.

True to his word, Galea reviewed Vecchiet’s case and said he would dismiss the ticket. Given the time of day, he acknowledged that the lines were faint enough to prevent a motorist from seeing them clearly. At the same time, he forwarded a request to Public Works to restripe the site. I think the spot should be restriped into a parking space.

Bruce Barton is editor-in-chief of the Town Crier.

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