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ConsumerWatch: Persistence May Pay Off When Appealing Parking Tickets

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - Getting a parking ticket is a pain, but what if persistence helped you get out of it?  Turns out, in some communities in the Bay Area, appealing a citation repeatedly makes all the difference.

This trend is no more evident that in the city of San Francisco. Appeal a ticket once? The likelihood of that ticket being upheld is 70 percent. Show up to the San Francisco MTA's headquarters and appeal for a second time? According the statistics, your chances of getting it dismissed are 50 percent.

By contrast, San Jose's enforcement of parking tickets is not as variable. More than 75 percent of tickets that are appealed just once, are upheld. And those who try to get the verdict changed on a second and third attempt, only have a 10 percent chance of getting the ticket tossed out.

None of this alleviates confusion on the streets where drivers often do not know whether a parking spot is legal or not.

"I looked all over to see if there was any sign," says Justin Kinsinger who got a ticket for one hundred dollars in a spot he thought was legal. Kinsinger had missed a recently installed street sign that was obscured by a tree. "I don't know how I missed that sign."

Even a San Francisco parking enforcement officer was at first confused, telling a CBS 5 producer that people could park drivers could park at one particular spot, but then reevaluated: "No. because there is another sign up there. That is why you have to be careful about every sign."

A common problem says David LaBua, author of the "The Sweet Spot," a short book on how to find parking in San Francisco. "What I am noticing lately that you have to afraid of the meter person not knowing the rules and giving you an erroneous ticket."

For its part, the San Francisco MTA says the appeals process is in place to correct errors and that the agency is committed to getting things right.

Those who do appear at their headquarters have mixed reviews. "This is a big waste of my time especially if it was not my fault," said Carl Alva who left work to dispute a ticket. "If it was my fault then I would pay the ticket and that's it."

But one Canadian tourist who took the time to argue his point, left a happy customer. "I have basically been here for less than an hour," said Tom Duncan. "I have resolved the issue."

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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