With Salt Lake City officials wondering why they have experienced a $1.5 million shortfall in parking revenue, I have written about a number of inventive ways the city has found to enhance that revenue through parking tickets.
First, there was the case of the fading registration sticker. Salt Lake City was the only jurisdiction in the county that issued tickets for vehicles that had faded stickers due to an inferior dye.
Then parking enforcers patrolled the Avenues, where many homes have no off-street parking, and issued tickets for parking more than 12 inches from the curb.
Then there was the parking cop who would hang outside the Capitol Theatre at the time Ballet West rehearsals were letting out and give tickets to parents waiting at the curb for their children to come out.
Now there is the case of the disappearing receipt.
Cary Hobbs traveled from Midway to Salt Lake City recently for the Art & Soup Celebration at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
On the way, his passenger read out loud to him my chronicling in The Salt Lake Tribune of the creative ticketing practices employed by Salt Lake City Parking Enforcement. He didn’t realize he was about to become a victim of such creativity.
He found a parking place across from Temple Square at 6:45 p.m. and plugged $2.50 in quarters into the meter to cover him until the 8 p.m. enforcement deadline.
When he returned to his car at 9 p.m., he had a ticket on his windshield for an expired meter. It was time-stamped at 7:25 p.m. He was out of luck, because when he put his money in the machine, it did not give him a receipt. He didn’t think that mattered until he got the ticket.
Hobbs, who has a radio show on KTMP in Heber City, had plans to tell his audience to boycott Salt Lake City and its "parking Nazis."
But his attitude softened when his letter of complaint to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker triggered a response from Benjamin Roberts, compliance director for the city’s public services. Roberts asked for more detail about Hobbs’ ticket and promised to investigate why no receipt was given.
He might also want to talk to Orem resident Harold McCown. He drove to Salt Lake City with his daughter and grandson earlier this month to see the "Dead Sea Scrolls" exhibit at The Leonardo.
Like Hobbs, McCown parked at the curb, checked the time, which was 10 a.m., and paid into the meter with a credit card. He punched in two hours after swiping his card, but when the meter said to take his printed receipt, none came.
You know the rest of the story.
He went back to his car at 11:40 a.m. and had a ticket.
"Although I have enjoyed visiting Salt Lake in the past, I will no longer be visiting downtown , or any other place where these meters are employed," McCown wrote to Becker.
Roberts, the compliance director, told me there are technical glitches with some payments not being registered. He said his office is working with the meter vendor to work out the bugs.
Meanwhile, he said he doesn’t blame motorists for being upset and while the city will return the money to those who got ripped off by the malfunctioning system, he knows it’s a hassle people should not have to endure.
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