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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vandals Get Two Free Hours of Parking When They Break Meters

Posted By on Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 4:21 PM

click to enlarge Motorists, start your sledgehammers!
  • Motorists, start your sledgehammers!
Motorists, start your sledgehammers!
Vandals who break meters will get rewarded with two hours of free parking under a new system being installed this spring, reports.

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, vandals are breaking between 240 and 450 parking meters each day in San Francisco, which costs the city nearly $300,000 in annual repairs.

Right now, vandals -- or anyone for that matter -- get to park for free at a broken meter, but only as long as the time designated time limit allows, whether it is 30 minutes or one hour. However, that might soon change under a new policy being consideration by the Agency board.

This spring, the city plans to roll out a system called SFPark, whereby

parking prices will go up or down depending upon parking demand at a

given time of day. The idea is to use pricing to open up more spaces, making it more convenient for people who need to park on

downtown streets.

Part of SFPark's convenience includes letting

people park for extended periods by paying with a credit card. 

Theoretically this means vandals could be rewarded with an all-day

parking pass. The board, however, is considering limiting it to just two hours free parking

Critics have complained that this policy still leaves in place an incentive for people to destroy city property, and that it would be better to prohibit parking in front of broken meters. They're right, obviously. L.A., Seattle, Denver, Vancouver and Houston prohibit parking at broken meters, so as not to incentivize vandalism. This is unfeasible here, however, given the limitless power of San Francisco's motorist lobby.

Streetsblog quoted MTA boss Nat Ford saying, "the two-hour free parking limit at vandalized SFPark meters will be set "somewhere in the middle" of other cities."

Next -- we can only hope -- will come rules saying we can steal jewelry for only two hours after breaking a Union Square store window, or mug tourists for only 120 minutes if we slash the tires of a Fisherman's Wharf cop.

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