Coalition Demands End to City’s Unconstitutional Towing Practices

News from LCCR – SF Bay Area and Bay Area Legal Aid – Press Release

October 11, 2018

Contact: Taylor Brady, TBrady@baylegal.org, (510) 250-5234; Matt Kovac, mkovac@lccr.com, (415) 510-9601

Civil Rights and Legal Aid Groups Demand End to City’s Unconstitutional Towing Practices

Groups issue letter to City Attorney over violation of low-income people’s 4th Amendment rights

SAN FRANCISCO – One day after a federal court ordered the City of San Francisco to return an impounded car to its homeless owner, the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, represented by Bay Area Legal Aid and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, is demanding that the City immediately cease towing and impounding vehicles over unpaid parking tickets unless the City determines the owner is financially able to pay.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Bay Area Legal Aid issued a letter to City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera this morning demanding an end to the current towing policy, citing Monday’s ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California…

“The City is taking and selling the cars of low-income people across the city simply because they cannot afford to pay parking tickets. We call on the City to end its current towing policy and adopt a constitutional, common-sense approach to collecting on tickets that does not punish low-income people,” said Elisa Della-Piana, LCCR legal director...

“No one wins under the City’s current towing practices,” said Rebekah Evenson, Director of Litigation at Bay Area Legal Aid. “Poor people lose their cars without any opportunity to show that they couldn’t afford to pay.  Residents of the City lose, with increased poverty and homelessness. And the City loses financially: the value of these cars rarely covers the cost of tow and storage, and the cars are often sold at a loss. It’s time for reform.”

The City Attorney has until Friday, October 19 to respond.

Read the full demand letter here.

.. (more)

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San Francisco Ordered To Return Car To Homeless Man Unable To Pay Parking Fines

cbslocal – excerpt (includes video)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the city of San Francisco to return a towed car to a homeless man who couldn’t afford to pay the parking tickets he received while working as a food delivery driver.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said Sean Kayode had raised “serious questions” about whether the March 5 towing of his car because of unpaid parking tickets violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures.

White wrote that in a situation in which a car owner can’t afford to pay overdue parking tickets, “it is not clear…that seizure is reasonable in an effort to secure repayment of the debt owed.”… (more)

Judge orders SF to return impounded car to homeless man

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the city of San Francisco to return a towed car to a homeless man who couldn’t afford to pay the parking tickets he received while working as a food delivery driver.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said Sean Kayode had raised “serious questions” about whether the March 5 towing of his car because of unpaid parking tickets violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures.

White wrote that in a situation in which a car owner can’t afford to pay overdue parking tickets, “it is not clear…that seizure is reasonable in an effort to secure repayment of the debt owed.”…

“We hope this opinion will induce the city to reconsider its towing policy and work with us to develop one that is constitutional and does not punish people for being poor,” said Eliza Della-Piana, legal director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil rights… (more)

Homeless SF residents sue to stop city from impounding their cars

By : curbed – excerpt

Unpaid parking tickets deprive homeless residents of only shelter

A San Francisco man has sued SFMTA in an attempt to keep the city from impounding the cars of homeless people for whom their vehicle is also their only shelter. It turns out he’s not alone.

KQED reports on the story of Sean Kayode, who had been living in his 2005 Mercedes Benz until the city seized it in March. The reason: unpaid parking tickets.

Kayode, who now resides at a homeless shelter, says in his suit that the car was not only his home but also his means of income as a delivery driver. Civil rights attorney Jude Pond alleges that the California law that permits cities to impound cars with five or more parking tickets is unconstitutional…

It turns out that the lawsuit in question, Smith v Reiskin (SFMTA director Ed Reiskin is named as the principle defendant), actually predates Kayode’s woes.

James Smith, described by his attorney as a “64-year-old lifelong San Francisco resident whose only source of income is $1,140 in Social Security each month,” lost his car months earlier and was the first to seek succor from the courts… (more)

RELATED:
Smith v Reiskin

 

Is the Uber and Lyft Business Model in Jeopardy?

By Glenn Rogers : westsideobserver – excerpt

On April 30, 2018 the California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s judgment, changing existing law determining how an independent contractor can be identified. The case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, may completely redefine what is and what is not an independent contractor.

Dynamex, which is a same day pick-up and delivery company, treated all their workers as employees before 2004. However, as a cost saving measure, they changed the status of their workers to independent contractors after that date. In January 2005, Charles Lee — the sole named plaintiff in the original complaint entered into a written independent contractor agreement with Dynamex to provide delivery services. He filed this class action as the sole class representative challenging the legitimacy of Dynamex’s relationship with its independent contractor drivers… (more)

Now that Uber and Lyft have outcompeted taxis, their next goal is to outcompete with mass transit, which is suffering a diminished ridership from Uber and Lyft daily.”

 

There are so many articles on the Uber Lyfts that ignore the threats coming from so many more whose names may flash be in a brief moment as they glide past you in the havoc of traffic. Some will run on two wheels some of four and some may even try for three, but they all have one thing in common, their primary business plan is to take your slice of the traffic lane pie away. When you find yourself left with little wiggle room you may remember this warning. If you already feel cramped and in the mood too so something about it, your first move should be a call to your supervisor’s office to complain, or a trip down to City Hall to file an appeal under Ordinance 180089, or, a CEQA appeal, whichever fills your needs.

Why you want to stop the SFMTA from planting meters on your street

They set the terms and time limits once they are in. This is what they are doing on Townsend from 4th to 7th Street.

IMG_1469

Talk to your neighborhood group about how to protect your streets.

A San Francisco man was living in his car when it was towed. Now he’s suing the city

: kalw – excerpt (include audio tape)

Last December, James Smith’s car was towed as a consequence of unpaid parking violations. Smith was homeless, and the car was his only shelter. Now, Smith filing suit against San Francisco, arguing that towing for debt-collection is unconstitutional.

James Smith, a 64-year-old San Franciscan, used to volunteer for the Coalition on Homelessness. He would help families find places to stay for a night. Sometimes he’d even open up his own little apartment.

Smith never expected that one day, he’d be the one living on the streets.

“Never, ever,” says Smith. “I asked myself, ‘what did I do wrong?’”… (more)

Mountain View starts collecting waste from RV dwellers

by John Orr : mercurynews – excerpt

Complaints pouring in about sewage being dumped illegally on lawns, parks and storm drains.

The City of Mountain View in January began a pilot program to collect waste from recreational vehicles, in response to the increasing number of people who live in such vehicles in the city. The service is free, with vouchers distributed by the police department…

With more people living in recreational vehicles on Mountain View’s streets, the need for them to safely empty their wastewater tanks is becoming increasingly important…

In response to the growing problem, the City Council in March approved “the sanitary waste dump pilot RV waste disposal program,” said Kimberly S. Thomas of the city manager’s office. “The goal was to both offer waste disposal services to residents living in RVs, and test whether a permanent sanitary waste dump in Mountain View is viable.”

That program began in earnest on Jan. 16, when the first of two phases began in parking lot A/B at Shoreline Amphitheatre… (more)

RELATED:

“Parking Management and Vehicular Habitation” presentation at the February 6 Board meeting

Preview the SFMTA Oversize Vehicle SlideShow: Slide_presentation.pdf
Perhaps this is a good opportunity to consider a program for San Francisco like the one they are using in Mountain View to handle the problem if such a program does not yet exist.

 

The worst neighborhoods for parking in San Francisco

By Mike Moffitt : SFGATE – excerpt  (includes map)

SF collects millions in parking fines every year

In San Francisco, parking regulation enforcement helps ensure that spaces are turned over, bus zones are not blocked, street sweepers can do their job and residential spaces are reserved for residents.

But they also have another purpose — making millions for the city.

Recently we wrote about a new app that pinpointed the 10 most parking ticket-prone blocks in San Francisco.

Now we’re looking at which neighborhoods hand out the most parking citations — and reap the most money… (more)

RELATED:

S.F.’s Worst Block for Parking Pain

By Michael Cabanatnuam and Steve Rubentstien : sfchronicle – excerpt (linked file)

More than 4,000 tickets issued last year on street riddled with confusing signs, changing rules South of Market. (download pdf)

“Parking, which is horrible everywhere in SF and is especially horrible on the 300 Block Townsend” between Fourth and Fifth Streets. This block, located next to the train station, has many conflicting signs regarding traffic and parking instructions.

Thank you Spot Angle for gathering and sharing the data on parking and traffic tickets in SF, and thank you SF Gate and SF Chronicle for conducting further research and reporting on this most irksome issue that plague our citizens.

The public is confused and outraged over many issues on our streets and tickets are responsible for a lot of that anger . Many tickets are issued unfairly and can be contested successfully if you have the time to go to at least two or three hearings.

Muni riders are not immune from erroneous tickets. Many riders complain about tickets issued because of false readings on scanners. This is one more reason people are getting off the bus.

So, what is City Hall going to do about it? They are conducting hearings on a lot of complaints related to street projects. Add this one to the list  We suggest a citizens’ review of all future signs be added to the public outreach of street projects to assure the signs at least make sense and are understood by some humans who know the neighborhood. Tickets given out where signs and rules conflict, should be disregarded as incentive to the department to fix the problem.

Find out if San Francisco owes you $$ for overpaid parking tickets; deadline soon

By Amy Graff : SFGATE – excerpt

Those who are used to owing the City of San Francisco money for unpaid parking tickets will like this news: SFMTA is offering people the opportunity to claim cash for their overpaid parking tickets.

The Municipal Transportation Agency has $600,000 in unclaimed funds from a couple of hundred people and businesses who either overpaid or double-paid parking and transit citations issued between Jan. 1, 1995, and June 30, 2014.

The agency will reimburse individuals who file claims by Dec. 14, 2017. After the deadline, unclaimed funds will become property of the city… (more)

We know that ticket complaints are high on the list of our readers. Unfortunately, we can only point to general remedies as each case needs special investigations. Here is your chance to handle one of the many issues regarding parking tickets. One wonders how so many people were convinced to pay twice.

What kind of glitch caused this and has that glitch has been fixed? One also wonders if any interest on the will be returned, since the SFMTA charges us additional costs for late payments one hopes they will return interests on mistaken overcharges.

How are tourists and visitors going to be reimbursed? Can’t the SFMTA just return the balance on credit cards without claims? They know who overpaid.