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We've all seen the street cleaning signs Downtown. No Parking on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, take your pick, from 8 a.m. to noon, usually. We've struggled trying to remember which side is which when we've come home late at night, and then tried to find a spot on the correct side. Is it all really necessary?
I've had occasion to be home on a number of street cleaning days for my street. The funny thing is, I haven't seen street cleaners--ever! I don't see the evidence that they've even been there. What I do see are tickets. Evidence that the meter maid has come by to ticket you for parking someplace. Someplace where they need to clean, but won't.
For transparency's sake, during a recent event, I received a ticket on my car. I normally would have no problem moving my car, however this morning it wouldn't start. I had even set my alarm for 7:30 a.m., just to be sure I would move it in time, even though I don't have to be at work until 9 a.m.
Upon realizing that it wouldn't start, I called a tow company and proceeded to leave a note, "Car won't start, can't move. Will be towed shortly." I came out to the sounds of the tow truck at 8:30 and what did I see? A nice, fresh, yellow ticket staring at me.
Having just been written at 8:11, I furtively glanced around for the officer who was well on his or her way, I'm sure. So, to add insult to the injury of a broken down car and a tow fee, I now had a nice $49 ticket to keep them company in my bank account.
But what was the ticket for? Parking in an area marked for no parking during certain hours. For street cleaning. Upon coming home at lunch I looked at the streets; no cleaning had been done. So I became curious just how often does this "cleaning" that I had impeded, and been ticketed for, take place.
The street signs tell me once a week on each side, Wednesdays and Thursdays. My mind, knowing the state of the economy, the state of city budgets, and the condition of my street, thought otherwise.
An e-mail back from the City of Sacramento seems to suggest that it happens on the fourth week of every month. However, a follow-up e-mail clarifies that no, it is once every two months.
So, then why am I and hundreds, if not thousands of others, getting tickets on days where the street doesn't need to be vacated? It seems rather disingenuous to ticket so many people under the guise of "street cleaning."
Why not just say "No parking: 'cause we feel like it," or something more City of Sacramento-like? I'm sure this fills the coffers of the city and ensures services are paid for. But wouldn't reassigning the meter maids that work those areas have the same effect? Cutting off a large portion of the Downtown area has got to save on labor costs somewhere.
For those that are interested, the weeks the City chooses to clean Downtown streets are the fourth weeks of January, March, May, July, September, and November. As always, check with the City to be sure that that is the case for your particular area, if you're unsure, at email@example.com.