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POINT OF VIEW TheyGotMe, Twice… BY JOHN VAN HORN A


S YOU MAY KNOW, I’VE BEEN running an experiment. I have been either not paying my on-street parking or overstaying when I have been pay- ing. The experiment is to prove that


less than 10%of parking violations are ever ticketed. I will admit I have had a fewclose calls, one being a few weeks ago when I pulled out of an expired meter just as the officer rounded the corner, ink dripping out of his printer.


However, it all caught up with me a few days ago. The city


of Beverly Hills (where, by the way, I was interviewing their parking folks for an article on page 14 in this issue of PT) cited me for overstaying a meter. I did, in fact, put money in it but stayed about sevenminutes past the due time.The ticketwaswrit- ten threeminutes after it clicked to “Validation.” A few hours later, R and I went to see “Sherlock Holmes”


in downtown Culver City, CA. I parked in a slot in the garage that said “one hour only.” The words “I’m sure they don’t check” were ringing in my ears.When we returned three hours later, with a validated ticket I pulled on entrance, therewas a citation onmy car. Yes, they got me. Culver City does a good job “chalking”. Good for them.And good for BeverlyHills, too. Itmay have taken a while for them to get me, but they did. I have paid both $50 fines


lazy tells the tale. My guess is that Beverly Hills has


had its last chance at me. The $50 fine most likely has me moving into the lot or filling the meter with enough quarters (or in this case, using my credit card) to cover the 75 minutes I’m away.As for Culver City – the fine folks at IPD designed wonderful parking garages half a block from the restaurants and theaters and certainly I can make it up one flight of stairs ... and I will.


*** Yes, they gotme again, and this time itwas for jury duty. It’s


over; the verdict is in.Yes, hewas guilty. It took us about two days to get to the bottom of it. The problem is it seems to me that we are so used to “LawandOrder,” “CSI,” “LALaw” (if you are that old), and the like that when reality strikes, we get all perturbed. The jury spent a lot of time complaining about how little


Contrary to a commonly held perception among traders, shoppers were not highly dissatisfied with the quality of parking in the town centre.


but still feel good about the experiment. In Beverly Hills, I park on the street where I got the ticket


twice aweek and have done so for the past year (gym).This is the first citation I have received, even though there hasn’t been a time that I wasn’t in some type of violation when I returned tomy car. As for my former home, Culver City, I’m not quite so bad.


I park there about three times a month, and when I’m in the garage it’s usually after 6 p.m. (no time limit then). However, I have parked on-street probably a dozen times in the last year, and in virtually every case, the meter was in violation when I returned to the car. I would suggest that this still falls well within my 10%rule. I understand that enforcement isn’t easy. Huge turnover,


thick traffic, the vagaries of the law (is there a handicapped plac- ard or not?) and, frankly, often the kindness of the enforcement staff. However, if we are ever to get parking under control, we have to figure out how to deal with scofflaws likeme. In BeverlyHills,my gymhas a dealwith a parking lot that is


in fact closer to their door than where I usually park on-street, and the cost is less than that of an hour’s on-street parking. I’m just too lazy to use it. In Culver City, all I had to do was drive up one story and I would have had unlimited parking. Once again,


6 FEBRUARY 2010 • PARKING TODAY • www.parkingtoday.com


informationwe had, andwhat a poor job the police, crime lab and prosecutors did.After all, we had no fingerprints, no DNA, no expert witnesses, no trace evidence.All we had was a 911 tape, and conflicting testimony from the victim, his brother, his sister in law, his cousin, his neigh- bor, and the defendant. The arresting officer


added little to the mix, nor did the defense’s private detective. It was up to us jurors to take all that and determine, with very little to go on, just who was lying. And we did. We decided that there


were “elements” of truth in all the stories, but also a lot of story-telling going on, on all


sides.However,what fewactual factswe had (a bullet hole in the ceiling, for instance) told us that obviously something did hap- pen.We just had to use common sense, and the requirements of the law.We must have read and reread the judge’s instructions a dozen times. In the end, of the seven counts, we found not guilty on two


(themost serious) and guilty on five.The defendantwill do some time, we were told, and rightly so. We jurors met with the prosecutor and the defense attorney


after the verdict was read. They were open and happy to talk about all the things we couldn’t know during the trial. Both agreed with the verdict. The defense attorney was realistic. “My client was stupid.


He tried to represent himself for the first eightmonths of pre-tri- al; then the judge convinced him and I got the case about six weeks ago. It was obvious the first three stories told to the police were not true. I convinced himto tell the truth.Had he done so in the beginning, my guess is that the police and prosecutors would have agreed on amuch lesser charge.As it stands, he talked him- self into prison. Stupid. People who represent themselves have idiots as clients.”


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