Daily Life

Parking Alert – Beware of Parking in Downtown Walnut Creek


Having parked in downtown Walnut Creek for many years without getting a ticket or citation, it was finally my turn to get burned last year. At the Broadway Pointe parking garage, a free, private garage in downtown Walnut Creek managed by Park Smart / Regional Parking, there are two types of signs indicating how long one may park. One is the typical 3-Hour Limit sign. The other is a “3 hour Parking Maximum” sign. Whenever I looked at this sign I wondered what the point was. After all, if the standard 3-hour limit sign is there, then obviously the maximum is three hours, right?

One day last year, I parked in the morning to work out at Orangetheory on Locust St. and get a bowl of miso ramen at Ramen Hiroshi. In the evening, I headed back to downtown Walnut Creek for a rare night out with my wife and ended up having a great meal at Va de Vi. Unfortunately for me, I decided to park at the Broadway Pointe parking garage.  As we returned to the car that evening, I saw the dreaded parking citation. I wrote back to Park Smart / Regional Parking pointing out that these were completely separate trips with several hours in-between when I was not there. The parking spots were also different. A few weeks later I heard back about the denial:

The License Plate Recognition Vehicle scanned your vehicle on two separate visits; the daily maximum of 3 hours was exceeded: no receipts from Braodwav Pointe merchants were provided for “consideration.”

They also included a picture of my car in the morning parking spot and the evening park spot. The final step to appeal for a waiver is by writing back to a third party examiner (along with a $30 check). I explained that the 3 hour parking maximum is confusing as it doesn’t indicate a daily maximum. Therefore, since they were obviously separate visits, I requested a waiver. In return I received this reply from the examiner:

Invoice upheld! Subject cited for parking over the three hour parking limit. Area in question is clearly signed as to said parking restriction. Evidence provided by subject does not support dismissal.

So there you have it. My $30 check to Regional Parking was cashed and that was that. Ultimately I understand this was my own fault. However, as someone who generally follows rules quite carefully, I’ve pondered a bit about this situation:

  1. These 3 hour parking signs are everywhere. I wouldn’t think twice about parking in the Target or Safeway parking lot a couple of times per day.
  2. The additional “3 hour maximum” signage without indicating  a “daily” maximum overrode the other signage in my mind in such a way that I felt that completely separate trips would count separately.
  3. New technology like license plate readers allows companies like Park Smart / Regional Parking to enforce parking regulations rigorously.

With this change in enforcement we must take particular care if a car is shared among family members. What happens if one family member decides to park in a parking garage in the morning, and another family member parks in the same garage in the evening? Does there need to be a standard warning, “honey, remember not to park at such-and-such garage if you go there later”. What happens if you park for an hour in the morning when the license plate get scanned and park in the evening and it gets scanned again? I could see that triggering a parking citation which is a hassle to contest.

Apparently a one time waiver is available for situations like this. However, considering I requested twice, in writing, that it be waived I wonder what you need to do to get one? More interestingly, why would this be offered anyway? Instead, how about putting up signs stating the daily limit to help shoppers understand? How about introducing reasonable re-parking rules like Civic Park or cities such as Davis have? What is the aim of these private garages? To encourage people to shop and dine in downtown or to maximize parking citation revenue? I wonder…

Has anyone else encountered issues with parking citations in downtown Walnut Creek?

For a reasonable approach to encourage multiple shopping visits to a downtown, check out this explanation from Davis Downtown:

Re-Parking Restrictions

Commonly known as the “Block Face Re-Parking” ordinance, this 2006 Davis City Council action serves to restrict re-parking on Downtown streets in the same block, including city parking lots. After two hours in a parking space, a vehicle must be moved away entirely from the block (or lot) in which it was parked, not just to another space on the same block. The re-parking restriction includes both sides of any block between two intersections.

The vehicle may not be parked again on that block until four hours have passed since the vehicle first was parked on the block.

Helpful signage at Civic Park:

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  • Gauntlet23

    Why would they let you disrupt a major revenue source?

  • Carla

    Dear Walnut Creek, I try at all lengths to do my shopping and dining anywhere but in your city because the parking is so annoying. The experience this person had just reinforces that. I bet if they took you to small claims court, they would win. Fix your signs so they aren’t deceptive and people know what they are signing up for. Sorry WC- taking my business to Danville, Pleasanton and Concord. Hope your parking tickets were worth it for you.

  • Old curmudgeon

    Greed is their creed. I use the city garages and avoid these private parking lots as much as I can. City meters are just as greedy and where this private parking company puts up its own meters it is complete extortion for a city designed to accommodate only the automobile.

    • Elizabeth Mackey

      I got a ticket once back in 2013. Never paid it, haven’t heard from them hahaha. If it was the city, I would have paid. These guys are the parking mafia!

      • Old curmudgeon

        I got a ticket in 2010, didn’t pay it. Parked in lot front of Ross in 2013 and they towed me. Cost about $350 to get car back.

  • curmudgeonII

    I would let the merchants of Broadway Pointe know of your unfortunate experience. Tell them it’s going out on social media and may affect them. If they complain to property management perhaps this can be modified or restated to be clearer. Many times I parked at Barnes & Noble but never shopped there.
    Also, it appears this is a private parking company. I have never paid those tickets. They are not “legal” tickets. Not enforced by the city.
    Danville & Lafayette have parking. Let’s all shop there.

  • lulucaliente

    The best remedy is to stop going to Walnut Creek, period. Who needs this kind of treatment.

    • Angela S.

      Totally agree. I now avoid shopping in downtown Walnut Creek as much as possible.

  • Nick

    I don’t know how much time you have on your hands, but if you take them to small claims court, you’d probably stand a good chance of winning (and if they’re not in the area, you’ll probably get a summary judgement for them no-showing). If you paid by a card, bring in your statements (or receitps if you have them). I also agree that you should notify the businesses in the shopping center of your experience and ask them to complain to their property management company.

  • kj

    This is probably to deter people (mostly employees of nearby stores/restaurants/offices) from taking up all of the spots for their entire work day. Employees could pop over and move their car to another spot/or switch with a co-worker, etc. after 3 hours, using the lot for a whole day, leaving drastically fewer spots for people wanting to shop, eat and go to the park.

    • Employee of the Month

      It’s not the employees that work within Broaday Plaza. At least not those of Macy’s. They have an entire level of the garage designated just for them and each car is monitored very carefully. In fact, if an employee’s vehicle is found parked outside of the employee parking lot, it will be issued a fine ( no less than $45 for the first violation) which must be paid within 21 days (increases to $146 on the 22nd day) to The City of Walnut Creek. And payment must be made before you can dispute it. $45 may not sound like much to those that can afford to shop in Walnut Creek, but for those that have to work there earning minimum wage ($10/hr) it’s a (not so) small fortune! More than half of their earnings for “their entire work day”. It only takes an employee one time to try and get a closer spot before they learn that it’s not worth it.

  • M

    They are also violating ADA rules by not having handicap accessible meters and ticketing handicap cars who do not pay. The city of Walnut Creek like most cities do not charge the handicap to park because of meter accessibility. I never pay those parking garage tickets. It’s only a matter of time till they are sued. Someone needs to call Stanley Roberts!

  • Elle

    You actually don’t have to pay tickets issued by private lots. Seriously. I never paid the two I received in Walnut Creek (over 13 years; I’m not trying to do this). Google around. They don’t have the authority to ticket you, only tow you.

  • Barbosa

    As others have pointed out, their “tickets” are not issued by official authorities and they cannot collect on them without going though civil court. They do not show up on DMV’s system and do not affect your ability to renew your license or registration. It is possible they could report it to a credit agency. I have heard of an instance where a private parking company did take someone to small claims court and received a judgement in their favor. I’m guessing it’s more trouble than it’s worth for them unless they dealing with a repeat offender.

    Funny thing is…the parking company should have just forgiven the “ticket”, but instead it got publicized in this blog and now many more people know they can use their lots and garages with impunity.

  • Concerned

    You should take this to the Transportation Commission and explain it to them for resolution.

  • s

    Take this up to “7 on your side”

  • Seriously

    No shiate… and not ONE Walnut Creek CITIZEN wants the plate scanners. They’ve been around for a while now… These ‘infractions’ are done by a private for profit company that can actually take your license away. All 100% illegal as there is NO DUE PROCESS. Their ‘misunderstanding’ cost me 1/2 the price of the ticket. That was their ‘bargain’. Pay it or lose my car…

    On a different occasion I got a ticket because my SUV is only 6′ tall and not 6.5′ tall. They don’t include the roof rack or things mounted! They apparently walk around with a stick. Yet I also get busted for parking in a ‘compact’ spot. Yet my car’s demensions are very close to a Honda CIVIC… just not height…

    City governments have become nothing but collusive dictatorships these days… all about ‘revenue’ and how to get it from those they serve…

    CITIZENS Haven’t we had enough of the government PRIVILEGE CLASS??!!!