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: