If you’re driving in San Francisco be aware that the city issues some two million parking tickets a year, contributing something like $85 million to the municipal coffers.
When I was editor-in-chief of Mercury House in its Sansome Street location I had on my wall a prayer to Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron saint of parking spaces. (Others have been nominated for this honor, including Saint Jude, Saint Antoine, Saint Therese, and, of course, Saint Rita, but since Mother Cabrini lived out her days in New York City I think she is probably best qualified).
Traffic is the curse of the Bay Area, since the peninsula on which the city sits is small in size and most of the region’s traffic must be funneled over a handful of lanes on a few bridges. (Why will the new Bay Bridge have no more lanes than the old one?)
But parking is nearly as bad a problem. As a result, many people have given up attempting compliance and instead simply rack up hundred of dollars in parking tickets, which they put off paying as long as possible. But now the city is fighting back with cameras, mounted atop unmarked cars, that scan license plates — at a rate of about 250 plates per hour — to find vehicles that have accrued five or more tickets. Once the offending vehicles are located they are quickly fitted with boots that render them undrivable.