City: Take your ticket and go

Nancy Amaya has written countless tickets for San Francisco’s parking scofflaws and says she could never shake the dread that washed over her when confronted by an angry motorist.

“It always makes the hair on your neck stand up,” she said. “It’s constant abuse and berating.

Today, all parking fines under $100 in San Francisco will rise by $10. And when ticket prices jump, assaults on parking enforcement officers typically do as well, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority chief Nathaniel Ford said Thursday.

“There may be some angst on the part of our customers,” Ford said. “We want them to know it does no good to confront the parking control officers.”

Thursday, the transit agency unveiled a public awareness campaign that urges motorists to see the officers as ordinary people simply doing difficult jobs and to protest their tickets the appropriate way — in writing at the SFMTA office. Public service announcements will be displayed on Muni buses and bus shelters, and all parking officers will receive conflict management training, Ford said.

Assaults on officers decreased by half in 2007, down to 16 from a high of 28 in 2006, according to SFMTA. Three have been assaulted so far this year.

Past assaults have ranged from a motorist breaking an officer’s arm to throwing a ticket back into an officer’s face, Ford said.

Last year, fines for assaulting public safety officers doubled to $2,000, thanks to Assembly Bill 1686, authored by Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

SFMTA officials are continuing to work with Leno to enact additional penalties, including the suspension of driver’s licenses, Ford said.

Paul Henderson, deputy head of administration in the District Attorney’s Office, said penalties can range from probation to more than a year in jail.

“It’s not justifiable rage. That’s not a defense,” Henderson said. “We do file these cases. We do take them seriously.”

The SFMTA approved the increase in citation fines in April as a measure to balance its budget. Fees for SFMTA services such as neighborhood parking permits, curb painting and parking-clamp removal will also increase.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocalParkingSFMTA

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