Scofflaws owe San Francisco $38M in unpaid parking tickets

Old parking tickets die hard in San Francisco.

In the more than 3½ years between October 2006 and April 2010, ticket scofflaws have amassed a whopping $38,387,155 in unpaid parking citations issued in The City, according to data provided by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The total includes late fees and, for further refusal to pay, delinquency fines.

Click on the photo at right to see a year-over-year breakdown of unpaid parking tickets.

That’s 678,121 unpaid parking tickets. The good news for cash-strapped Muni is that another 5,956,560 tickets totaling $374,191,769 have been paid in that period, for a nearly 90 percent collection rate, one of the highest rates in the country among major cities, according to the agency.

“It is unrealistic to expect that the agency would collect on 100 percent of citations,” SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said.

Still, $38 million could plug several holes the agency is facing. Its estimated budget deficit for the current fiscal year is $28 million, and $80 million total over the next two fiscal years.

Under the City Charter, parking citation revenue is to be used to help fund Muni’s operating budget.

“Of course those funds would certainly be helpful,” Rose said.

Muni has already had to cut service and raise fares in recent years. Rose said that has been discussed again recently, but added that there are “no immediate plans” to further target those areas.

San Francisco parking tickets issued after April 2010 are considered still in “active collection” and those numbers weren’t immediately available, according to Rose.

“We have a number of measures in place to continue our efforts to collect,” Rose said.

The collections program for unpaid parking tickets includes holds on DMV registration and residential parking permits, vehicle boots, collections notices, and a program to intercept state taxes and lottery winnings, Rose said.

“Knowing MTA, I know that they are very efficient when it comes to parking tickets,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “Sometimes too efficient, when it comes to some of my constituents. I think they’re doing a pretty good job, from what I can tell.”

A six-month statewide amnesty program announced this year for unpaid traffic tickets — which will offer discounts for those who fess up in certain cases beginning in January — does not include unpaid parking tickets.

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