Parking Rage

Pasta-damn! I thought it was bad here in the Big Spud, but San Franciscans attack meter maids “in protest over lack of parking spots”. What do meter maids have to do with parking availability anyway?

San Fran Legs

San Franciscans Hurl Their Rage at Parking Patrol ...Burdened with one of the densest downtowns in the country and a Californian love for moving vehicles, San Franciscans have been shocked in recent months by crimes related to finding places to park, including an attack in September in which a young man was killed trying to defend a spot he had found.

More recently, the victims have been parking control officers — do not call them meter maids — who suffered four attacks in late November, and two officers went to a hospital.

Over all, 2006 was a dangerous year for those hardy souls handing out tickets here, with 28 attacks, up from 17 in 2005.

All of which has left officials in this otherwise civilized community scrambling to explain, and solve, “parking rage.”

“It’s hard for me to understand people reacting in such a hostile manner,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., executive director of the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees parking. “Clearly, this is a working person simply doing their job. I’ve gotten parking tickets, and I sort of slap myself on the wrist and pay the ticket.”

People in the field say abuse is common, often frightening and, occasionally, humiliating. In November, an officer was spat on, another was punched through the window of his Geo Metro, and an irate illegal parker smashed the windshield of another officer’s golf-cart-like vehicle.

“Just driving down the street, you get yelled at,” said Lawanna Preston, staff director for Local 790 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents parking control officers.

The officers are city employees but not in the Police Department.

“They can’t even eat lunch with that uniform on, because people approach them and curse at them,” Ms. Preston said.
That frustration extends all the way to people like George Anderson, president of the American Association of Anger Management Providers, a mental health group, who said the parking problems here were so notorious that he had stopped holding paid lectures here.

“They’d be angry when they walked in,” said Mr. Anderson, a clinical social worker who lives in Los Angeles. “I’d spend half my time defending why I couldn’t include parking in the fee.”

Mr. Anderson said that his anger management patients regularly complained about the road and that not finding parking could be the last straw.

“If you’re driving on a highway,” he said, “you’re already stressed to the max. So that by the time you get to the parking stall, you end up with an inappropriate expression of anger.”


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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 6, 2007 10:47 AM.

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