Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Office of the Sheriff



September 8, 2003


October 7, 2003



Honorable Board of Supervisors



Sheriff Don Horsley
(Via: Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson)



Amendments to the San Mateo County Ordinance Code to Revise Parking Violation Penalties and to Clarify Other Parking-Related Text in the Ordinance Code.



Approve amendments to the San Mateo County Ordinance Code to revise penalties for parking violations and to clarify other parking-related text in the Ordinance Code.



The County Ordinance Code and certain sections of the California Vehicle Code contain provisions governing the parking of vehicles in the unincorporated parts of the County, as well as the penalties for violations of these provisions. The California Vehicle Code states that the governing body of a jurisdiction in which notices of parking violations are issued is empowered to adopt a schedule of penalties for parking violations and for late payments. The law also provides that, to the extent possible, such penalties should be standardized across jurisdictions.



It has been many years since the County last set penalties for parking violations, and currently such penalties within the County are often lower than penalties for the same or similar violations occurring in other jurisdictions within the County, in some cases by a substantial amount. Administrative responsibility for parking fine management was transferred from the Courts to police agencies and the Sheriff about three years ago, and it is time to review existing parking fine levels. Pursuant to the California Vehicle Code, it is appropriate to adjust the penalties for violations of the Ordinance Code's parking provisions to better track those in other jurisdictions.

In addition, at the behest of Supervisor Gibson, the San Mateo County Sheriff and Department of Public Works have been working with residents in the North Fair Oaks area, to address concerns over parking in that community. Vehicles in sections of North Fair Oaks, as well as in some other unincorporated areas on the coastside, are frequently left parked in limited time and limited hours parking areas, notwithstanding clearly posted signs advising of the parking restrictions. The Department of Public Works and the Sheriff believe that a primary reason for this is that penalties for parking violations are too low to serve as an effective deterrent. This has directly impacted on the quality of life for some County residents by, for example, preventing street cleaning crews from fully performing their work due to vehicles being parked on the street on street sweeping days.

The Sheriff, the Department of Public Works, the County Counsel, and Supervisor Gibson's staff have coordinated to review existing parking violation penalties and to compare these penalties to those in other jurisdictions within the County. They have also looked at particular parking-related issues, such as those described for the North Fair Oaks area, and the role that parking violation penalties could have on their resolution. Based on this review, it is recommended that parking violation penalties be revised to the level set forth in the attached Ordinance.

In addition, the Sheriff and the Department of Public Works recommend that other amendments included in the attached Ordinance be made to update and clarify the Ordinance Code by, for example, removing sunset provisions for certain parking-related provisions.

The County Counsel's Office has reviewed the proposed changes to the Ordinance Code, and has approved them as to form.


Vision Alignment

The adoption of this proposal will support the commitment of providing responsive, effective and collaborative government. Similarly, the adoption of this proposal will further the goal of county and local governments effectively communicating, collaborating, and developing strategic approaches to issues affecting the entire County.


Fiscal Impact

The adjustment and standardization of parking penalties may result in a moderate increase to County parking fine revenues, although a specific dollar amount is difficult to quantify, since many factors besides just the penalty schedule influence the enforcement and collection of parking fines. There are other indirect but important fiscal benefits that will be realized as well, such as improved efficiency and productivity for Public Works street cleaning crews.

cc: Neil Cullen, Director of Public Works