St. Louis issued more than 300K parking tickets in 2017, some fo - KMOV.com

St. Louis issued more than 300K parking tickets in 2017, some for violations enforcers don't understand

Posted: Updated:
(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Residents of St. Louis have received a staggering amount of parking tickets, and in some cases, it’s due to a little-known parking violation ordinance even meter agents don’t understand.

In 2017, meter agents in St. Louis wrote 305,217 tickets; nearly one for every city resident.

Mike Macheca and his family joined the ranks of ticketed drivers after the 2018 St. Louis Women’s March.  

When the family returned to their car, the found a parking agent slapping a ticket on it.

“I said, ‘Hey, hey we put money in that meter we're not in violation,’ and she's like, ‘You're in violation you're parked too far from the curb.’"

The city says you can't be parked more than 12-inches from the curb, and if you are, you’re breaking the law.

Most residents wouldn’t know that, and the Machecas certainly didn’t.

“My wife, Elizabeth said, ‘There's no sign or anything specifying a 12 inch margin from the curb how are you supposed to know?’ This person said, ‘No there's no sign and you won't find it on the city website either,’ Macheca said.

Even with that description, law or no law, the family was sure they were not 12 inches off the curb.

“I said, ‘Excuse me but please get a ruler out and measure that,’ and she said, ‘No, no I don't have a ruler but you can contest it’ and she walked away.”    

That left the Macheca with a $25 ticket that grew to $50 when they didn't pay.

"I was livid,” Macheca said. “I was like, ‘This is a sham.’ This is the city resorting to chicanery in order to generate revenue.”

News 4 tried for months to get an on-camera interview from St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones who runs the parking division.

She refused, so News 4 talked to a ticket agent instead.

The agent, who will remain anonymous told News 4 producer the curb law is real but she couldn't really explain it.

She seemed even more confused when we asked how agents know if drivers are parked too far away.

“I don't know how they measure," she said.

Whether the violation is clear or not, a spokeswoman for the treasurer said it’s ultimately not a big deal.

They say for the last three full years, the department has written “only” 3,746 such tickets. But at $25 per ticket, that would generate more than $93,000.

However, while that’s no small sum, the department points out those tickets make up less than one half of one percent of all tickets written.

Which returns to the fact more than 300,000 parking tickets were written last year.

Compared to other cities in the region, that number is incredibly high.

In Kansas City the total number of tickets written last year was just under 18,000. In Nashville it was higher, nearly 50,000. In Indianapolis, it was 91,408.

St. Louis issued 17 times more tickets than Kansas City, six times more than Nashville and three times more than Indianapolis.

Each of those cities has a population larger than St. Louis.

“The city is up here,” said attorney Elkin Kisten, raising his hand to compare. “And other cities of comparable size are down here. Why that is, I don't know

Kisten is an attorney who has challenged the structure of the city's parking commission.

He says what the numbers show is troubling.

“I think this gross disparity between the city of St. Louis and other comparable municipalities in Midwest is really, really strange.”

Really profitable for the city as well.

At the lowest possible ticket fine, $15, those 305,000 citations could generate $4.5 million.

Though his ticket has since been dismissed, Mike Macheca said he's simply going to think twice about parking in the city:

“There's just no reason to subject yourself to this kind of chicanery,” he said.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Tishaura Jones said it is not fair to compare St. Louis to the other cities because St. Louis has thousands more meters on the street.

According to the Treasurer’s Office, St. Louis reduced the number of meters from 10,000 to 7,900. but Kansas City has only 1,500.

The Treasurer's Office says they can't speak for other cities, saying it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

They say they are committed to running an efficient operation and are always looking for ways to improve it.

Powered by Frankly