Drivers Report Problems, Unwarranted Tickets with City’s Mobile Parking App

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento city council member representing the downtown area says he will ask for an audit of the city's mobile parking app at Tuesday's city council meeting.

The app was supposed to make things easier for drivers visiting the downtown area who are facing new parking restrictions. Instead, Councilman Steven Hansen says the app is making things harder for some visitors.

Feeding the parking meter with coins is old school.

With the city’s smart meters, credit or debit cards make it more convenient.

The Parkmobile parking app goes a step farther, allowing you to extend your time through your phone, no more mad dashes to your parked car whether it’s at a meter or in a city parking garage or lot.

The app maps out every public parking spot in the city that requires a payment.

The problem is that some parkers say they are getting ticketed when using the app.

“Getting a parking ticket is one of the things we hate the most as a people, especially if you’ve paid the meter and you shouldn’t have gotten it, it’s 10 time worse," Hansen said.

Because he represents the downtown and midtown area, Hansen and his staff gets the brunt of complaints.

The city parking division acknowledged that during a two-week period in October, due to a wireless connectivity glitch, payments on the app were not recorded and over 300 tickets were issued in error.

Parking officials were not available for interview but a statement was released saying:

“The service disruption that occurred was the first of its kind and was an anomaly in that it affected a small percentage of Parkmobile customers ... citations issued during those dates and those citations related to this particular connectivity issue will be dismissed.”

The city said 8,400 transactions were made by the app during the two weeks and just 4 percent were in error.

But a Sacramento Business Journal report showed that for months more Parkmobile tickets were dismissed than were actually paid, leading Hansen to think there is something wrong with the system.

“There’s this old mantra 'where there’s smoke there’s fire' and I’ve just been very troubled by what I have been told before and then seeing what the Business Journal uncovered…and so we’re just trying to get to the bottom of it," Hansen said.

The crisis in confidence between the city parking division says Hansen requires a third-party look at what may or may not be a problem -- thus the request for the city auditor to take a hard look at the parking app.