On the morning of Friday, Dec. 13, a Napa County foster parent volunteer was out gathering gifts that had been collected by many generous businesses for foster families.
About 9:30 a.m. and after circling the blocks of First Street, Franklin Street, Second Street and School Street several times looking for a place to park, this volunteer chose to stop in the Loading Zone on the west side of Franklin.
The volunteer displayed a handicap placard and left a handwritten note on the dash saying she was loading gifts from Santa.
It took the volunteer about 15 minutes to park the car, retrieve the gifts and leave. But not without first getting an $88 parking ticket for parking in the Loading Zone.
The sign at the curb states Loading Zone but does not define what constitutes loading. Simply using the spot for loading doesn't count.
A couple weeks later, I went with the volunteer and parked in the Loading Zone, but this time to unload some flowers and thank you cards for the business 1455 First St. No ticket this time.
The ticket gave no information about contacting anyone in Napa, nor how to appeal the ticket.
I wrote a check to City of Napa for the full $88 and mailed it to someplace in Southern California, along with a letter asking that the ticket be voided.
I would have chosen to appear in court to argue the matter, but that was not an option shown on the ticket. The fine folks at the city of Napa in Southern California processed the check (it has cleared the bank) and went their merry way without an acknowledgement that I sent a letter stapled to the check.
This is frustrating. Just think of how it may have been if a tourist had committed this horrible deed. If that had happened, Loading Zones would have gone the way of red-light cameras.
Editor's note: The Register asked the city about the issue raised by the author and spokesperson Jaina French sent the following response: "We are sad to hear the loading situation created such a negative experience out of what was such a kind gesture from the citizen.
"As a matter of procedure, the citation appeal process details can be found in the back of parking citations. Within 21 days of receiving the citation, the registered owner or lessee can appeal the citation online.
"Our Parking Ambassadors have an important and difficult job to do. They also come across several unique parking situations on any given day and don’t always have the opportunity of finding the vehicle owner prior to issuing a citation. When it comes to loading zones, our Parking Ambassadors don’t always find the vehicle owners actively loading in loading zones. If the registered owner is not actively loading near the vehicle and the vehicle is turned off in the parked position, the Parking Ambassador will circle back to the vehicle minutes later to see if the parked vehicle has moved. If not, it tends to lead to a citation.
"For anyone looking to avoid citations in the Loading Zone, we recommend either loading directly adjacent to the place of business you will be loading with a direct line of sight to your vehicle. We also recommend parking in a parking lot rather than a loading zone if space permits. This will either help the Parking Ambassador find the registered owner or simply give the register owner ample time to load if parking is available. Additionally, it is important to be mindful of loading zones specific to commercial vehicles only."