SF parking violator sues city

June 2, 2008 7:52:22 PM PDT
Most people don't know it, but in San Francisco, you can actually work off your parking tickets with community service. But now, one of those parking violators is suing the city, saying it's violating its own minimum wage law by essentially paying him and others like him below San Francisco's minimum wage.

"There just simply aren't enough places to park this car right now," says Alan White.

Allen White got $1,840 in parking tickets during a two year period ending in May of last year. That's when he was admitted to a pre-trial diversion program called Project 20, where you can work off your parking tickets through community service.

But, when he found out he would work at a rate of $6 an hour, he refused. He sued the city, saying $6 is below the city's minimum wage.

For most San Francisco workers, it's $9.36, but if you work for a business that contracts with the city, minimum wage is $11.03 an hour.

Since Project 20 is a city contractor, White says he and others in the program should be making that rate, which is almost double what they're getting now.

For every hour you work you're going to lose about half the money that you should have gotten just by paying the right wage.

His Lawyer Brian Brazier says the city has been violating its own law.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the city, through Project 20, was in fact the highest violator of the minimum wage law in San Francisco," says Brazier.

The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency oversees Project 20. Its officials argue that the $6 is a credit, not a wage.

"Project 20 is fundamentally designed as a way to work off their tickets through a reimbursement process. It is in no way a wage," says Judson True of SFMTA.

Several city supervisors we spoke with, including Bevan Dufty, agree with White.

"I think Alan makes a great argument. They're being paid at a very substandard rate so I think its a legitimate issue and I really think we ought to clear it up," says Dufty.

Dufty and at least one other supervisor are considering legislation to increase the hourly rate. The city attorney declined comment, saying he had not seen the suit.


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