Drivers in San Jose upset over parking tickets issued after they paid

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- It turns out San Jose's smart parking meters aren't so smart after all. There's a glitch and it's causing them to re-set, even after you've swiped your card or dropped in some change. ABC7 News took a closer look into how often this problem is happening.

The city says it happens about 30 times a month, but ABC7 News spoke with one attorney who got three tickets in a row. And he says every attorney he knows has gotten a ticket each, even though they all had plenty of money in the meter.

A beep usually means you'll be safe from getting a parking ticket for a period of time. However, that wasn't the case for Saratoga resident Todd Rothbard who got three parking tickets all on St. James Street.

"If this had been one, I probably would have just paid it because of the aggravation, but two days in a row when on each occasion I knew it was paid, is ridiculous!" Rothbard said.

Dozens of drivers have the same complaint. The city now admits there's a glitch in its smart meter sensor system. In San Jose, when a driver leaves a smart parking spot, a sensor resets the meter even if there's time left. The next driver then has to pay separately.

ABC7 News witnessed there was 30 minutes left on a meter, but then it quickly dropped down to zero.

The problem is when a truck or bus rolls by, the sensor mistakenly tells the meter to reset, because it thinks the spot has opened up. Of the 1,200 smart meters downtown, the city has turned the sensors off in about 20.

"It is frustrating and we don't like citations to be issued inappropriately. That's why we absolutely dismiss them when brought to our attention," Laura Wells from the San Jose Director of Transportation said.

But dismissing them means the driver has to flag the problem, contest it, and then wait for the city to double check the meter readings. Many drivers don't trust the city or the system anymore.

"The amount of time that we spend trying to correct this... not good," San Jose resident Gail Alonso said.

"It isn't working out. They should quit using the sensors under the cars," San Jose resident Barry Weingarten said.

The city makes $10 million a year from parking fines, so it hopes to resolve the problem quickly.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.