Oh, yes, you did park there

Mini in the sketchy spot.jpg

The driveway is so far behind the car, it's not in the picture.

A few weeks ago, on a cold, rainy night, the AOA-mobile was parked in what has come to be known around the downtown office as "the sketchy spot": two feet away from a driveway (OK), but in front of a sign that says "No Parking, Driveway" (not OK). The sign has an arrow pointing to the aforementioned driveway (that is, we remind you, two feet away).

Parking there is kind of ticket Russian roulette -- usually you won't get tagged, but do you really want to take that chance? Still, you're not causing a hazard or problem for anyone, or being a jerk to your neighbors. Let's just say that on this particular cold and rainy night, it was worth the gamble.

And this time we lost. And we paid the ticket. But we decided to go to the Parking Violations Bureau to inquire about the sign and try to clear up the sketchiness surrounding the sketchy space.

And we learned something we though you might want to know. Albany parking tickets now come with photographic proof.

When we showed the clerk our parking ticket and explained the situation, she entered the number into her computer and seconds later she'd printed three photos. The photos were fuzzy but it was definitely our car next to the sign.

The devices the Traffic Safety Patrol use for writing tickets are now equipped with cameras. It got the new devices last year.

In this case, the photographic evidence may be good for us, since it proves we were, in fact, nowhere near a driveway. The parking violations folks said it may be a case where the sign is in the wrong place. In most cases, though, the photos are used to prove a driver did park in a place where they shouldn't have.

The clerk was reluctant to give us the photos. But the next day we went back and Jim Van Apeldorn, the manager of the Parking Violations Bureau, was at the desk and happily handed them over. He says as long as it's for your own vehicle, they'll give you the photos.

Van Apeldorn says they've been using the cameras for about a year now. Only the traffic safety department uses them, not the police. And while they don't take pictures of every violation, they take them for most.

He says his office has to pull out the photos three or four times a day to prove to people that they did, in fact, park where they say they didn't. Van Apeldorn thinks it's too early to tell how much revenue the cameras have brought the city, but he says they've helped out in his office quite a bit. "I love the look on people's faces when they come in and say 'Oh, no, I wasn't parked there,' and then you show them the photo. When people see the proof they tend to calm down a bit, even apologize sometimes, and they're less likely to want to take the ticket to court because there's proof."

This was the first case he could recall where someone was using the photos to point out that a space may be marked incorrectly.

So, yeah, think twice before you park next to that sign. Unless it's a sketchy spot. We'll let you know how that turns out.


For what a parking ticket costs in Albany, you should get a sculpture of your vehicle.

Nice! way to fight city hall!

as someone who got a ticket for parking in front of an OLD curb cut (the "driveway" led to their yard--which was fenced) 100 years ago before they had picture proof, I'll be curious to see what happens. there seems to be no question that you are in a "safe" zone...

Thanks, I was wondering if this was happening in Albany too. Somebody who shall remain anonymous parked in front of a fire hydrant in Troy last winter and as she started arguing that the hydrant was invisible, buried under the snow, the clerk proudly presented photographic evidence that said hydrant was, indeed, completely out of the snow. Hilarity did not ensue.

This is really good to know, as a resident of center square, where the battle over parking is neverending...

Ha, thanks fellow Spring Street denizen. I know we all park there with extreme apprehension. We'll be interested to see how that all ends up working out - we try not to park there, but it would be nice to know that there is another space on our street (our car is about the same size as the AOA-mobile)

Very sneaky, Parking Violations Bureau. But I can totally picture being one of the people that goes in to argue a ticket, only to be presented with photographic evidence that I am totally at fault.

We've parked there is the past, and once, we got a ticket. We contested it and had the fine reduced. There is definitely enough room to park a small car there without blocking a driveway. And lord knows we need the spots.

Yes! This is great. I'm tired of hearing all these smug stories from scumbags who fight every ticket and get away with this crap.

I wonder how much money they spent on these fancy new gadgets when they needed only to buy a few inexpensive digital cameras.

They do this on the UAlbany campus, too. Even if you are parked perfectly legally in the same spot you have parked pretty much every day year after year, you can get a ticket if your hang tag is not there to prove it. I was absolutely positive it was there on the day in question, and they let me go on for a while about why they had to be wrong, and then they showed me the picture...

I learned from a reliable source that Albany was #3 in the nation in regards to parking ticket revenue.
Seems crazy to me.

I swear that these "cameras" are also equipped with snow melting lasers... but, fyi, the legal distance you need to be from a hydrant it is 15 feet. And yes, in addition to photos they do take measurements.

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For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

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