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City of Oakland's parking czar Claudia Herrera must fix system

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This week for me in the City of Oakland has been one in hell. First, some housekeeping: for anyone who came to see my experimental Oakland talk show at the Lake Chalet, I'm sorry for not being there Wednesday as I was dealing with this City of Oakland issue far longer than I expected to. I'm going to do it again on Friday at 4 PM.

It's one thing to deal with tickets, but quite another to learn that if you pay the California DMV , the City of Oakland will not honor that payment for Oakland tickets if your car was towed. I also learned that its common for Oaklanders to "double pay" - that is pay the DMV first, but then be arm-twisted into paying the City of Oakland for the same set of tickets already paid for at the DMV!

Got that? And while the City of Oakland says it will pay you back, it takes almost a year to do, when it's done! In other words, you're paying for the City of Oakland's money collection issues with the DMV.

And a lot of Oaklanders have had their cars towed because the city "needs the money" from all the people I talked to at City Hall Wednesday.

The person who caused me to understand this apparent policy (I have my doubts) ia Claudia Herrera, the City of Oakland's parking supervisor, who's over the mess that is the sixth floor Oakland Parking Office at the Oakland City Administration Building at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, next to Oakland's City Hall.

Why do I know this? Because yesterday, in explaining why she could not clear the documents that read I paid Oakland tickets at DMV, she gave me a verbal run-around that bent logic and time and space in such a way that by the time I was done talking to her, I was in a near catatonic state.

She assumed I paid all of it to the DMV by cashier's check (some of it) and said "we don't accept cashier's checks. But I paid the DMV not the City of Oakland, and Oakland tickets were part of that payment.

She told me that a cashier's check is like a personal check! I'm serious. That was when I figured that nothing was going to get done. See, they're supposed to help you, not hurt you.

Plus, both Herrera and her assistant at the front counter didn't even look closely at my document to see what was paid until I insisted that they look at it.

I wound up being the last person to leave the office, and even then I didn't get the help I needed and as I sat in a state of shock over what I was going through, Herrera just walked off.

So I asked for her to come back - everyone of the parking patrons was gone by then and there was just staff - but she didn't and some person came out and said suddenly if I didn't leave she was going to call security. At that point, I whipped out my Flip Video Camera.

Oh, I've got that on video to come, so they can't twist the story!

I understand Claudia Herrera didn't create the system, but she can fix it. She's in the best position to do it. This isn't personal - she seems like a very decent person - but it's important because her decisions impact a lot of people in Oakland. And with Oakland's focus on gaining revenue from parking, people like Claudia Herrera should be known to the public.

So my next move is to call the DMV but perhaps take some measure that makes this whole deal go away for me. But I'm on the offensive because the City of Oakland needs to put a stop to this "misery industry" they've created.

Here's how it works:

The City of Oakland makes it hard for you to park your car. Then you get ticket after ticket. Once you get over five tickets, you become a tow target. If they tow your car and you pay DMV the City of Oakland will still hold you up from getting your car back from the tow yard.

Why have you not heard about this before? Because people don't want to talk about their misery from something that leads to the comment "Well you should not have parked there." Everyone knows that, but in Oakland a whole industry has been created from it, with the parking office, the police department, and the tow companies and this "double charging" of tickets already paid for at the DMV.

Parking rates are raised to levels that should be illegal, tickets are written, cars are towed at an alarming rate, and people are harmed by the misery industry.

It must stop. More later.
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