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Hey, Matt:

A friend of mine got a ticket on Third Avenue, between Juniper and Ivy [downtown], for not having her tires turned in toward the curb. She was legally parked at a meter, had her emergency brake on, and the car was in gear, so it wasn't endangering other cars. I don't think that part of Third Avenue even qualifies as a hill, so what's the deal? How steep does a road have to be to qualify for a ticket like that? I don't think I've ever heard of anybody getting a ticket for not having their tires turned toward the curb!

-- Toni, North Park

I feel your pain. I applaud the outrage-by-proxy -- sticking up for a friend who's been wronged. That said, I hope your friend just paid the ticket and is now a habitual wheel-crimper. According to parking enforcement, the San Diego muni code adopted state guidelines, which say that a 3% grade is a hill. That's a 3-foot elevation change every 100 feet. Not much of an incline, but enough to send your parked motor home careening down the slope. That section of Third is a hill, by state definition.

Parking enforcement doesn't have a list of streets that qualify as hills. Experienced meterpersons know them when they see them. Some parking police are sticklers for this violation, some are more lenient. Whoever tickets the Bankers Hill/Middletown area probably spends lots of time looking for uncrimped wheels, since there aren't many level streets around there. On some streets, you'll find reminder signs about wheel-crimping. I'm told those only go up when there have been a large number of crimper tickets written in the area. If a ticket is challenged in court, the city's engineering department will drag out its maps and confirm the degree of slope.

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