View All Posts

Apr 29

Menlo Park continues to chalk tires for parking enforcement

Posted on April 29, 2019 at 4:21 pm by Peter Ibrahim

On April 23, 2019, the City of Menlo Park was made aware of a parking enforcement ruling from U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling dealt with a case in Saginaw, Michigan, in which a woman received numerous parking tickets. She sued the City of Saginaw, claiming that it was unconstitutional for the City of Saginaw to “chalk” her car’s tires.

Chalking is a practice that has been used all over the nation for decades, in which a parking enforcement officer places a mark on a car tire with washable chalk, and then comes back after the parking time limit has expired to see if the car has moved.

Although the first court that heard the woman’s case ruled against her, she appealed the ruling. The appellate court ruled in favor of the woman and found that putting chalk on the tires of a car is a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure, comparing chalking tires to placing a GPS tracker on a vehicle, which now requires a search warrant.

For now, unless a different decision is made by a higher court, this ruling will stand and will continue to apply to everyone located within the jurisdiction of the 6th Circuit Court district (the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee). Parties involved could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, but the Supreme Court usually only reviews when there are contradicting decisions from different appeals courts. 

Staff has received numerous inquiries about this this decision, and as to why vehicle tires are still being chalked for parking enforcement. Since California is in the 9th Circuit Court district, decisions from other districts do not apply to our local regulations. Residents and visitors should understand that locally adopted regulations regarding parking in the downtown area and throughout the city are still in place.

Enforcement of local parking regulations ensures that on street and City-owned parking is available for those visiting our community and local businesses. Free downtown parking is limited based on the parking location. Downtown parking plazas currently provide 2-3 hours of free parking depending on location and free on-street parking varies from 15 minutes to 2 hours. Be sure to check all signs and markings. 

Police Department staff will continue to monitor this case; however, no changes are currently planned for Menlo Park’s parking enforcement.