Laurie Capitelli thinks parkers should get a break.

In a measure that will be considered by the City Council Tuesday night, Capitelli is suggesting that parking enforcement officers give people a five-minute grace period after their meters expire.

“We hear that parking enforcement officers have been seen waiting at targeted cars for the exact minute the receipt has expired,” Capitelli wrote in the measure. “This has created tremendous ill will and frustration, ultimately discouraging people from patronizing our local businesses.”

Sometimes there is a discrepancy between the time on the watch of a patron and the time on the parking meter, Capitelli noted. This “friendlier” policy will ease that distinction.

The five-minute grace period would only apply to cars using a pay and display meter that produces a time-stamped receipt that can be displayed on a dashboard.

Any ease in parking restrictions would help attract customers because shoppers always have the option of going to a mall or going to Albany, where is parking is free, instead of coming to Berkeley, said Allen Cain, the director of the Solano Avenue Association.

“I honestly think it’s the least the city can do given the fact that parking enforcement on Solano is aggressive,” said Cain. “We think it has had a long-term impact on the character of the district. If Berkeley really wants to help Solano Avenue, it will eliminate paid parking to mirror Albany.”

Oakland adopted a similar measure in December. That measure was designed to ease tension when a person arrived at his or her car when a meter maid was writing a ticket.

Berkeley has revised its parking meter policies in the past to help out local business. In October 2010, the council voted to cover the heads of meters that had been installed on Adeline between Woolsey and Alcatraz because they had driven away business. It was supposed to be a six-month experiment, but the covers are still on the meters.

In February, City Council member Kriss Worthington asked the council to institute a new policy allowing meter maids to rip up a ticket if a driver arrived while it was being written. The measure was pulled from the agenda to allow more discussion with various parties.

Berkeley issues about 247,000 parking tickets a year, according to a city report. A ticket for an expired meter is $43.

Should Berkeley have a kinder parking ticket policy? [02.10.12]
New parking signs in downtown after neighborhood action [02.08.12]
Local towing company spotlighted in parking ruckus [01.18.12]
Parking around Trader Joe’s sparks vigilante action [01.05.12]

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...