Going to court isn't fun. Getting a parking ticket while you're there is even worse.
Just ask Jack Pollack. He got one Friday at the Santa Rosa courthouse after appearing before a judge in his drug treatment program.
Pollack said he was sitting in his car with the door open, about to leave, when a parking officer walked up and handed him a dreaded purple envelope containing a $43 fine.
Apparently, he didn't move out of the space fast enough, he said.
"He just shoved it in the door and said, 'sorry,' " said Pollack, of Hidden Valley Lake.
"I thought it was a little unreasonable," added friend Mike Costello, who was driving with him.
Pollack isn't the only one complaining about parking tickets at the Sonoma County Hall of Justice these days.
Jurors, lawyers and even judges say enforcement officers seem to be issuing them at a breakneck pace.
Some admit they've overstayed their time in one of dozens of 90-minute or two-hour spaces or made the mistake of parking in restricted zones.
But others insist they've done nothing wrong or committed innocuous offenses such as parking with their tires touching the line or curb.
In Pollack's case, he said the officer first told him he could remain in the spot until he made another patrol around the parking lot. But he returned within a minute with the ticket already filled out, he said.
Two jurors seated in a month-long murder trial this week complained they got tickets on the same day. One parked in a restricted zone and failed to display her juror pass on her dashboard. The other was touching the line with her tires.
Judge Gary Medvigy, who received a ticket himself in the past, sympathized but said there was nothing he could do. Parking enforcement is done by the county under contract with a private firm, not the courts.
"They are pretty vigilant," said Jose Guillen, executive officer of Sonoma County Superior Court. "Our jurors are doing their civic duty ... and on top of that, they get a ticket. We feel bad for them. But we're not in charge of that."
County officials deny they are being overzealous. Parking rules are clearly marked on signs. Each juror is given a pass that must be displayed to avoid a ticket, along with instructions on where to park.
Jose Obregon, the county's director of general services, said enforcement by a private contractor, First Alarm, is necessary to ensure employees and visitors have enough spaces.
Those who feel they've been ticketed in error can appeal, he said.
"They are giving citations based on what they are observing," said Obregon. "I have confidence the enforcement people are doing their job."
Parking officers, who are not paid based on the number of tickets they write, have been busy, according to records supplied by the county.
Last year, they issued 5,325 tickets and collected $183,625. Of that amount, about $40,000 was paid out in state and county surcharges and the remainder — $143,187 — was county revenue, said Jonathan Kadlec, the county's assistant treasurer-tax collector.
In the first four months of this year, they gave out 1,882 tickets and collected $66,817 with $51,699 going direct to county coffers, Kadlec said.