A San Diego driver claims the city of San Diego is charging her for parking tickets she never got.
"This is kind of when everything started,” Van Reynolds said, holding up a letter delivered Feb. 2 from the city’s delinquent accounts program.
It charged her for a parking ticket issued last November. But when she checked the city’s website, she found she actually had a second ticket, this one issued last month. Making matters worse, she not only owed a parking ticket for parking in a street sweeping zone on Park Boulevard, she now owed collection fees – doubling the price tag.
In both cases Reynolds said she never found a ticket on her windshield, and never received a bill in the mail.
"Obviously I was shocked,” Reynolds said. That was quickly turned into anger and frustration."
"Frustration" because Reynolds said she would have never parked where she did if she thought the city was ticketing again.
Not sure when exactly the city was ticketing? It's been a challenge over the past year for drivers.
The city of San Diego first suspended parking enforcement last March. It was only supposed to last through July, but the city extended it to August, and then again to September, and then another month to October. That's when parking enforcement picked up in full force, but for only about two months, because in December the city suspended ticketing again. That suspension just expired last month.
"Not very clear!” Reynolds said. “Really vague actually. I think that's to say the least! It's been confusing. I know I'm not the only person who doesn't really know what's going on."
Had she found a ticket on her windshield or received a bill in the mail, Reynolds said she would have paid it.
NBC 7 asked the city about that.
The office of the City Treasure denied our multiple requests for an on-camera interview. However, in a statement, the office said they sent the two bills to an address the DMV had on file for Reynolds in Arizona.
"Yet I had no problem receiving this collections notice at my actual residence,” Reynolds said. “So they made sure I got that!"
In that same written statement, the city said the delinquent accounts program has its own tool to verify addresses, which is why they sent the collections notice to a different, local address – where Reynolds actually resides.
"It feels beyond frustrating,” Reynolds said. “I feel like I am just being trampled over. I can't readily afford to pay that. I think that's really steep."
Like so many, Reynolds is currently unemployed and lost her housing during the pandemic.
Now she worries how many other San Diegans face the same fallout from a policy (somewhat ironically) intended to help people like her.
"I'm concerned for other people who, A, have experienced this,” Reynolds said. “But I think more importantly, other people who cannot afford to spend all day, multiple days in a row, on the phone. You essentially have to take off work to handle this! And I know there are people who cannot afford that luxury."
The office of the City Treasurer also told NCB 7 Reynolds could appeal, but the window for the November ticket - the one with the collections fees - has already expired.
In 2019, parking citations brought in more than $20 million for the city of San Diego. In 2020, parking tickets garnered more than $17 million.