Monday, June 10, 2019

Do you have a map? I can't find where we parked.

Congratulations!  Assuming you didn't take public transportation [which is usually your best option, if it's available],
Leave the driving to the professionals
and after fighting the morning rush hour traffic [you did give yourself at least an extra hour to get there, didn't you?],
This isn't Los Angeles altho it certainly could be
you finally arrive at the courthouse.  Your first order of business is to find somewhere in the same county to park your car.

Scary on the freeway, perfect for parking in Los Angeles
I work in Southern California, primarily in Los Angeles and Orange counties, but I've also been to courthouses in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego counties.  If you live in a less urban area, you'll probably just drive up, park within 50 feet of the front door, and saunter right in.  You can therefore simply read this blog post and laugh at all of us who live in SoCal or other urban counties.  We still like you.  We're just VERY envious =)
Sometimes we even look green
If you're going to court because you received the dreaded jury summons, it is likely the summons will include instructions on where to park at no charge [one of the perks, if you can call it that, of jury service].  When you get to the designated parking area, you'll usually take a ticket and when you get to the courthouse, the jury coordinator will validate it.  You MUST be parked in the lot indicated on the summons because it's the only lot that accepts the jury validation.  Be proactive [read: paranoid] about this.  Check the summons and a map twice, and verify in the jury room that you parked in the correct location.  A different location will NOT accept the jury validation.  Then you'll be out some serious cash.
This might be enough
Now for the rest of you unfortunate souls.

If you're going to one of what we term “outlying courthouses”, away from the county seat, you're usually in luck.  The courthouse parking lot is often adjacent to the courthouse, and sometimes you can actually see the courthouse from your parking space!  Many times it's even free, although sometimes you get what you pay for.

I've parked in lots with more bumps and weeds than this
And other times, you're in for a treat.  I've been to the courthouse in the below photo.  Close parking, a well-maintained and secure lot, and free!  Well, it was free the last time I was there.  I can't speak for now.
Vista courthouse in northern San Diego County
For courthouses with paid parking, some only accept cash, and sometimes it's exact change only.  Others are at the mercy of the credit card clearing system, which isn't always reliable.  So I always carry $40 cash in small bills, just in case.  Which is a good reason not to park too far away from certain courthouses, although most of the time I leave my purse/money locked in my trunk. 

In downtown Los Angeles, almost all parking within a half-mile of the courthouses [yes, there are at least five courthouses downtown] is in a structure, and will cost somewhere between $12-25 for anything longer than an hour.
This is in Long Island NY and probably costs much more than $25
Most of the time I can park 2-3 blocks from the courthouse and pay around $12.  Closer costs more.  Farther can get a little nerve-wracking if I'm leaving court after 3pm.  The night life in that area isn't the safest.
Skid Row, a few blocks from LA courthouses
If you thought San Diego would be less expensive than Los Angeles, you'd be wrong.  The last time I was in San Diego, the closest parking was about six blocks from the state courthouse [which is a LONG way in the rain while wearing a suit, trust me on that] and cost $22.  Ouch.  And federal court is worse.  When I was at the below courthouse, I parked about two blocks away [close, by San Diego standards] and gave up my entire $40 cash, which thankfully was sufficient.
Lovely old courthouse, nightmare parking
The first time I went to the San Diego central courthouse, I checked the court's website and a map to locate available parking, and it still took me 30 minutes of driving around before I found somewhere to leave my car.  [It also took me 30 minutes AFTER my hearing to find where I'd left it.]  This is yet another reason why I add at least an hour to my anticipated travel time.  Showing up to court late is not always an option, even for attorneys and even if I call the courtroom and let them know I'm still trying to find a parking place.

Hint from someone who learned the hard way – ALWAYS make a written note describing where you parked your car, and if more than a block away, also note the name of the street you walked down and the names of the streets you crossed to get to the courthouse.  Doing this will allow you to get home before midnight.  Although your view in San Diego at midnight might be worth it......
San Diego
Let me know in the comments about your most nightmarish parking experience!

Next week:  Yikes, armed security!  Will they let you inside?

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