Here’s how I got out of my carpool-lane ticket: Roadshow

Q: I was taking my 1996 car for its final drive, going to the dismantler in Richmond for the $1,000 rebate, and accidentally wandered into the carpool lane. I changed lanes as soon as I realized my mistake. A few weeks later, I got a summons for $25 and a photo of my brief violation.

After signing up for FasTrak, the fine was canceled. I thought that was nice of FasTrak to be innovative like that.

Charles Sykes, Pacheco

A: At least there’s one happy driver with FasTrak.

Q: I live on a cul-de-sac off of Reliez Valley Road in Martinez, which borders Briones Park. We are a close-knit community of 17 homes near a larger development of about 75 homes.

Two years ago, a fire came from Briones right up to neighbors’ fences. Due to quick action from workmen at one house and the fire department, it was quickly extinguished.

Since then, we have been very proactive in protecting ourselves. We arranged to have the fire department educate us on fire prevention years ago. Because of power blackouts and loss of cell service last year, several of us have walkie talkies, bullhorns, fire hoses, cleared our properties of debris, etc.

Our biggest worry is how to evacuate in case of a fire. I have called the fire department who said to call police, who said to call the city manager who never called back. We have only one way out of our cul-de-sac and would need to merge with the traffic of 75 other households.

Kim Bjork, Martinez

A: You have done so much right. Now call your city council member and call the city manager back. Put pressure on them to respond to you. Your proactive efforts could be lifesaving.

Q: In 2013, I bought a new BMW 335i from Stevens Creek BMW. Within months and for the next 3½ years I had dozens of issues, which they always took care of. When the warranty was about to expire, and with no end in sight to the problems, I talked to the sales manager. I couldn’t possibly sell it to a third party with the problems it had, and I’d take a bath trading it in.

He referred me to BMW North America Customer Service. In three days, I had a contract for a buyback. Not a trade, but a fully refunded contract for the purchase price of the vehicle, along with their deep apologies.

With that level of service, you know what I did with that check? I bought another one. It’s the best car I’ve ever owned.

Lisa Plane, San Jose

A: A happy lemon law story. I can dig that.

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at Look for Gary Richards at or contact him at or 408-920-5335.

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Author: Gary Richards