How L.A. Works: Parking Violations

You can park, but you can’t hide. Last year the Department of Parking Enforcement raked in roughly $160 million from drivers’ missteps, even with the thousands of deadbeats who blow off paying the fees. Let’s dissect the fine print
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TRAFFIC COPS IGNORE YOU ON PURPOSE…

  • The LAPD’s transportation bureau became an independent department in 1985. Public traffic officers are not police officers, but they do have to undergo training, which includes learning how to manage aggressive citizens. The more you shout, the less they listen.

…WHILE TICKETING YOU WITH THEIR UNCOOL TECH

  • Public traffic officers once wrote tickets on paper slips that bought you a little time. Now they carry more efficient computer tablets. After a ticket is issued, it’s instantly sent to the Traffic Violations Department for processing. No bribes, no backsies.

NO PAY IS THE DUMB WAY TO PLAY

  • There are more than 100 ways to get a ticket, from parking in a loading zone ($58) to displaying a “For Sale” sign in your car more than three times in one year ($505). Ticket recipients have 21 days to contest citations in court, but after that, the fees double. After 58 days, they go up again.

TRY TO STAY CLEAN

  • Parking in restricted areas during the hours designated for street cleaning is the most common violation. Last year 681,301 street-cleaning citations were issued. Even though only about 77 percent of those tickets were paid, the revenue from them alone totaled $44,933,989.

KEEP AN EYE ON POLITICS

  • The 15 members of the L.A. City Council determine the price of parking violations, based on a report prepared by the city’s administrative officer. The report features data comparing L.A. rates with those in other cities, which are compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

UPSIDE: THE MONEY IS PUT TO GOOD USE

  • All ticket payments go directly to the city’s General Fund, which pays for an array of civic needs, from police salaries to public tree trimming. Until about five years ago, the money from parking tickets went to road and sidewalk upkeep.

BUT IT STILL TICKS US OFF

  • The mayor’s office meets regularly with the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative, a citizen group outraged by climbing ticket fees. The citation crusaders are exploring alternatives to tickets, among them a warning system and fees based on the average Angeleno’s hourly wage of $25. We’ll see if their suggestions get any traction.

Need help deciphering a sign or want advice about fighting tickets? Check out an app called Park Safe LA.

LA Woman
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This feature originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Los Angeles magazine

 

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