Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

L.A. losing millions of dollars on uncollected parking tickets, other fines and fees, audit shows

On a day when Los Angeles laid off more than 200 employees, a new audit released Thursday revealed that the city is losing tens of millions of dollars in revenue because of collection practices that barely capture half of parking ticket fines and other fees.

"I don't know of any business that would stand for such a low collection rate," said City Controller Wendy Greuel, who released the audit of six departments -- police, fire, housing, transportation, sanitation and building and safety. "It's simply not sustainable, and the city cannot and should not allow this to continue."

The audit, which looked at fiscal year 2008-09, showed that only 53% of some $553 million in city billings were collected. That's a loss of $260 million annually—enough, said City Councilman Paul Koretz, to have helped fill a budget gap that has led to hundreds of layoffs, reduced library hours and other service cuts.

Among the most "egregious" examples, the city auditor said, were parking citations and Emergency Management Services billing accounts. The city only collected 53% of the money it is owed on parking citations, the audit found, and 38% owed in emergency service billings.

"We need to do better, because otherwise the situation is grim," said Koretz, who chairs the council's audits and governmental efficiency committee and joined Greuel at a press conference outside City Hall. "There's a sword of Damocles that hangs heavy over countless city employees who fear their jobs might be the next ones lost."

The audit is a follow-up to a similar study three years ago. The city controller found some improvement, but said it was "outrageous and unacceptable" that Los Angeles had not made more progress.

Under-collection of revenue is a problem at every level of government, and officials acknowledge that not all billings are ultimately collectible. For instance, some vehicle owners will never pay their tickets, while indigent patients may never reimburse the city for ambulance fees. How Los Angeles' collection rate compares to other cities was not known, the controller said.

However, Greuel said there was ample room for improvement, and pushed for several reforms. Among her recommendations were the creation of a centralized billing process and a mandate that police and fire departments expeditiously refer delinquent accounts to outside collection agencies.

-- Patrick J. McDonnell

Photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (89)

that the parking business hired - He does not want to
lose his job by letting you off the ticket so he lies like a
dog and then you have to go to your local court house
and pay what ever parking and appeal the judgment of the
non-judge Judge. They give you a court date and you better
be there on time or else they rule in favor of the parking business.
When you finally see the Judge it is not a Judge after all it is a Pro-Tem
who may or may not be understanding . In the mean time you have paid
at least $30 in parking $10 in gas to get out of a fricking $35 ticket.
But before all that the non-judge Pro tem reads to you what the non-judge
Judge in Downtown Los Angeles wrote on his official forms. and he lies
and says that the parking ticket guy who gave the parking ticket to you
actually showed up in Down Town LA when he did not.
That is when you usually get off. You get your $35 back, and your Appeal
but not your parking expense.

forgetting about the whole thing

It's interesting to read all of these posts from people, saying that parking ticket fines are "illegal" and that the City is "gouging" people. This supposed moral indignation from people who then demand services and action and say Municipal employees don't do anything is laughable. I'm as po'ed as the next guy when I get a parking ticket, but ya know what? If I parked and didn't read the sign, or the meter ran out, I've gotta pay the piper. We all live here, and we all should contribute to the infrastructure if we want to sit around and bellyache about what we ought to be getting.

The tickets fees the city charges is absolutely ridiculous. I'm glad they have only managed to collect only a portion of the outstanding balance. You can't drive around in this city without the fear of getting a $500.00 plus ticket for not properly turning on red or rolling through a yellow light a bit to late. In Chicago, that ticket only costs you a $100.00.

As for parking tickets, I'm coming across more and more broken meters on the street and will not even park at them out of fear of getting a ticket from an unscrupulous meter person. Plus, there are multiple timetables for parking on signs that are either far to high up to read or just to darn difficult to figure out on a quick glance.

The city shouldn't have to rely on the hard work of its citizens to pay its bills by fining them these outrageous fees but should instead be conscious of how its spends its money and act responsibly.

I'm a responsible person but I am getting more paranoid when I'm out and about driving and parking in this town. It's almost not worth frequenting areas that have very restrictive parking conditions and cameras. Watch out West Hollywood and Culver City, you may just upset us enough that we might not want to frequent your business areas due to this situation.

"How do you collect parking fines from people who are here illegal and " do not exist" officially?

Some goes for the Emergency management services...the council backs illegals."

- Yup. Moved out of LA. As long as it remains a sanctuary city, I will boycott everything in LA, except the Lakers.

That's so sad. Awww....poor city. I remember paying $2000 in parking fees one year. It was in areas I had never even been to. And false tickets such as parking in handicap areas when you are not in handicap areas. Taking days off work and losing money to bring proof that you were not in the wrong but they say you are right so there. One time I was in the hospital in Santa Monica and got a ticket in East LA. The clerk told me that they decided they were right and I was wrong because someone could have taken my car, driven to east LA, got a ticket, and came back and reparked my car in the hospital parking lot. Seriously? Dishonest bunch of crooks.

Are you kidding me?! I want my salary and generous benefits paid by fines. Where do I sign up?

Well when you fill a city with nothing but Illegals that use emergency services as there daily doctor visits , you get what you deserve! Long live AZ !!!!!

The mob would never stand for such blatant disregard to shake down anyone in it's territory either.

Way to go LA!

I am so sick of cities raping people for parking tickets as a means to substain the budget. I believe that West Hollywood survives primarily on parking citations. I wish I could find a way to get out of paying my Bogus tickets. What a joke!

The parking inforcment issues many tickets that are not valid. When you contest the citation they make it impossible for you to fight, because they lie lie lie and at the end of the day after arguing with them you end up paying for something that was BS from the jump. I'm glad they are not getting paid.

I guess they'll have to increase the number of motocycle cops to hide in the bushes to ""protect us""

link there parking tickets to there dmv records. If you dont pay your fines suspend there license.

Ticketing people as an industry to maintain and or increase jobs in the public sector? That will look good on a tourism brochure.

Not to mention the millions wasted and or stolen by the City Counsel of LA.. Hey the are modeling it after the Mexico system.. Corrruption at every turn...

Not surprised considering the fact that this predatory practice is nothing but revenue raising gambit for the city.

whatever if they would actually put u tickets the old fashion way u would notice that actually have a ticket and would try to pay it on time ,but no they actually hide behind a tree or pole and sometimes they wouldn't send it until is over due without u knowing . A month later so u don't actually have to pay just a ticket but also the horrible fees , another one is they put a ticket and when u request to see the video they refuse and say u would still have to pay the TICKET. that's a rip off if u governor left the city with out money dont get back at the citizens that live in LA.

This is to response to a person named DUDE . You know I think MEXICO got weapons of mass destruction. I just don't understand why we keep blaming illegals for all our troubles . If our forefathers will see how lazy and spoiled we become they will be so sad. They estimate that there are 20.000.000. illegals here in the good USA and that they are here for free. So that mean they have to have fake social security numbers to get benefits. You see this is the land of the opportunities why don't stop talking and work and become someone instead of just blaming others for your scuses . If you a real American get up from you lazy sofa and work. HERE IS THE TRUE USA IS THE EMPLOYER AND MEXICO IS THE EMPLOYEE THIS IS THE WAY IT IS. WE NEED CHEAP LABOR. IF WE DON'T DO IT JAPAN CAN TAKE OVER AND HIRE MEXICANS TO TAKE US OUT OF THE COMPETITION. STOP CRYING. LETS GIVE THEM THE RIGHT TO STAY HERE SO THEY CAN PAY TAXES JUST LIKE YOU AND ME THEN CONTROL THE BORDER. NOW THE DRUG CARTELS ARE ANOTHER MATTER. PRESIDENT FELIPE CALDERON GOT BALLS HE CAN GET SHOT ANYTIME. WE CAN ALSO TELL OUR KIDS TO STOP BUYING DRUGS. BUT IT WONT WORK BECAUSE WE ARE SPOILED AND LAZY. YOU SEE THE PROBLEM ARE NOT THE ILLEGALS IS US.

They should only get a 50% paycheck. Then you would see 100% collection!

What idiots voted for Villaragoisa? You people did. You get what you deserve and you have ZERO right to complain about it.

The city of Los Angeles has $260,000,000 to collect? Hire a privately owned collection service. They charge 50% of what they collect so we should be able to collect maybe $50 - $60 million to help our city budget.
And if you're complaining about the high cost of parking tickets? Read the parking signs, feed the meter, or just stay home. And please stop whining.

That's because they charge too much. Seriously...$45.00 for a .25 cent parking meter violation. And for that quarter you now get 15 minutes. And if it's around a Starbucks you better cover it on Sundays as well. Unless your LAPD. Then you can park at any meter or red zone while you get your coffee and not worry about a thing.
If they cut that in half they would get more people to pay and if you let me do it I'll guarantee you about another 100 tickets a day. The people in this town can't drive to save their lives!

One way of stopping the layoffs is to vote yes on 19 in November. The legalization of marijuana would be such a huge cash boost for the state and thus would end layoffs and eventually eliminate the deficit.

Jad in his post;

LA is not "losing" money. It is, rather, not "collecting" money that it may well have no business collecting. The purpose of parking citations is to keep traffic moving, so that businesses in the area can prosper; they are not supposed to take the place of taxes.

Is dead-on right. Unfortunately he is in the extreme minority of people who think logically anymore in this state.

They have doubled the fines and only give you 10 min on a quarter.

People do not appreciate being extorted.

I wonder if Arnold ever paid his ticket?

Dont they add them to you registration at the end of the year???

« | 1 2 3 4 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: