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L.A. going easy on chronic parking violators, losing $15 million, audit finds [Updated]

A ticket being issued in L.A.

Despite aggressive parking enforcement, Los Angeles has gone easy on chronic scofflaws who rack up multiple unpaid parking tickets, with the city missing out on up $15 million in revenues, a new audit has found.

The audit released Tuesday focused on severe parking offenders who had five or more unpaid parking tickets. It found that when city Transportation Department employees came upon such a vehicle, they failed to report those offenders for impounding or a boot in 73.5% of cases.

"Tickets only work if the city abides by the laws on the books," said City Controller Wendy Greuel at a news conference Tuesday. "The city cannot afford such lax enforcement," she said.

Amir Sedadi, interim general manager for the L.A. Department of Transportation, said a special unit was formed in 2008, with 38 employees who focused on such severe offenders and used special technologies to locate their vehicles, even when they were not in current violation.

However, that unit was disbanded in August 2009, Sedadi said, because of staffing shortages in other areas of the department, and patrol cars that used license plate recognition technology were put into storage.

Sedadi and other LADOT officials said the decision was partly made so that the department could reach its revenue goal of $132 million for that year.

But under pressure from the controller, the LADOT re-created the centralized unit and said it now has 19 employees.

[Updated at 1:02 p.m.: An audit released last year found 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.

That 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.]

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Photo: A ticket being issued in L.A. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (24)

What 'special technologies' are used to locate vehicles? And License Plate Recognition Technology? And these are in storage? Are you kidding me? Rather than look for people not paying their parking tickets - how about using this technology to find stolen cars?

There's not a need to have all these parking enforcement agents to cite the hard working citizens of City of Los Angeles. Get rid of these employees and that will eliminate the 15 million gap fairly quick!

I doubt LA will be able to recover much money from these serial criminals but I sure wish they used the boot more. People living in broken down RVs are a pervasive problem, and they are just the kind of vehicle that can rack up 20 unpaid parking tickets. I successfully got a vehicle booted but it took 25 calls to my LAPD senior lead officer and some help from my neighborhood council. If nothing else getting rid of the RV freed up the parking enforcement to write tickets that might actually be paid!

This city is so poorly run.

I can't imagine the dolts who make decisions in this city would last 4 months in the private sector!

Stop abusing the citizens to pay your overflowing pensions obligations!

The concept of parking violations is, for the most part, absurd as we the people pay for the roads, maintenance of the roads, parking meters, the paint that is placed on the roads to delineate parking spaces, and the uniform, tickets, pay and benefits and vehicles of those that issue parking violations. What municipalities should be focusing their time and our money on is reducing the number of motor vehicles and making cities and towns walkable, rather than drivable.

I DEMAND TO KNOW WHAT SPECIAL TECHNOLOGIES,,, AND WHAT BASIS
DO THE HAVE TO USE THEM AGANIST US!!!!!!

$15 million worth of incompetence.

Hey Morons at the LA Department of Transportation......add the tickets fee's and the penalties to the individuals DMV registration...you'll get your money, or they won't get the new sticker....

And if just one hard working, only driving back and forth to the supermarket/ work unlicensec and uninsured undocumented worker DOESN'T get his/her car towed away, I think the millions lost in revenue is worth it.

How many warrants have been issued for these violators?

Ok, if you break a rule, you should pay the fine. Sounds crystal clear, until you delve into the details of parking citations. If parking signs, meters, and colored curbsides, special permit parking zones, etc. were maintained, no one could legitimately feel taken advantaged of for parking in such zones. But that's not what happens, meters break (or are broke) and yet the vehicle is cited. Sometimes the signs are badly defaced or are located so sparingly, it's unclear whether the sign half a block away (or further) corresponds to the area you are parking in.

A typical citation of about $65 is roughly three times the median hourly wage in the city. If a motorist has a particularly bad week and receives two citations, that's about a third of a typical Angeleno's weekly wage. Furthermore, a motorist who tried to contest the citation has to argue his case to...the Parking Violations Bureau. Does this make sense? You contest something with the agency you feel wronged you? Beyond that, if a motorist is wrongfully cited and wins, it takes the city a couple months to refund your money, but the city has a strict 21 CALENDAR days (not business) for a motorist to cough up the cash.

Enforcing the laws isn't the problem in my view, it's the laws and the rigid agency enforcing them that creates this problem.

They arent LOSING money, they just arent getting it for imposing their will on us citizens!

LEAVE US ALONE! We dont have money! You keep raising taxes, issuing traffic infractions left and right, cutting money from everybody's budget and now some silly audit is supposed to make you feel motivated to make the city and state petty cash?

That supposed "$15 million dollars that is lost" is not going to into anything good anyways. Sacramento is going to take it to pay for the represntatives gas and cell phone bill's when they themselves arent doing any work!

In 1984, the City used to have a special detail whose job it was to specifically hunt, locate and either boot or tow scofflaw vehicles. This unit used to bring in millions of dollars annually! But then, when they did their job too well, and the number of scofflaw vehicles went down, it was disbanded, in favor of having these officers write citations instead. Funny thing was, when word got out where the detail was working, people would go pay on their outstanding citations, just to avoid being booted!

The other funny thing is, the City pays a fee to a firm located in New York to process every parking citation issued, even if that citation is never paid! That is a function that could be done with City personnel. If the City writes $132 million citations every year, think of how much more money it would get if it didn't have to pay this firm, who has no incentive to collect because they get paid anyway.

tarwater -- you would feel different if you owned a store in an area with limited parking and depended on the turnover that meters create to keep afloat.

" .... used special technologies to locate their vehicles, even when they were not in current violation." .... the city can spend money for this yet wont spend a dime to monitor gangsters?

sounds like blame shiffting to me, parking tickets are to blame for poor administration dessisions!

What a bunch of garbage. Its impossible to use public transit in this town from one end to the other. City elected gumbahs and employee's with solid gold perks get their parking tickets fixed while the rest of us pay the freight. It is apparent today and will become increasingly apparent to others in time that government in this town does not work, it has never worked and LA is looserville.

You can forget about traffic court - they are as corrupt as the Saudi Royal Family

pension colllection !!!

thats the new football team

Los Angeles Pensions!


In every other self respecting city they boot the cars. Boot up L.A. ! It's a disgrace that we have all these people getting paid to write tickets and they cant even collect the fines

Have a private contracting firm just do the job, hook & book the auto and when the driver retrieves it, the firm gets a fee for service.

Better yet, hire students or people on welfare to drive around with this technology. I'm sure there are retirees, who are capable of running a system and they would work for a few bucks, just to make time pass.

REGARDING ANTHEM BLUE CROSS:

Anthem has offered the despised "Cadillac health plans" and has over profited from them at the public expense. How about another example of their business ethics?

Foreign health insurance is about half or less the cost of U.S. policies due to much lower medical costs outside America. The Anthem Blue Cross Foreign Residents' Plan is the same as the domestic plan at the same premium price. It pays less in benefits for the equal premium and reimburses at 60% which is 10% less for provider services which are only a fraction that of U.S. costs while continuing to challenge bills and refusing to pay a fair share. The inequity is written into their insurance contracts which they control without oversight. It is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition which they can change at whim.

Anthem is white collar crime perpetrated on the public. It is not only time to contact your local and Federal legislator about pricing, but about his/her taking campaign money from Anthem in exchange for his help. The system is fully corrupt making your vote and wishes worthless. This is money politics and you are treated the same as both an insurance subscriber and a voter.

25 cents gets you five minutes in the flower/fashion/fabric/garment/jewelry/produce/toy/textile district. If you are late, even a minute, you'll get a ticket for 88 dollars. Didn't see the ticketing officer, or get a copy of the ticket? No problem. They used their handheld to beam the info from your vehicle, you'll get a copy in the mail. Wrong address? You were not there? You could contest the ticket by mail. Guess what the outcome is going to be? If that is not paid in four weeks, you will owe 200 dollars, plus daily interest if that is not paid immediately.

This is economic terrorism aimed directly at those who require vehicles to buy and sell physical products - and create thousands of jobs - at the core of our city, much of which was constructed long before the arrival of motorized vehicles, and does not have adequate parking to support the needs of those loading and unloading bulky packages.

The current system does very little that is positive for the city while providing minimal revenue for monies expended - and the fines are completely out of proportion to any fair enforcement. It is another tax on those doing business.

Resist this terrorism and support your friends, neighbors, and fellow business persons by honking your car horn ten times, loudly, whenever you see a parking enforcement vehicle scouting for vehicles to ticket, or in the process of ticketing anyone. If everyone does this, they will abate their terrorist tactics


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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.
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