Villaraigosa calls for immediate end to 'Gold Card' parking ticket system
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday called for an end to the little-known "Gold Card Desk" that City Controller Wendy Greuel criticized the day before as allowing elected officials to fast-track parking citation reviews. About 1,000 citations over a two-year period had been dismissed -- some without justification, her audit staff found.
In a letter to Department of Transportation Interim General Manager Amir Sedadi, Villaraigosa directed the department to "discontinue the Gold Card Desk immediately and to establish a uniform system accessible to everyone for contested parking citation intake and adjudication.
"Every member of the public deserves equal treatment and even the appearance of preferential treatment is unacceptable," wrote the mayor.
The citation desk service, which few outside city government appeared to know about, partly involved a plastic parking bureau "Gold Card" that was distributed to city offices. It included a special phone number to call and on the back noted that the holder may have an "urgent need to resolve any parking citation matter which requires special attention." It promised "you will be immediately connected to our Gold Card Specialist."
The program was started about 20 years ago to permit officials -- including the mayor and City Council members -- to expedite constituent appeals of parking tickets and possibly have fines reduced or eliminated. But auditors took issue with the service during the review announced Thursday.
In releasing the report, Greuel -- a possible candidate for mayor when Villaraigosa is termed out in 2013 -- said, "You should not need political pull to expedite the investigation of a ticket. ... There were no specific policies to guide the review of these citations ... we believe causing a rift for inappropriate cancellations."
-- William Nottingham and Ari Bloomekatz
Photo: City of Los Angeles Parking Violations Bureau Gold Card. Credit: Office of Councilman Richard Alarcon