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

April 26, 2011 | 12:46 pm

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