L.A. Controller Says City Should Scrap Plan to Reduce Ticket Fines, Modernize Parking System Instead

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Last summer the head of L.A.’s Department of Transportation introduced a plan to reduce parking ticket fines, but on Tuesday the controller urged City Council to instead invest in an overhaul of parking infrastructure.

More than 2.4 million tickets are given out each year in Los Angeles; nearly half the time it’s either for a street cleaning violation or an expired meter. Last year, that helped the city generate nearly $148 million in ticket revenues — three-fourths of which went to overhead, salaries and administrative costs, according to Controller Ron Galperin.

The remaining $41 million in ticket revenue was transferred to the general fund, he said, which covers city services such as police and fire.

“As much as we’d like to reduce parking fines, we currently rely on the revenues,” Galperin said in a statement.

The alternative plan for reducing ticket fines introduced last summer by LADOT’s Seleta Reynolds would reduce the cost of street cleaning and expired meter tickets by $10, noting this would cut $12.55 million from the city’s budget.

“Even if the city were to reduce all traffic fines by half (which is not being proposed) the reduction would still be less than 1 percent of the total budget,” her report states.

But Galperin argues that the city should proceed cautiously as it faces a projected $245 million shortfall in its current budget and potential cuts in federal funding due to its status as a sanctuary city. Instead, lawmakers should invest in technology that would reduce the cost of parking enforcement and help residents avoid getting a ticket in the first place, he said.

“Out of date technology and miscommunication between departments can lead to unfair and punitive ticket fines,” Galperin said. “Angelenos deserve more than a fine reduction, they need a fair system that gives them a fair shake. No matter the price of a parking fine, an unfair ticket is still an unfair ticket.”

His suggestions for smarter parking technology include a smartphone app that allows users to add money to their meter remotely and digital parking signs that would have clearer messaging.

Notably, the LADOT plan introduced to City Council also called for such measures, including text-message notifications about street-sweeping enforcement.

He also advised decreasing the burden on violators by making changes to late fees and penalties — 19 percent of tickets currently get paid late and incur additional fees — along with a reevaluation of street sweeping schedules and more efficient delivery truck parking.

Galperin also unveiled a new parking website Tuesday that includes information on L.A.’s parking ticket program and when and where you are most likely to get a ticket.

Among other things, the website’s data shows the two biggest parking offenders are UPS and FedEx. Together, the delivery companies incurred more than 45,000 tickets last year, and it took the equivalent of 10 full-time traffic officers to regulate them.