Reporting David Goldstein
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Police in downtown Los Angeles are cracking down on parking meter cheats. Specifically they’re targeting people who illegally use disability placards to get away with free parking.
CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein was on hand to watch the crack down.
“Are you disabled?”
This man isn’t disabled. Neither is this woman. Or this woman.
But all were caught using disabled placards that allow them to park for free.
“You’re using it to scam the city and not put money in the meter, right?”
Officials say the placards are showing up all over the downtown area. Some being used by people who aren’t really disabled. It’s that misuse that’s costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.”
Look at this one block. Watch as we speed up the camera. We found 13 or 15 cars displaying disabled placards! That’s 86%. Some may be here legally — others may not.
With the placards, you don’t have to feed the meters.
That will save you $3 an hour downtown.
But the DMV says it’s illegal to use someone else’s placard. However police say many people are doing it.
A task force was set up. “This morning we’ve identified several areas in the Civic Center area which we will be initiating enforcement action for the disabled placards.”
Officials former the task force to try and combat the problem.
“The first thing you ask them is, ‘Is this your placard?’”
It consists of investigators from the City Department of Transportation, the DMV and LAPD.
“So all the investigators, you guys will be issuing the misdemeanor citations.”
DMV investigators will be writing citations that could run up to $1,000.
“In order to be successful getting these citations fills, what we gotta do is we gotta make sure you see the person with the placard.”
The Task Force was formed by a LA City Councilman Dennis Zine.
“In the downtown area, it’s out of control. You will seldom find a parking spot that doesn’t have the placard.”
They break off into teams and hit the streets.
We followed two undercover as they waited for people to park using a disabled placard.
“Good morning, Sir. I’m Sergeant Garcia with the Department of Transportation. Can I look at your placard?”
Many people produce documentation showing the placard is issued to them.
“You’re okay. Thank you for cooperating. We’re just making sure that you do get the privilege that is extended to you and that other people that are not, we catch.”
Others like this woman were caught using someone else’s placard. And received a citation.
“Why are you using the placard?”
She said she didn’t speak English.
“Am I gonna get arrested?”
This man wasn’t arrested but was also nabbed — using his girlfriend’s placard.
“So he was using it improperly because it was hers?”
“Correct. He put it up, walked away from the vehicle, never made an attempt to feed the meter. Therefore he utilized it for the privilege that he doesn’t have.”
The placard was confiscated and he was cited.
“You’re using it improperly and you’re not feeding the meter, too?”
“I know, look at the consequences. I have to pay for that now.”
“It’s a rip-off of the system and it’s affecting the disabled community that really needs to have the parking and it’s also taking money away from the general fund. that helps operations to make the city work properly.”
In all, investigators wrote 14 citations — they confiscated 13 disabled placards in a three-hour period.
And hopefully, they sent a message that the placards are a privilege — and not a perk to park for free.
David Goldstein, CBS2 News.