LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — If you live in Los Angeles, chances are you have gotten a parking ticket or known someone who has gotten one.
But CBS2’s Melanie Woodrow reports that of all contested tickets, nearly half are being overturned.
Thousands of tickets have been wiped off the books and many of them — although no one can say exactly how many — are being overturned because of errors allegedly made by parking enforcement agents.
Westlake District resident Michael Rodas says he’s a victim of such an error — although his case started with his own mistake.
“I overslept and I woke up at like 7:30 a.m.,” he said.
He admits he was in the wrong, but what happens when the city makes a mistake?
“I saw two tickets,” Rodas said. “The first one at 7:06 a.m. on 6th Street for no stopping or standing. The second one at 7:17 a.m. on Beverly Boulevard for not stopping or standing.”
Rodas tells Woodrow he was especially shocked by the second ticket.
“I wasn’t parked at that location,” he said.
Rodas’ car was towed from 6th Street at 7:20 a.m., but that Beverly Boulevard ticket written three minutes earlier cost him an extra $93. The extra ticket made him mad — and stressed.
The same could be said about Atwater Village resident Jeff Galfer.
“It’s not fair, it’s not OK,” Galfer said.
The Atwater Village man said he became sick and tired of his fellow Angelenos getting ticketed unjustly. So much so that he’s suing the city, the Department of Transportation Management and Xerox.
Yes, Xerox. The city outsources the parking citation review, collection and processing to the copier and technology giant.
Woodrow reports the money the city makes off expired parking meters and other parking citations is big business. Last year, the city made approximately $157 million dollars.
Galfer says there are at least three ways the city is making some of that money at your expense.
1. Contradictory signs
2. Hidden signs
3. Missing tickets
“The craziest one is the ‘We lost it in the mail correspondence,'” Galfer said.
A frustrated caller on YouTube posted such a discussion with the Parking Violations Bureau.
“If the post office has lost something, is it my responsibility and should I be penalized?” the caller asked.
The reply: “The Parking Violations Bureau, sir, does hold you responsible, correct, yes.”
According to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, there were 2.65 million parking citations issued for fiscal year 2012-2013.
Of those, drivers contested 135,291 and 54,947 were dismissed. LADOT says it does not know how many of the dismissed tickets were due to enforcement errors on the part of officers.
“That error rate, to me, is too high,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The new mayor said LADOT needs to do better by drivers, starting with a new general manager.
The big problem?
“I think it’s been incompetence and lack of attention,” he said.
Woodrow said DOT officials turned down several requests for an on-camera interview. But in an emailed statement they said, “Mistakes issuing citations can happen and the adjudication process ensures that citizens have multiple opportunities to contest the citation.”
But Galfer says it takes time and tenacity. He’s never had a ticket overturned. He hopes his odds — and everyone elses — are better in court.
“Would it be nice to see 100,000 people get $10 back on all the trauma they’ve dealt with? It’s not enough, but sure,” Galfer said.
DOT and Xerox told Woodrow they couldn’t commend on the pending litigation.
After Woodrow took her findings to LADOT and asked officials to investigate, a spokesperson said Michael Rodas’ second ticket was dismissed.
DOT also issued work orders to fix one of the conflicting signs in her report.
To contest or pay a Los Angeles parking citation, click here.
To put in a service request about conflicting signs, click here.
To sign Jeff Galfer’s class-action lawsuit petition, click here.
To tell Melanie Woodrow about a parking ticket you received, tweet her @MelanieWoodrow.