LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Ron Ochida of Burbank fought two parking tickets, and one of them was dismissed.

What he didn’t know is that he actually beat both tickets. But the person deciding his case claims he was unfairly overruled by his boss.

“Did you think were getting a fair hearing when you fought it?” CBS2’s David Goldstein asked Ochida.

“I thought so,” he replied.

Joe Kunkaew is what’s called a traffic examiner. He works at the L.A. City Parking Violations Bureau in Van Nuys as a sort of judge who hears evidence from motorists trying to get traffic tickets dismissed.

In Ochida’s case, he got hit with two $363 tickets in December, when he says he mistakenly used his handicapped placard that he had reported missing but later found.

So, he got slapped with one ticket for using the lost placard and another citation for not using a valid placard.

Ochida didn’t think that was right.

“You either get ticketed for having a placard or not having a placard,” he said. “I had a placard, so I shouldn’t be ticketed.”

Kunkaew essentially agreed.

“I was going to reduce one of the citations to $25 and the other waived the entire fine,” he said.

Kunkaew even showed Goldstein the letter Ochida was supposed to receive showing the total fine of $726 was reduced to just $25 due. But the letter that actually went out showed him liable for one of the tickets plus the $25, for a total of $388.

According to Kunkaew, management informed him they would not approve of the decision.

“Do you think that’s right?” asked Goldstein.

“No, I do not,” Kunkaew replied.

And that’s not the only time where examiners claim they were pressured into ruling in favor of the city.

Last month, two former traffic examiners sued the city in Superior Court and won close to a half-million dollars in taxpayer money after a jury found the city guilty of firing them because they complained about being forced to change decisions.

Or as Kunkaew put it, those who contest citations are “not receiving the fair shake that they should be receiving.”

Hyung Nick Kim is one of the former examiners who won the case. He says he was pressured to rule in favor of the city so the city would get money, nearly $150 million in parking fines for fiscal year 2015-16.

Attorney David Myers, who won the case, says hearing examiners should be the only ones making decisions.

“The vehicle code is very specific,” said Myers. “The hearing examiners are the ones who are supposed to weigh the evidence to provide a fair and impartial hearing.”

In 2013, the city conducted an investigation into the allegations, and according to notes obtained by CBS2, several examiners claimed they were forced by supervisors like Kenneth Heinsius to change decisions.

Heinsius, who was not involved in the Ochida case, denies ever pressuring examiners, who say he did exactly that, with one saying, “If I find the person liable, my life is a whole lot easier.”

“So, all of those examiners that said those things, implying that you pressured them into changing their decision, they lied?” Goldstein asked.

“Yes,” replied Heinsius.

In the end, city investigators sided with the supervisors, saying they “did not abuse their authority”. But examiners say it’s still going on.

Ochida says he’d like to get his money back.

When told he actually beat two tickets instead of one and asked whether he thinks he got a fair shake, he simply answered, “No.”

Comments (4)
  1. Wayne Johnson says:

    Mr Goldstein,

    Because of the parking situation in San Pedro and the results of it, I am considering running for City Council. I am a retired teacher and a diabetic. Because of these things, I lost my car and am living in Graceland in SP. This is a complicated story that is partially my fault. Over the past three years I repeatedly ended up in the hospital over my diabetes and my badly damaged knee. I have paid for three thousand dollars in tickets, towing charges, and the refusal of my Councilman to talk to me about the problem. I never got to talk to him about the problem, although I repeatedly tried to talk to him, I wrote him letters.
    I have been a diabetic for 55 years or so. I have taught Science and History for thirty years, retiring at Gardena High School, where I went to school, played football. I actually was fired by the LAUSD about 12 years before I retired. The superintendent of District ordered me to be re-hired because I had done so much for the children and the District. There is so much more to this story, you won’t believe it.
    I retired in 2012 to San Pedro and started getting parking tickets because of the street sweeping rules in LA. I lived on a street that was being swept, few trreets are. I need to talk to you, there is so much to this story. Ultimately I lost my car my apartment and most od the money I had. I had almost given up hope and then I heard your story about parking tickets in LA the other night; what is being done in La has got to be illegal. You needto hear my story.. I am leaving my phone number and my email. 424-339-6808 Please Call

  2. on 9/10 the illegal towing after moving a cone with a sign on top, on Boyle : sunday tree cutting with less than secure signs became a paycheck for towyards that broke peoples cars ( mine took 45 min to enter by pushing and breaking my window and ofcourse we use the clubs, they broke my club and stearing lock and arrived after a lady moved a cone and placed wire sign that fell after her picture… gave no actual notice the tree that marked with x was behind my vehical add no signs were in front , but it took two hours to find the legal spot and still they robbed us making 50,000 $ off low income persons on a sunday in boyle heights , no one could find there cars till it cost 325 $ to get out and 100 for the ticket they cant confirm they have to investigate so it will be denied and doubled by time you know and if you get another ticket while you wait, expect that if you complain I reported the towtyard for the damage but i have heard nothight from the towyard ” on valley that took 3min to arrive from the call for service … this is why people lose there cars and become homeless its a corrrupt system making money for only 2 groups who work together to act when you least suspect some event .. BASICALLY i cant plan anything i cant come and go from my apartment i dont deserve toi have parking and come inside but am forced ” to use metro becasuse they dont think low income should have cars so they prevent you from parking and tell you so or tajke you vehical like theives in the night when i come home it takes 2 hours and blocks away to walk scared of the guy in the cut” the parking ticket guy is who i usually notice witgh a smug creepy look .. watching me walk for blocks in the darkness making sure no one can get away at 12mid he watches as you look for hours and he laughs creepy and its on purpose .. that doesnt happen nightly if your jose juzaire and return from anywhere but the same area he represents .. where i live im still looking for parking and he is inside waiting for construction on purposed housing only for the homeless grant money and the people losing now dont matter they dont want to save the now they want the grant money so they need 20% homeless increase this year to top the charts so i guess the parking was a major incentive up up increasing those numbers and taking the almost homeless to the level where the grants will give him project for the future // crazy rich and unlucky low income boyle heights … you lose agian proof doesnt apply when it comes to fighting for your money back incentives are to big to let you win they win… always never seen anyone win even with a mechanics proof they denied me.