Parking tickets! The bane of our existence. We bitch to our neighbors about them. We curse the officers who hand them out. We pray we don’t get one whenever we venture out in this city of ours.
With enforcement of extended parking meter hours set to begin on Tuesday, parking tickets are on people’s minds more than ever.
Oscar Deglado, the city’s director of public works, knows the city’s parking rules are a source of consternation for residents and visitors alike. But he says parking rules and tickets are a necessity in a city where parking can be scarce.
“Let’s let everyone disregard parking enforcement for a day and see what happens,” Delgado said.
If people don’t understand the rules, Delgado encourages them to call City Hall.
“We’ve always prided ourselves in the city that you get to talk or vent to a live person,” Delgado said. “You don’t get that in a lot of other cities.”
“I have found most of the time when I sit down with a resident and explain this is why we enforce these regulations, this is why we have these rules or these fees, there’s a better sense of understanding,” said Jackie Rocco, the city’s parking operations manager. “They don’t always like it but they understand why the rule is there.”
WEHOville asked Delgado and Rocco for answers to some of the most frequently asked parking ticket related questions.
Big revenue: The city makes $4 million annually from parking meters and $8.5 million annually from parking tickets. But that’s not all profit for the city.
Of the $4 million in parking meter money, the city only keeps about $3.75 million as it has an $188,000 contract with the city of Beverly Hills to collect the meter money and an $89,000 contract with the city of Glendale for meter maintenance.
In case you’re wondering, the extended meter hours are expected to generate an addition $1 million per year.
Of the $8.5 million in parking tickets, the city only keeps about $3 million. The $5.5 million the city pays out for ticket-related services is as follows:
- $25,000 for adjudication services goes to Judy Sherman, who has had the contract to hear ticket appeals since 2012.
- $1 million for citation processing goes to Xerox Corporation, which has had that contract since 2009.
- $2 million for parking enforcement goes to the Reston, VA-based Serco, Inc., which has had the contract since 1992.
- $2.5 million goes to the State of California. The state gets $12.50 of every ticket written, regardless of the amount of the ticket.
Most common tickets: You’re most likely to get cited for having an expired meter or parking in a permit district without the proper permit. Here’s a breakdown of the top tickets and the price those tickets bring:
- Expired meter – $53
- Permit parking – $58
- Street cleaning (not moving car during street cleaning hours) — $63
- Parking on grades (not curbing your wheels on a hill) – $23
- No front license plates – $25 (can be reduced to $10 if proof of correction is submitted).
Quotas: While some think parking enforcement agents give out more tickets at the end of the month to meet their quota, that’s a myth, says Delgado. It’s also a myth that the city specifies a certain number of tickets be written each month. Delgado says the California Vehicle Code forbids quotas.
“The only thing that we stress to Serco is consistency,” Delgado said. “They enforce equally throughout the month.”
Commission: The city pays Serco a flat fee. The Serco employees don’t get commissions and thus don’t have any incentive for writing more tickets.
Serco employs 32 people in its West Hollywood office at 8235 Santa Monica Blvd. at Harper — 26 parking enforcement officers, four supervisors and two administrative staffers. They work in three shifts daily; one supervisor and 4-5 officers on each shift.
Conflicting signage: Say you park at a space at 7 p.m. and the info on the meter says it’s enforced until 8 p.m. but the sign on the meter post or a nearby pole says the meter is enforced until 6 p.m. Should you feed the meter or not?
To be safe, Rocco said, “Always go with the most restrictive sign.”
Delgado adds that conflicting signage is unlikely because the city just finished changing all the signs in town to reflect the extended hours. But in case there is a conflict, you can contest the ticket.
“In our city, if we have conflicting signs, we always give it to them,” said Delgado. “I can’t speak to how other cities handle it, but here we give it to you.”
Broken meters: West Hollywood has never ticketed people for parking at broken meters, although other cities, including Los Angeles, have. However, starting Jan. 1, 2014, it will be illegal in the state of California for cities to ticket you for being parked at a broken meter for the legally allowed time limit. Sacramento passed that law to encourage cities to fix their meters rather than gouge people for meters that stay broken.
Since West Hollywood installed credit-card-reading parking meters last year, very few meters have broken. Those that do are quickly fixed since they can be detected by computer easily, according to Delgado.
But in the case of a broken meter ticket, Delgado says to contest it and the city will check the records to confirm it isn’t working. If the meter was broken any part of that day, the city will tear up the ticket. It’s a myth that people try to deliberately break a meter to get free parking. State studies have found that doesn’t often happen.
Be sure to observe the posted time limits when parking at a broken meter however. If it has a two-hour time limit, and you’re parked there for three hours, you can still get ticketed there. The city won’t throw out a ticket for parking over the posted time limit even if the meter is broken.
Parking over the red line: The red zone on the curb means parking is not allowed in that section. Many people think that as long as your wheels aren’t in the red zone, you’re good to park there, but that’s not the case. If the bumper of the car is hanging over the red zone, you can get ticketed.
“Don’t let any part of your car be in the red zone and you’ll be okay,” Rocco said.
Flashers: If you’re going to a party where the host has visitor parking passes for guests, just put your car’s flashers on while you go grab the pass and place it on your windshield. Parking enforcement won’t ticket you. However, if an enforcement agent comes back around later and the flashers are still on and there’s no guest pass displayed on the dashboard, you will be ticketed.
Cameras: The hand-held devices that print out the parking tickets also come equipped with cameras. When parking enforcement agents issue a ticket, they frequently take a time-stamped photo of the car in question. So, say you get a ticket for not curbing your wheels or for being in a two-hour residential zone longer than two hours. If you try to contest the ticket, it’s not just your word against the meter officer. It can be verified with a photo.
Contesting tickets: Tickets must be paid or contested (in person, online, by mail or by telephone) within 21 days of issuance. If not paid within that time, the ticket fine doubles. If not paid within another 21 days, the price goes up again and the ticket is reported to the State of California. The next time you try to register your car, the Department of Motor Vehicles will make you pay the outstanding ticket first.
If money is too tight within the first 21 days to pay the ticket, contesting it will buy you additional time without the fine doubling.
Your right to contest a ticket ends after 21 days. If your ticket isn’t dismissed on the initial review, you can request an administrative hearing with the adjudicator. Be sure to bring any supporting evidence with you to the hearing (photographs, change of ownership papers, etc.). If the ticket is not dismissed by the adjudicator, then it must be paid. You cannot appeal a ticket a second time.
All the information about contesting a ticket is included on the back of the ticket and on the city’s website.