Los Angeles judge questions city’s parking ticket procedures

| July 28, 2014

A judge has issued a tentative decision in a procedural challenge to how the city of Los Angeles handles its parking tickets. At the moment, public employees issue the citations, but Xerox (which has a contract with the city) processes them. A subcontractor to Xerox then reviews challenges to the tickets.

Plaintiff Cody Weiss inadvertently called the process into question when he filed a lawsuit after his appeal for reconsideration was rejected. The driver received a citation claiming that he had exceeded the limit at a two-hour parking spot, but Weiss challenged the ticket, saying that he had moved his car before time expired. He chose to sue after learning that the city contracted the first step of the appeal process to another company.

Parking ticket in LA

Plaintiffs have long argued that Los Angeles’s arrangement with private subcontractors makes it unfairly difficult to contest parking tickets – and now a judge agrees. From Michael Dorausch.

Weiss’s attorney argued that there is an “inherent conflict of interest” between Xerox and PRWT Services, claiming that the latter required its staff to process “20 pieces of correspondence per hour,” including initial reviews of ticket appeals. In the legal complaint, Marker alleged that the requirement gave employees approximately three minutes to review each appeal.

In a tentative decision, Judge James Chalfant ignored Weiss’s original claim, instead citing state law in his assessment that the city had improperly assigned ticket reviews to contractors. He wrote that Los Angeles must “conduct the initial review, and it may not delegate that task to its processing agency, Xerox.”

Neither the city and its transportation department nor representatives for Xerox have issued responses, but critics of Los Angeles’s parking ticket system (which has come under heavy fire in recent months) rejoiced at the news. “If people are denied the first time, they sort of assume they’re going to be denied the next time,” Steven Vincent, who founded the Parking Freedom Initiative (PFI), told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month. The grassroots group is behind a city-ballot initiative that seeks to reform parking enforcement in Los Angeles, such as capping parking-ticket fines at $23.

“People feel this current system just isn’t giving them a fair shake,” said Vincent. “The whole process needs to be give a really thorough look.”

Actor Jeff Galfer has contributed to that effort with a class action lawsuit against the city, Xerox, and the local transportation department, alleging unfair business practices. Filed in 2012, the suit continues to wend its way through the courts, but its filing has only shown a brighter light on the city’s parking-enforcement tactics.

In the spring, Mayor Eric Garcetti and his administration responded to the scrutiny by forming a working group, which includes members of the PFI, to explore the issues.

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Category: Municipal, Parking management

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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