L.A. Is Now Treating Scalpers Like Gang Members
That guy with the cardboard sign yelling "Tickets!" is on par with a gangbanger. At least that's the message City Attorney Carmen Trutanich sent with an announcement yesterday that Los Angeles will institute the nation's first-ever scalper injunction. What that means is that "known scalpers" -- 17 of them in particular, whose names you can see at the bottom of this post -- will be preemptively banned from plying their trade at specific venues and associating with each other. This tactic is more commonly used against gang members, preventing them from congregating in particular areas, or with particular people.
Trutanich, who is known for taking a hard line on minor offenders like street artists and political demonstrators, announced that the injunction sites include Staples Center and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site of Bruce Springsteen and Roger Waters shows earlier this year. (It's also where he made the announcement.)
"The activities of illegal ticket sellers threaten public safety by interfering with traffic and diverting valuable police resources from crimes of violence," Trutanich said in a statement. "These scalpers also rip-off unsuspecting fans, hurt legitimate businesses, and fail to pay taxes owed to the city -- which ultimately harms all city residents."
Though this logic sounds counter-intuitive -- after all, won't enforcement require more police enforcement? -- Trutanich's spokesman Frank Mateljan insists that the tactic will preserve police resources in that they wouldn't have to spend as much time patrolling these venues.
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L.A.'s injunction targets 17 repeat scalpers who, Trutanich says, have been arrested a total of 95 times since 2008. Those sellers are ordered to stay away from Staples Center, L.A. Live, Dodger Stadium, the Coliseum, and the Galen Center, and are prohibited from "associating with other illegal ticket sellers."
AEG, which owns Staples Center, supports the legislation.
"Our fans deserve to walk from the parking lots to Staples Center with out being harassed," says spokesman Michael Roth.
In the past, Roth goes on, fans have paid exorbitant amounts for tickets to sold-out events, like the Kings' playoff games in June, only to be turned down at the door because the tickets are counterfeit or stolen.
The city attorney isn't the only one striking back at scalpers -- artists and festival organizers are experimenting with a variety of methods to make sure fans are paying a fair price.
In June, comedian Louis C.K. made tickets to his nationwide tour available only to people who paid to download a stand-up special he'd released on the Internet months earlier.
Organizers of Burning Man, which sold out for the first time last year, attempted to combat the practice by instituting a lottery system. It backfired when more than 80,000 people entered it (20,000 more than the festival is permitted for) leaving many longtime Burners ticketless, and a slew of tickets for sale on StubHub and Craigslist at ten times their value.
On Monday, the organizers of Burning Man announced they have compiled a list of tickets being sold for more than face value, and would be voiding those tickets. Suckers who bought them can nonetheless get help from festival organizers, who insist "our intention is not to screw over the buyers in this process, but rather to make sure they DON'T get screwed."
Burning Man appears to be taking the hippie parent route:
Scalpers are told the ticket has been voided and are offered a refund since they can't sell it anymore...It's also made clear to them that if they DID sell it, they should arrange to give a refund to the buyer, since they are now responsible for having sold something that is not good for its intended purpose.
We wish them luck with that strategy.
Below: The text of the injunction, including the list of 17 "known scalpers."
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