You complain about the omnipresent parking ninjas in L.A. And, yes, they suck.
But somebody's getting away with not paying their tickets (and it sure isn't us). Public employees with special plates that mask their addresses have basically been off-the-hook for ticket payments. And the city hasn't bee too good at dealing with challenges to parking violations, either.
According to L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel's latest audit of city parking enforcement and the Department of Transportation, officials aren't properly collecting taxpayer cash — to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here's what her office said today in a statement:
Due to DOTs inability to investigate contested citations within their own required 240 day time period, valid tickets are being dismissed, and unnecessarily costing the city money. The audit found City failed to collect $557,000 in administrative fees and penalties related to expired registrations stickers and vehicles with no evidence of registration, $328,000 of which could have been money in the City's coffers.
Of course, at a time when we're giving a billionaire $52 million to build a parking lot — while the city is looking at a $334-million deficit and fire stations are being closed — this is small fries.
But we commend Greuel for looking under every couch cushion for cash.
“We can't afford to leave money on the table when it comes to collecting revenue,” she said.
“Protective plate holders” — those public officials allowed to get plates that hide their information from police and parking officers — have basically had a get-out-of-jail free card when it comes to parking tickets, Greuel's office states:
“Not having the list of contacts at these public agencies is no excuse. Protective plates
are intended are to protect privacy for the safety of certain public employees — not a 'get
out of jail free' card for parking violators,” said Greuel.
Oops. Greuel found the city even pays its parking ticket contractor even for tickets that are voided —
$440 million [correction]: $440,000 worth.
“Paying for tickets that are nonexistent is ridiculous and an unnecessary waste of
money,” Greuel said.
It's ridiculous, and it could pay for firefighter or two.