Give More Expensive Parking Tickets to Repeat Violators, Says UCLA Professor

As "parking guru," UCLA's Donald Shoup is credited with influencing how cities shape their parking policies to improve mobility and neighborhoods. But today in the LA Times, he goes after a different angle in parking: tickets.

Shoup notes that many of the total tickets given out during a year are given to the same people. "In Los Angeles, for example, 8% of all the license plates that received tickets in 2009 accounted for 29% of all the tickets in that year," he said. "In Beverly Hills, 5% of license plates accounted for 24% of all tickets."

The problem is that repeat violators often take up spaces, lanes (double parking) and handicap zones, making it harder for law-abiding drivers to find a space in some busy areas. And if parking is difficult, local businesses can suffer. Shoup says most people never or rarely get tickets, but increasing fines -- something Los Angeles has done twice in recent years to help the budget crisis -- punishes everyone. Instead, he opines, gradually raise fines for repeat violators.

One of Shoup's most important points is to create better relations between the public, parking officers and city hall. If parking tickets are primarily seen as a city fundraiser, it creates tension, but if they are seen as an effective enforcement model, more people will get behind the concept. Ideally, for minor infractions like overtime parking, the first violation would be a warning instead of a citation. "The warnings show citizens that the city aims to encourage compliance rather than to raise revenue," he explained. "Flat-rate parking fines are like treating hardened criminals and first-time offenders equally."

Question is, will there ever be a day in L.A. where a motion to lower parking fines and institute this sort of system be approved?