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Housing and Homelessness

Parking Ticket Waivers Help LA’s Unhoused. California May Follow Suit

a close up shot of a parking ticket envelope on the windshield of a car. The parking ticket envelope is white envelope with red letters say City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles CA.
"Forgiving people of parking tickets won't solve homelessness, but it's a step," says Isaac Bryan, the state Assemblymember working to get the bill passed.
(Chava Sanchez
/
LAist)
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A statewide bill modeled after a successful program in Los Angeles would require all local jurisdictions to create a parking ticket relief program for people experiencing homelessness.

Unhoused people, especially those living in a car, often rack up parking citations, which when left unpaid can lead to mounting debt, impounded vehicles, and the loss of a driver’s license. All of that can make climbing out of homelessness even harder.

“It exacerbates homelessness. We gotta quit criminalizing poverty if you really care about getting people off the street,” said Isaac Bryan, the state Assemblymember working to get the bill passed. Bryan represents neighborhoods that include Culver City, Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, and parts of South L.A. and Inglewood.

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AB 1685 would forgive up to $1,500 in unpaid parking fees statewide for people experiencing homelessness. It’s modeled after the city of L.A.’s Community Assistance Parking Program, or CAPP.

In L.A., people experiencing homelessness must do community service in exchange for the waiver. Immigration status does not matter, and people who apply can choose from a pre-approved list of service providers that work with CAPP.

But if you thought you were about to call CAPP claiming you’re unhoused to get your parking tickets waived, think again. To get approved, you have to provide documentation from a service provider proving that you are experiencing homelessness.

There are roughly 66,000 people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County, according to a 2020 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority count. Many people use a vehicle as a last safe haven for shelter. Having a vehicle also allows people to access public services, go to appointments with case managers, and retain employment to support themselves.

LAHSA’s 2020 count found nearly 19,000 people living in a vehicle on any given night. The 2022 count will start next week.

Numbers from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation don’t show whether the recipient of a citation is someone experiencing homelessness, but to date, the CAPP program has waived payment of 5,310 citations, according to Colin Sweeney, LADOT’s public information director. For people experiencing homelessness, that’s a total of roughly $857,000 in fines.

As of January, an additional 791 citations were expected to be waived pending completion of community service requirements, Sweeney said.

Parking tickets aren’t exactly lucrative for L.A. Bryan said jurisdictions aren’t able to recoup the fees in many instances. And Crosstown LA recently found that parking and traffic enforcement cost the city of L.A. $192 million more than it generated in fines over the last five years.