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Parking Citations Audit Reveals Missed Revenue, Fees On Voided Tickets, VIP Treatment 'Gold Card Desk'

Photo by Atwater Village Newbie via LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr, Used with permission
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City Controller Greuel released the second in a series audits of the LADOT parking citation process revealing massive oversights, missed revenue, questionable policies and special treatment, according to a statement from her office.

According to the release, in revenue findings:

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. Over a two year period, DOT issued approximately 5.7 million citations over two fiscal years from 2008 to 2010. Approximately one third of citations are paid in full upon the motorists’ receipt of the citation on their vehicle’s windshield. However, $272 million in parking citations over a five year period needs to be written off because it is no longer eligible for collections. “If the Department is issuing tickets but not collecting outstanding citations, we clearly have a larger problem,” stated Controller Greuel. “If motorists can get away without paying tickets, we can’t expect them to change their law-breaking behavior either.

Additionally, the audit found the City lost potential revenue by not pursuing collections from "public employees who are exempted from having their address appear in DMV’s records." A safeguard for privacy, protective plates are "not a ‘get out of jail free’ card for parking violators,” said Controller Greuel. It was also revealed that since 2006, LADOT has paid over $440,000 in fees related to voided citations.

And then there's the "Gold Card Desk," a special service for the Mayor and Council "to expedite the review of parking citations." The audit revealed that DOT cancelled approximately 1,000 tickets without much policy, explanation, or paper trail during the 2-year audit process. Controller Greuel was reportedly not aware during her time as a Councilmember, and surprised to learn of the VIP Gold Card Desk process.

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Controller Greuel commented, “You shouldn’t need political pull to expedite the investigation of a ticket. There ought to be a fair and equal process for examination of all contested citations.” She is calling for DOT to shut down the Gold Card Desk altogether.

The mayor's office, however, is saying that Greuel had been informed of the Gold Card Desk while on the council, and points to a DOT report, documents from 2007 about briefing members of her field staff and a PowerPoint presentation in 2008, reports the L.A. Times.

"As chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee then-Councilmember Greuel was briefed on all aspects of the department's operations and was fully aware of the Gold Card Desk," said the email from Villaraigosa's office. "For example, in 2007 and 2008, LADOT staff briefed the Mayor's and City Council field offices about the parking citation process as well as the adjudication process so that they provided better service to our constituents."