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Is It Time For The City To Rethink The Way It Gives Parking Tickets?

The kindness of strangers (Photo by Mary Lindsay via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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By Diego Rentería

No one likes parking tickets, but over the last few years there have been serious complaints about the steadily increasing fines and the private company that handles the tickets for Los Angeles.

Now the contract for the private company that runs the Parking Violations Bureau is up for review—and just in time for the mayor's race. This is leading some folks to wonder whether now is the time to rethink the city's approach to parking tickets, which critics contend balances the city's budget on the backs of mostly lower-income residents and renters.

Los Angeles has boosted parking fines consistently over the last seven years. Just last year, street sweeping citations increased $5 to $73. Mayor Villaraigosa even suggested increasing the street sweeping citation to $78 as a way to further cover the city’s budget deficit.

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Critics take issue with the way Xerox collects those fines. Some residents argue that Xerox protects revenue from parking violations by holding up appeals and other tactics. Jeff Galter, of Atwater Village, filed a class-action suit last month claiming Xerox does not seriously consider appeals of parking citations and responds with form letters rejecting those appeals. To add insult to injury, appeals to the DOT often result in Xerox charging late fees. (The editor of Hidden LA shared her own nightmarish tale of fighting a ticket.)

But staff in the Department of Transportation recently recommended a five-year contract extension for Xerox. (So far the city’s contract with Xerox State and Local Solutions cost Los Angeles $86 million over the last five years.)

The Los Angeles Times asked mayoral candidates at a forum last week whether now was the time for Los Angeles and Xerox to part ways. Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Jan Perry, and Emanuel Pleitez said they would closely look at Xerox’s contract before deciding to extend its contract. Only Kevin James came out and said he opposed a contract extension for Xerox.

Are Street Sweeping Tickets a Tax on Renters?