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Are parking ticket fines in Los Angeles too high?

Pretty good for the wide-angle piece of plastic known as the <a href="">GoPro Hero</a>.
Karen/flickr Creative Commons
Pretty good for the wide-angle piece of plastic known as the <a href="">GoPro Hero</a>.

Have you ever gotten hit with a parking ticket for failing to feed a meter?

At least one LA group says those parking ticket fines are too high in Los Angeles and is working to change things.

Members of the LA Parking Freedom Initiative are pushing proposals to reform how the city manages parking.

Steven Vincent helped found the group last year and says fees for simple violations are too exorbitant. He says right now fines for an expired meter are $63. “And that’s about a days wage for someone working at or near minimum wage,” he said. “We just don’t think that’s a reasonable standard.” He says the median pay in the LA region is $23 an hour. So he proposes capping the parking meter fine at $23.

Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed a working group to study the issue, and it held its first meeting Thursday. The mayor has said he is interested in reforming the city’s parking and enforcement policies. The working group includes business owners, neighborhood council representatives, LA Department of Transportation representatives and some members of the LA Parking Freedom Initiative.

A spokeswoman for Garcetti, Vicki Curry issued a statement saying,  “We know that parking tickets are frustrating for Angelenos.” She said the mayor’s office wants to “look at ways to apply technology to help people find parking and avoid tickets.”

Members of the LA Parking Freedom Initiative say if this effort fails to reform how parking is handled in Los Angeles, they will take the issue to voters via a ballot initiative next March.

Vincent says parking fines are a growing city revenue stream. And he says that’s not what parking policy should be about. “Are you trying facilitate commerce, ease of transit and mobility for citizens and businesses? Or are you trying to get as much money off the street as possible,” he said. “We think under the current system it is the later.”

Parking fines have grown to about 160-million dollars or about three percent of the city’s general fund.

Vincent has other suggestions for helping people park legally. “There shouldn’t be a totem pole of confusing signs,” he said. “We really need to have clearer signing and that would be mandated under our proposal.” He said “each sign needs to be specifically designed to communicate the rules clearly to the public.”

He also said officers should be required to ask a driver to move out of a red zone first, before coming up from behind and just –gotcha--writing a ticket.