The City is Out Of Touch With its People

City Controller Wendy Greul proudly announces that the city should be towing more civilian vehicles

Last month, I received an email from the new Los Angeles City Controller. Thinking she was doing a good job, auditing the performance of the LA Department of Transportation’s Parking Enforcement, she sent out the following email. Read her notice and my response and let me know what you think!

City Controller E-mail:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2011

CITY CONTROLLER RELEASES REVIEW OF CITY’S ENFORCEMENT OF “SCOFFLAW” PARKING REGULATIONS
Taxpayer Dollars Wasted Because of Inadequate Scofflaw Enforcement Efforts

(LOS ANGELES) – Continuing her efforts to reduce waste and save money in City government, City Controller Wendy Greuel released a review of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s parking citation scofflaw enforcement activities which found the Department failed to adhere to its own action plan, resulting in a decline in enforcement and loss of $5.4million in potential revenue. The investigation, which was conducted as a result of a tipster’s report to Controller’s Waste, Fraud and Abuse Unit, revealed that by failing to report or impound over 73% of vehicles that already received more than 5 unpaid parking citations, the DOT may have lost as much as another $9.2 million.
“This review revealed significant issues of waste and financially irresponsible decisions by LADOT, which in some cases defy common sense,” said City Controller Greuel, “We cannot allow scofflaws to get away with ignoring the laws of our city. It has a material effect on the city’s financial well being and is unfair to the rest of the law abiding citizens of Los Angeles.”
LADOT traffic officers have the authority to impound or immobilize (boot) vehicles with 5 or more delinquent parking citations for failure to pay outstanding citations, also known as a “scofflaw”. As of September 2010, the uncollected balance for vehicles having 5 or more open citations issued by LADOT was $86 million of which $18.8 million of that amount is eligible for scofflaw enforcement.
The loss of $5.4 million stems from LADOTs decision to not deploy specialized License Plate Recognition (LPR) equipment and essentially disbanding a specialized unit of traffic officers who used LPR technology to focus on scofflaw enforcement. Using specialized enforcement, officers averaged $1,599 in citations per workday, compared to $927 per day for standard operations. As a result, total scofflaw enforcement declined significantly along with the use of this equipment.
A more troubling finding is that LADOT failed to report 73.5% of scofflaw alerts meaning that, despite having the technology to indicate that a vehicle had at least 5 – and as many as 20 – outstanding parking violations, another citation was left on the scofflaw’s windshield rather than reporting the vehicle for impound or boot. This practice not only allows repeat violators to continue to violate the law, it also defers potential revenue and increases the likelihood that no revenue will ever be generated for those vehicles.
“I find it egregious that these flagrant violators are simply being issued another ticket when it’s likely that those scofflaws with as many as 20+ unpaid violations are not planning to renew their vehicle registration and pay up their tickets any time soon, if ever,” said Controller Greuel. “We cannot afford to wait on these revenues owed to us, nor can we expect those who scoff at our laws to become law abiding citizens. We must insist that the Department use the tools and authority to enforce these laws and hold them accountable for doing so.”
My response:

Subject: Re: CITY CONTROLLER RELEASES REVIEW OF CITY’S ENFORCEM ENT OF “SCOFFLAW” PARKING REGULATIONS

This press release is shameful. I applaud the LADOT for not towing 73% of “eligible” vehicles with 5 parking citations or more. I’m not sure if Controller Greuel is aware of this, but during this economic recession Los Angeles residents have been hit hard. Averaging at 12% and as high as 20% in some California counties, it is shameful to try to push for increases expenses for residents who may not be able to afford it.  Having your car impounded is an expensive matter for the car owner. 
Unemployment is not the only factor–many small business are barely making ends meet and now have to worry about paying $500 and up to the DOT? This is worthy press release? I think your priorities need to reevaluated.

Where is the press release for small business incentives? Where is the press release with new jobs created for LA County residents?
Shame.
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