Parking enforcement officers in Palmdale are making a "naughty or nice" list of their own this holiday season as they scan the ranks of weary drivers who keep their cool while searching for scarce parking spaces amid throngs of shoppers, tourists and fellow Angelenos.
Polite parkers will receive Good Parking Tickets, meant to spread holiday cheer and, maybe, change habits.
The "citations" come with gift cards from the Yard House or the Body Shop. All recipients will be entered into a drawing to win one of five annual parking good at the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy area, including several beaches, and valued at $450.
So, what do you have to do to earn a Good Parking Ticket?
Stay out of fire lanes – even if you just have to run in quickly to, say, drop off a rented movie – and don’t creep into other drivers’ parking spots, to name a few examples.
"We’re looking for, for example, a large vehicle with a mom that has a lot of kids that goes back and forth in the parking space to make sure they’re in the lines," said Dulce Gomez, parking enforcement supervisor, who has issued about 10 of the sought-after parking tickets.
Until Dec. 24, parking enforcement officers will keep their eyes peeled for deserving drivers during their usual patrols around the city.
The not-so ominous version of the white parking ticket usually tucked into drivers’ windshields will be personally delivered.
"It’s an in-person ticket," Gomez said. "After we watch them make these exemplary moves, we advise them so they know they’re being rewarded."
"Normally, at first, people are shocked that we are making contact with them to begin with," Gomez said, adding that drivers usually assume they’re about to get in trouble, but that fear quickly dissipates with a little explanation.
The experiment in positive reinforcement began last December, when officers doled out more than 50 Good Parking Tickets. Officers were looking for a way to remind drivers to be courteous to each other and "remember, they’re not the only ones on the road," Gomez said.
"The holiday season can be stressful," she added.
While it’s still too soon to notice if parking habits have changed as a result, Gomez said the project seems to be working.
"We’ve already had some parents or other citizens come up and ask us, 'Hey, what do I need to do to get this Good Parking Ticket?'"