The cash-strapped City of Los Angeles is apparently letting lots of parking scofflaws off the hook.
A new audit by LA City Controller Wendy Greuel claims the city Department of Transportation has failed to collect an estimated $15 million in unpaid parking tickets.
The audit accuses the LADOT of not aggressively pursuing drivers who skip out on paying parking tickets.
Most of these drivers are described in the report as "repeat offenders."
Greuel told a news conference that tougher enforcement in these cases might have generated as much as $9.2 million.
Los Angeles traffic officers have the authority to "boot" or impound vehicles with five or more unpaid parking tickets, but the audit alleged the transportation department failed to use license plate recognition equipment designed to catch repeat offenders.
Greuel claimed failure to use this technology potentially costs the city more than $5 million.
Some offenders have as many as 20 unpaid parking tickets and the audit said just slapping another ticket on their windshields will not prompt these drivers to pay up.
The Interim LADOT General Manager defended his department even though it disbanded its special unit tasked with going after scofflaws.
Amir Sedadi said the unit was disbanded in order to fill 50 vacancies in its crew of civilian traffic officers.
He says putting more staff on general enforcement enabled the department to meet its parking ticket revenue projections for 2009-2010.
Sedadi added his department has impounded more than 12,600 scofflaw vehicles in the last 13 months.
LADOT Chief of Parking Enforcement Jimmy Price said the pool of scofflaw vehicles is shrinking and going after them is "looking for a needle in a haystack."
But countered Greuel, in light of the budget deficit, "we must ensure that we are enforcing the laws on the books and that no opportunities for collecting revenues are missed."