The California Court of Appeal has ordered the City of Los Angeles to change the way it handles parking ticket disputes. A three-judge panel said the city can no longer outsource the handling of the initial reviews of parking tickets requested by motorists, but must do those reviews themselves.
"If people want to fight a ticket that was wrongly issued, they don’t have a real means of doing that as of today," said Caleb Marker, an attorney with Zimmerman Reed who sued the city on behalf of driver Cody Weiss, who claimed the city’s system for handling parking ticket disputes was unfair.
As the NBC4 I-Team revealed years ago, the City of Los Angeles hires private contractors, including Xerox and PRWT, to handle the initial review of ticket disputes.
In a brief filed with the Appellate Court, Weiss’ lawyers claimed that the private contractors were given a quota of handling 20 ticket disputes per hour.
“We don’t believe it’s fair the way it’s administered right now through PRWT and Xerox; they only allow their employees three minutes to review a single parking ticket challenge,” said Marker.
“The system is rigged,” says Shawn Nee, another driver who fought a parking ticket for blocking a driveway. Nee sent in photos and video showing his car was not blocking the driveway, but his appeal was denied, with a form letter. Only after taking a day off from work to attend a hearing, did Nee get his ticket thrown out.
The system could soon change. The appeals court’s decision, handed down this week, says the state vehicle code requires cities, not outside contractors, to conduct all initial reviews of parking tickets. While the city can still appeal the case to the California Supreme Court, Marker is confident that the city will begin doing its own reviews by the end of the year.
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“It might make things a little more transparent and more fair, which is something residents of the city need in regards to fighting their parking tickets,” said Shawn Nee.
The decision by the Court of Appeal could affect many other California cities who also outsource handling of ticket disputes.
In response to the Court’s decision, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office told NBC4 in a statement, “We are currently reviewing our appellate options.”
Calls by the I-Team to Xerox and PRWT were not returned.
The NBC4 I-team has been investigating LA’s parking ticket system for years. This week, the I-Team is revealing parking ticket “hot zones,” the places you’re most likely to get a ticket. You can find out where those hot zones are by clicking on the I-Team tab at the top of the page.