As a courier, Richard Brown spends a lot of time in downtown Los Angeles. And, when he parks near the city's famous Flower Market, he gets a lot of tickets.
"They got more parking enforcement around here than police," said Brown. "It's like they are watching me."
Brown isn't simply unlucky. Unbeknownst to him, he's parking his car in one of the city's "Hot Zones." These are neighborhoods where motorists are far more likely to get parking tickets.
Local news from across Southern California
"If they're going to do it, they should do it all around. Do it equally," said Brown.
But that's not what's happening, according to an NBC4 I-Team analysis of more than 9 million parking tickets written since 2012 by Los Angeles Parking Enforcement officers.
The I-Team discovered that of the nearly 361,00 blocks in Los Angeles, nearly one out of five parking tickets are handed out on just 500 blocks. That's one-tenth of one percent of city streets.
"Low hanging fruit. It's easy, it's cost effective," explained Jay Carsman, LA's Parking Systems Coordinator for 23 years.
He helped create and run LA's parking ticket program until he retired in 2008.
"I think they've turned it into a giant money making endeavor," said Carsman.
Last year, the City of Los Angeles made more than $150 million from parking fines. Many of these tickets were given out on a few key streets, such as San Vincente Boulevard in Brentwood, Larchmont Boulevard in Larchmont Village and Washington Boulevard next to the beach in Venice.
"I just hate to see the people who live there and work there being abused so badly," said Carsman.
The I-Team showed its research to Los Angeles Parking Enforcement's Deputy Chief Brian Hale. He said despite what the NBC4 data appears to suggest, his department enforces the entire city when looking for violations.
"If the violations are occurring in the area, then we are going to be out there and enforcing it, doing our job," said Hale.
That's not what the I-Team found when we did a test -- parking a car at expired meters in two different parts of town. It took 18 minutes to get a parking ticket on heavily patrolled Larchmont Boulevard. The same car sat for more than four hours at an expired meter on Vanowen Street in Van Nuys. It was never ticketed, even though LA Parking Enforcement drove past the expired meter two times during that four hour period.
"I don't know, without further investigation, as to why," said Hale.
The parking ticket data NBC4 analyzed shows that only 37 tickets have been written for that block of Vanowen Street since 2012. More than 19,000 tickets were given out on that block of Larchmont Boulevard during that same period.
Motorists like Richard Brown say it isn't fair.
"I feel like I'm getting ripped off," said Brown.
In front of LA's Flower market, down the street from where Brown was ticketed for the third time in recent months, Leonor Gutierrez and her aunt Yolanda Lopez of Camarillo came back to find a ticket on their windshield after shopping at the Flower Market.
"I'm angry because I don't think it's fair," said Lopez. "It's just one minute, not even one minute."
The women were standing by their car when a Parking Enforcement Officer wrote their ticket. Their meter had just expired.
"There's no reason for me to come out here if it's going to cost me more," explains Gutierrez.
Visitors to the heart of Hollywood are also at higher risk of getting ticketed. The iconic LA area is by far the most heavily ticketed region in the city. More than 130,000 tickets have been issued to motorists parked in the heart of Hollywood since 2012.
Jay Beeber, the head of the LA Parking Freedom Initiative, has been pushing to reform the city's ticket system for years.
"People are being targeted," said Beeber. "People are not going to go back to those areas to shop. They are going to go elsewhere."
You can review all of the Parking Ticket Hot Zones by visiting the NBC4 Parking Ticket Hot Zone digital section below.
About the Data
The NBC4 I-Team obtained and analyzed data from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation for all parking tickets issued in Los Angeles in the last four years -- that's more than 9 million tickets. We were able to identify LA's Parking Ticket Hot Zones: the neighborhoods where you’re most likely to get ticketed.
That's because LA Parking Enforcement issues roughly one in seven tickets in just 300 city blocks, out of the more than 361,000 blocks that make up the entire city. That means if you park on the street on one those 300 blocks, you run a much greater risk of being ticketed.
Parking Tickets Hot Zone Maps
To make you aware of these parking ticket hot zones, NBC4 has created maps of the areas where motorists are receiving the most tickets. Many of the hot zones consist of several streets that make up popular business or shopping districts.
Parking Ticket Hot Zone Dirty Dozen
Here are the 12 parking ticket hot zones for the city of Los Angeles and the number of tickets issued at each location. The tickets were issued from July 1, 2012 to April 30, 2016.
The Top 100 Streets
Most of the top parking ticket hot zones consist of multiple streets in the same area. But if you park on certain individual streets, you are more likely to get tickets.
Here are the top 100 streets for parking tickets.
Worst Days of the Year for Getting Around
The I-Team's analysis of parking ticket data revealed some of the worst days of the year for getting a parking ticket. Over the last four years, 2012 to 2016, the LA Department of Transportation has issued more than 9 million parking tickets.
Below, the days on which more than 9,000 parking tickets were issued
Top Ticket Violations
Fifty percent of Los Angeles parking tickets are for only two violations. Over the last four years, these are the violations for which the most citations were given.
5 Things to Know About Avoiding a Ticket
1. Even if you're parked illegally -- at an expired meter, during street cleaning hours, or in a red zone -- an officer must let you leave without issuing a citation if you're willing to move your car before the officer starts writing the ticket.
2. Your tires must be within the lines of a public parking spot. A tire on, or over, the lines, such as the vehicle pictured on the right, can get you ticketed.
3. You cannot park longer than the posted time on a street. Even if you feed the meter more than the posted time, you could get a ticket
4. The front passenger side of this vehicle is beyond the slope, or "apron," of a driveway. Even if you're not blocking the driveway, being near the slope can you get ticketed.
5. Your car must be no more than 18 inches from the curb, or you could get ticketed. This vehicle is within the required distance.
How to Appeal a Parking Ticket
If you've received a parking ticket and you don't feel it was warranted, you can challenge the ticket. The process can take time but according to the I-Team's analysis of LADOT data, around 40 percent of the time an initial review determines the ticket is invalid. If you request a hearing, your chances of being found "not liable" are around 20-25 percent.
Here is how you appeal a parking ticket:
Step 1: Request an Administrative Review
You can do this online, by calling 866-561-9742 during normal business hours and at one of these four LA Department of Transportation locations.
Downtown Los Angeles: 312 W 2nd Street
Mid-Wilshire District: 3333 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 3337
West Los Angeles: 1575 Westwood Blvd., Suite 100B
Van Nuys: 6309 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 103
You also can submit a request for review by mail: Parking Violations Bureau, P.O. Box 30247, Los Angeles, CA 90030
If you want to submit evidence or supporting documentation, you can only appeal in person or by mail. You request for an administrative review must be received (not just submitted) within 21 days of receiving the ticket, or within 14 days from the mailing date of the first overdue notice.
A representative of LADOT will conduct the review to determine the following:
1. Did the violation actually occur
2. Is the registered owner of the vehicle responsible
3. Are there extenuating circumstances
A decision will be mailed to you once the Review is complete.
Step 2: Request an Administrative Hearing
If the administrative review determines that your parking ticket is valid, you can request a hearing. State law requires that you pay all of the fines owed for a parking ticket before you can request an administrative hearing. You must make this request within 21 days of the date of the administrative review decision. This is not the date you received the letter, but the date that is printed on the letter. If you miss this deadline, you will be unable to request an administrative hearing.
Click here to request a hearing online. See the phone number, locations and mailing address in the section above for other options.
You will be given a date for your hearing at one of the four LADOT locations. You can appear in person or send a written declaration explain what happened. A hearing officer will review your case and provide you with an opportunity to explain why the ticket should be dismissed. You may also have an opportunity to provide additional evidence. A decision will be mailed to you within 7 to 10 days of the hearing. If you are found not liable for your ticket, you will be issued a refund within 30 days of the decision.
Q&A With LADOT
We asked to Los Angeles Department of Transportation to explain why they appear to be targeting certain areas, while virtually ignoring most blocks in the city. Here are some of the most common questions we've received from our viewers and the answers from LA Parking Enforcement and Traffic Control Deputy Chief Brian Hale.
Reporting: Joel Grover and Matthew Glasser
Data Editor: Ron Campbell
Digital Producer: Jonathan Lloyd
Design and Development: Nelson Hsu
Graphics Producer: Cynthia Andrews