Unfair Parking Tickets?

Have you ever gotten a parking ticket that you thought you didn't deserve?

An NBCLA investigation reveals how the city of Los Angeles could be writing millions of dollars a year in bogus parking tickets.

"I think we're being robbed," says businessman Scott Sedita, who has been ticketed at broken parking meters.

Tickets at broken meters are only part of the problem.

NBCLA has found many other people who say they've been ticketed at locations where they've never even parked their cars.

A case in point is Mal Terriquez of Anaheim, who got ticketed in LA, on a day when he was at home in Orange County.

"They're issuing me a ticket, but I was nowhere near the area," Terriquez said.


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NBCLA's investigation began when we obtained internal records of tickets written this year at parking meters. Our analysis found more than 17,000 of those tickets were written at meters that were reported to the city as broken.

Three times within the last year, Sedita says he parked at meters that said "fail" and he still got ticketed.

"The meter said 'failed.' Why would I get a ticket?" says Sedita.

In fact, city policy forbids traffic officers from ticketing cars parked at broken meters.

But they're still doing it.

An NBCLA researcher parked her car at a meter on La Brea Boulevard. The meter sometimes flashed "fail," sometimes it appeared to work, and sometimes when we put money in, it didn't give us time.

So, our researcher put a note on the meter that said "broken meter." But minutes later, a traffic officer issued her a ticket anyway.

Our investigation also found, the city is writing other types of unfair tickets.

We obtained the city's internal "Error Reports" for 2009, which show officers are making thousands of errors when writing parking tickets.

Like the ticket Mal Terriquez received in the mail, dated Feb. 11, 2009.

The ticket contained four glaring errors: it said his car was black, but its silver. It listed his vehicle as a "passenger" car, but it's classified as a "minivan." And it didn't contain his VIN, which is required by law to be listed on a ticket.

He was ticketed for parking on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles, when he was in Orange County. He even had phone records and e-mails to prove he was working from his home office in Anaheim, when he somehow got ticketed in LA.

"They're going to issue a ticket if it's right or wrong and expect for a person to pay for it," Terriquez says.

When he first appealed, the city upheld his citation as "valid." Only after he took a day off work to fight the ticket at a hearing, did he finally get it thrown out.

When Sedita got his last of three tickets at meters he said were broken, he too appealed.

But again, the City of LA upheld his ticket as "valid," even though internal records show city workers have found that same meter broken 11 times in the last year. When NBCLA checked the meter this week, it still says, "fail."

"I have to pay a ticket that I don't deserve to pay, so I'm being robbed," says Sedita.

NBCLA wanted to question the Chief of LA's Bureau of Parking Enforcement, Jimmy Price, about why the city is apparently issuing thousands of unfair tickets.

But the LA Department of Transportation refused to provide Price, or anyone else, to answer our questions.

"To me, it's unacceptable that no one would want to respond to questions being asked," says LA City Controller Wendy Greuel.

The Controller tells NBCLA she now plans an audit of LA's parking ticket program, and might ask Parking Enforcement officials some of the same questions we wanted to ask about the fairness of many tickets.

"In the city of Los Angeles, we need to treat our residents fairly," says Greuel.

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