Audit says Los Angeles fails to collect on parking ticket scofflaws

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Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel Tuesday said cash-strapped L.A. is failing to collect millions of dollars in unpaid parking tickets.

The controller said the city's Department of Transportation is particularly ineffective at collecting money from habitual parking violators.

Greuel said her audit found that in one year, parking enforcement officers failed to impound nearly three-quarters of cars with five or more parking tickets.

“The city cannot afford such lax enforcement," Greuel said. She said the city could have collected $9.2 million annually had it towed those cars.

L.A. Department of Transportation interim manager Amir Sedadi defended his agency.

He said his officers may have decided against impounding a car because the driver proved they’d paid the tickets. He also said drivers may have escaped before a tow truck arrived. Parking enforcement officers are not armed.

Sedadi said his department met its revenue goals.

“We were able to meet the city’s fiscal year 2009 and ‘10 parking citation revenue projections," he said. "There was no actual loss of millions of dollars to the city.”

Greuel said the department could have done better.

The controller said the city also lost out on more than $5 million when it disbanded a special unit that looks for parking ticket scofflaws.

L.A. transportation officials reinstated it – after her audit began.

Officials said a tow truck will now follow the special enforcement unit, which uses license plate recognition technology to identify cars with five or more unpaid parking tickets.

"We will catch you," Sedadi said.

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