Is Booting Cars Really LA’s Answer to Budget Deficits?

imagesIt’s not easy to live in LA.  You’ve got to have a certain toughness.  Especially if you are struggling to make ends meet… and who isn’t these days?

Certainly our fair city is having a hard time.  And it seems that one of the answers the people who run this place have is raising the fine on just about everything having to do with driving.  Forget about the impact on the populace.  There’s a new attitude and it seems to be…  let’s make new laws to take as much money as we can from the people of this city.

Now I’m not an advocate of scofflaws who drive like maniacs and endanger peoples lives by their bad driving.  Those losers should be off the road… but I can’t help but wonder what kind of message politicians are sending to us folks when they raise the parking rates to outrageous sums, slap $50 parking fines on expired meters, boot and tow cars after three unpaid parking tickets … it used to be 5 (lots of money in getting a car out of hock) and now are suggesting that putting more cameras at intersections can raise millions for the city.

Here’s just a taste of what it costs now compared to a couple of years agao:  Running a red light… $446 (without traffic school fees), up from $271 in 2008.   Get caught doing a rolling right turn at a stoplight and you’ll pay $381 — up from $156 two years ago. Park at an expired meter, pay a $50 fine now vs. $35 a year ago.

The city estimates that just by changing the boot process from three to five tickets they can make an additional 61 million a year.  Here’s a news flash:  most people who don’t pay tickets are struggling to pay for groceries and rent and when you have to make a choice, it usually goes in favor of food.  Schwarzenegger wants in on the money too.  He’s proposing that they put up cameras to catch speeders (not just red light violators) so the state can get a piece of the action too.  Frazgo wrote about this here and what you can do about it.

Like I said, it’s great to get bad drivers off the street, but the zeal with which these things are being proposed to solve money problems just seems to be a head on collision with the goodwill of the people of this city.  We did, after all, vote our council, mayor and others in to protect us.  Not to skin us alive for driving.

11 Replies to “Is Booting Cars Really LA’s Answer to Budget Deficits?”

  1. It’s deplorable. We’re still in a recession (I don’t care what the politicians & media say). It’s just another way to “tax” the public w/out a vote.

  2. I’m in favour of booting folks. If someone is getting tickets so often that they have 3 outstanding at a time, they’ve got to be a pretty clueless individual in my book. Are any of the offenses that a person could be racking up those tickets for unavoidable? It’s not as if the entire road system isn’t composed of visual cues and symbols that are designed for the licensed, test passing drivers to interpret.

    Maybe this would be slightly better if street sweeping tickets (which definitely are a burden on the poor) and meter tickets (meters in LA are notoriously prone to ticket inducing failure) were exempt from the total?

  3. It’s certainly a double-edged sword. The city is aching for revenue, but at what cost and to whose benefit? There are those who will argue that the solutions are simple: don’t break the law, ride a bike, blah blah blah. And sure, these increases in fines and fees will hopefully motivate people to be better drivers and seek out alternative transportation solutions, but good people are still gonna get $lammed — especially when you factor in that the LAPD is going to urging its patrol force to write these tickets and often.

    I know if a moment’s lax driving ended up with me staring down the barrel of a $500 fine, not only will it hurt my bottom line but it’ll further the realization that the city is run by desperate money-grubbing officials who increasingly don’t have its citizens best interests at heart.

    So I say balance the bad with the good. Earmark a portion of these increases into a program that rewards citizens and businesses who can demonstrate an annual record of good driving, or use of mass and alternate transit modes. Yep, it’s totally pollyanna-esque and I might only see a nickel break on my taxes, but to me something microscopically positive is better than everything negative.

  4. Don’t forget the bulk of the fine increases for this year are driven by the state to generate revenue for it first. Cities only get a fraction of the total fine.

  5. The only problem I have with this is that they did not raise the fees higher!!! It’s a great way to make money- tax being a idiot (every time I have gotten a ticket has been with I was being an idiot) or trying to get away with something.

  6. Wow, we have some super angelic drivers in here. /sarcasm

    I got 3 parking tickets in one week on my street for not having the proper zone sticker. I finally checked out my bumper and saw the sticker has been STOLEN. I sent letters to the City explaining that I did in fact have the proper sticker, purchased for $40-odd bucks late last year, which they said was irrelevant as the sticker “wasn’t visible.” As I was contesting this, my fines tripled…and then I got towed. The apologetic tow truck driver said “The City is broke and the money’s better if they tow – no one boots any more.”

    So naturally I had to fork over somewhere in the vicinity of $800 to get it back.

    I appreciate enforcing moving violations as much as the next person – I’ve never had one, tho God knows I’ve deserved them over the past 20 years – but at some point the insanity has to end.

  7. the city is run by desperate money-grubbing officials who increasingly don’t have its citizens best interests at heart.

    And it’s populated by more of the same: citizens who drive in excess of the speed limit (even if its raining); citizens who run yellow lights as if green and red lights as if yellow; citizens who drive into heavily-trafficked intersections and then block thru-traffic… you know I could go on and on and on about the drivers in this city, who willfully and/or negligently endanger not only the lives of those around them but also the lives of themselves and their families. (I can’t tell you how often I see an SUV blast through a red light, the back seat packed with kids.)

    Not to mention citizens who repeatedly vote down measures which would improve their lives, complaining about taxes, while simultaneously approving government mandates which will result in budget cuts from non-mandated programs (because we can’t raise taxes to pay for the stuff the citizens demand). But that’s a state-wide problem, and fortunately only about half of LA is that stupid.

    Every lament from poor persecuted drivers is exactly the same: “I broke the law, either due to my negligence or my selfishness, and now the city has the temerity to fine me for it.”

    Yes, it’s tragic that people steal parking and registration stickers; it’s even more tragic that it takes driver’s weeks or months to notice. (Way to inspect that car, responsible citizen-driver!) It’s tragic and perhaps unjust that one must be a kabbalist in order to decipher parking signs, but this regulatory nightmare is as much as result of NIMBY citizen whinery as it is government greed (citizens demand neighborhood parking be restricted to neighborhood residents).

    There is a simple solution: don’t break the law. Traffic laws are easy to respect and obey. Don’t run that yellow light – you’re not supposed to anyway – and you can’t even risk getting a ticket for running the red. Don’t park illegally. And since it’s widely known that permit and sticker theft are rampant, check your car every day.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know it’s difficult. There’s nothing about living here that’s easy. But there’s this thing we have, no matter how tough it gets. It’s called “responsibility,” a word that might as well be written in Linear B for all the recognition it gets from LA drivers. But if you’ll check your CA DMV handbook (you know, the one you obviously didn’t study), you’ll find it talks a lot about the responsibility you have as a drivers: toward your own safety as well as that of the public.

    But of course, I know this falls on deaf – and now likely resentful – ears.

    So do the “crime,” pay the fine, and whine whine whine. It’s the LA Way.

  8. Wow. Cal, lot of inner road rage!… But thanks for sharing.. I don’t disagree that yes, there are bad drivers, drivers who deserve tickets. But that isn’t my point. The point is that raising the penalties so high when someone makes a mistake is a bit much. We all have to live together and make this city work… but when just being 5 min late on a parking meter gets you a $50 ticket… and sometimes the meters are broken (see previous posts) or when you are going 5 miles over the speed limit and get a ticket…. it’s as if the city is scalping the citizens with it’s new ‘laws’. And when it’s so frustrating AND expensive to do business and live in a city… the whole infrastructure falls apart.

  9. Thanks for the great post – I’m really not sure how they can justify those ridiculous increases. Must just be revenue raising as you said. Have they at least been up front and explained what they expect to use the extra funds on?! That’s someting I’d definitely love to know!!

    Jorge

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