An aggressive enforcement policy of towing and ticketing to prevent parked cars from clogging busy streets during rush hours was announced Thursday by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.
The number of tow-aways citywide could eventually double, transportation officials warned.
The program aimed at problem drivers who park illegally during peak traffic hours will begin Aug. 27, Bradley said. Initially, it will be conducted on six major streets within the city: Nordhoff Street, Ventura Boulevard, Highland Avenue, Los Feliz Boulevard, La Cienega Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard.
Unveiled in June
The towing and ticketing program is part of the mayor's proposal unveiled in June that called for tougher regulations and fines to discourage illegal parking and traffic violations. The series of proposals, some of which would require cooperation from state and court officials, are under consideration by the City Council's Transportation and Traffic Committee.
But the ticketing and towing sweeps can begin without delay by redeploying traffic officers and placing them on the stepped-up program, Bradley said. Transportation officials said that another 10 traffic officers on the street would translate into an additional 18,000 cars towed citywide each year. Presently, about 15,000 a year are towed.
Existing traffic officers can temporarily staff the new Peak-Hour Tow-Away Unit, city transportation officials said. But they said that in the next few months they will seek additional funding from the City Council, about $735,000, to permanently hire more traffic officers in order to expand the ticketing and towing program.
In announcing the program, the mayor was joined at a City Hall press conference by Councilmen John Ferraro, Nate Holden and Michael Woo. Bradley joked that it was "just a coincidence" that all but one street chosen, Nordhoff, lie in the districts of Council President Ferraro and Transportation Committee members Holden, Ferraro and Marvin Braude.
City Parking Administrator Robert Yates said the streets were selected "as a starting point . . . based on complaints that we had about those particular locations. These areas are heavily parked during peak hours."
'Add Another Lane'
Bradley predicted that the towing crackdown in particular "will actually add another lane of traffic by freeing up the curbside lane." According to city Department of Transportation estimates, Bradley said, a five-mile trip takes an average of 20 minutes to drive with cars parked in the curb lane. With the curb lanes clear, there could be "a net reduction in travel time of seven minutes," Bradley said.
The mayor also called for an increase in the bail for parking ticket violations in tow-away zones throughout the city--from the current $28 fine to $53. With an average towing fee at $51 and car storage running $8.50 per day, "we're going to make it pretty costly to ignore the laws," Bradley said.
However, an increase in bail would have to be determined by a committee of the Municipal Court, Yates said, and it "could take quite awhile" for Bradley to get the increase he wants. Under the program, towing hours on some streets will be extended by half an hour or an hour. The new hours will be posted before the crackdown begins in two weeks, officials said.
The program will be in force on these streets: Nordhoff Street between Tampa Avenue and the San Diego Freeway; Ventura Boulevard between Reseda Boulevard and the San Diego Freeway; Highland Avenue between Melrose Avenue and the Hollywood Freeway; Los Feliz Boulevard between Western Avenue and the Golden State Freeway; Olympic Boulevard between the cities of Commerce and Santa Monica, excluding Beverly Hills, and on La Cienega Boulevard between Olympic Boulevard and Culver City.