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Collection of parking fines is falling short

October 26, 2006|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Motorists owe the city of Los Angeles $164 million in past-due parking tickets and late penalties, officials said Wednesday, sparking a call from some City Council members to investigate potential shortcomings in collection efforts.

A contractor is expected to be able to collect $52 million of the ticket fines over the next five years, but the rest may be more difficult to recover, said Linda Aparicio, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Transportation. That would mean up to $112 million might never be collected.

"These are deemed difficult to collect," Aparicio said, explaining that the tickets involve vehicles with no Department of Motor Vehicles registration, mailing addresses that are undeliverable or cars that now have different owners.

During the last year, the city collected $113 million in parking ticket revenue. The delinquent tickets go back three years and include penalties that can more than double the original ticket cost.

The $164 million in delinquent fines represents 1.3 million overdue tickets, Aparicio said.

Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, head of the council's Transportation Committee, called Wednesday for a review of collection efforts to see if more of the money can be recovered.

"I'm critically concerned," Greuel said. "Millions of dollars in the city have gone uncollected, and I want to make sure that we have the best process and the best contract and the best city employees focusing on this."

Greuel said she wants to know how long the delinquencies have been accruing, given that the city has increased parking ticket fines.

"We give tickets so that people won't have the same behavior, and once we give the ticket, we want to collect the revenue," she said.

Councilman Herb Wesson, another member of the committee, said he had not seen the report but added that "$164 million is a lot of money, and the city can use it."

Councilman Alex Padilla also said options for improving collections should be examined quickly in committee.

Times staff writer Steve Hymon contributed to this report.

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