Unable to stop ticket scalpers from repeatedly violating city laws, City Atty. Carmen Trutanich has filed suit to bar 17 of them — and potentially many more — from setting foot anywhere near five of Los Angeles' most popular sports and concert venues. The injunction sought by Trutanich is the same forceful tool he has used repeatedly against a growing list of targets, including violent criminal gangs, graffiti "taggers" and drug dealers on skid row. And while critics complain about injunctions' effect on civil liberties, there are times when they're appropriate. Combating ticket scalpers, however, isn't one of them.
The city attorney's complaint against the scalpers recites a litany of bad acts, ranging from operating a business without a license to reselling tickets that had been donated to poor children. Furthermore, the lawsuit contends, the scalpers cause traffic jams, harass fans and compete unfairly with legitimate ticket sales. Most are felons, and many commit their crimes as teams.
Whether they're a public nuisance on the level of gangbangers and drug dealers, however, is another question. True, city ordinances expressly forbid people from selling tickets to events while on public property or in a place open to the public, and state law bars people from reselling tickets at the venue for more than face value. But while scalping may be an unmitigated evil for ticket sellers and venue owners, it's a mixed blessing for consumers. Scalpers may drive up prices and occasionally sell counterfeit ducats, but they also provide a convenient outlet to unload extra tickets or find seats at the last minute.