There are few things more annoying that coming out to your car and finding that little slip of paper tucked into the window or under the windshield wiper.
An analysis of parking citations issued over the past two years in West Hollywood showed that the most common violation, by far, was expired meters, with nearly 58,000 issued in the fiscal year ending in June, up from 52,000 the previous year.
Add in parking in permit-only residential zones, with 51,000 in 2009 and 45,000 in 2010 (spread out over 11 zones), and you've got a lot of drivers not paying attention to where they're parked.
Jackie Rocco, manager of parking operations, said that it's not unusual for people to get distracted and forget to feed the meter.
But metered street parking, she said, is intended for short-term use, such as dropping off your dry cleaning or picking up your latte. City-owned lots only charge $1 an hour, with flat rates at night and on weekends, yet even then people take their chances with getting a $47 ticket.
"People still roll the dice. People want parking right in front of where they're going. If only they were just willing to walk one block," she said, adding that the combination of short-term street parking and city-owned lots are an attempt to balance the needs of businesses and residents.
According to documents supplied by the city, over 194,ooo tickets were issued in fiscal year 2010, up only three percent from 2009.
Third highest on the list was street cleaning violations—parking on a street that has restricted parking on certain days so that street cleaners can pick up debris that would otherwise wash down to the ocean. For those who can't remember what day sweeping occurs, Rocco offers this simple tip: If the entire side of a street is clear, you probably shouldn't park there.
For parking permit violations (as opposed to tickets for expired meters) parking zone 2R had the most of any in West Hollywood, with more than 9,600 in fiscal year 2010. The zone with the next highest number of permit violations was 1R with more than 7,400 tickets, followed by Zone 5R with more than 6,600 tickets. All three of these zones are located west of La Cienega Boulevard.
One group of tickets stood out in particular: Citations for parking improperly on a grade numbered almost 18,000 in 2009 and almost 16,000 in 2010.
Most of those tickets were issued in a relatively small area of hilly streets just south of Sunset Boulevard, near Sweetzer Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard.
Both Rocco and Rod Marquez, parking operations supervisor, said that parking without cramping, or turning, your wheels into the curb is a big public safety problem. Emergency brakes can fail, and cars have rolled into traffic and caused accidents.
"We even reduced the fine to $20," Marquez said.
Oddly enough, Rocco and Marquez said that when they get complaints, it's not usually about too much enforcement, but too little. Marquez said that given the extended process residents go through to create permit-only zones in their neighborhoods, they want those permits enforced and they want to see the officers doing it.
"If it's 7 p.m. and there are cars, they're calling," Marquez said.
Some residents have suggested that the city has boosted parking enforcement so that it can collect more fines in these budget-strapped times (given the average $47 fine, the city could stand to make almost $8.7 million from 2010 citations, assuming it can collect on all of them). Rocco disagreed and pointed out that during the Gay Pride and Halloween festivals, many parking regulations are suspended to accommodate the increase in visitors to the city.
"If we were all about the fines, we could make out like bandits," she said.
And if you do find that little slip of paper on your car and you don't think it was fairly issued, Rocco said you can fight it.
"There is a process for contesting a violation. I strongly urge you to contest the citation. That's what the process is there for," she said.
To pay for a parking citation, appeal a ticket or learn about parking meters and other parking restrictions in West Hollywood, visit the Parking Services website here.