CityWatch, Oct 25, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 85
RETHINKING LA - In an all-too-common demonstration of synchronized confusion, the City Attorney’s office has directed the LADOT to suspend enforcement of the city’s Apron Parking ban, reversing its prior position and leaving more unanswered questions in its wake.
For those people who have been cited but have not yet resolved their citations for violating the City Attorney’s creative interpretation of the “parkway parking” ban, do they still have to pay their tickets for an offense that is no longer offensive?
For those people who have been cited but did not pay their citations, triggering late fees and penalties, does the moratorium apply to the collection activities that include credit reporting and legal action?
For those people who park parallel to the curb line, in their driveway but without blocking the sidewalk or the travel lane in the street, are they also included in the moratorium?
For those people who have received citations for apron parking and who have paid their $58 tickets, are those debts forgiven and are they entitled to a refund?
The City Council is to be commended for acting decisively to address the debate over Apron Parking with a resolution to suspend enforcement while the definitions are debated and clarified. This allows residents (who are aware of the action) to use valuable real estate in congested neighborhoods to park vehicles, all while leaving the sidewalks open and clear for pedestrians.
Of course the term “decisively” in this case actually amounts to allowing the debate to roll along for years until it reached a crisis point that saw community members take to the streets with picket signs, calling for their council representative to act with resolve.
At issue is the practice of parking personal vehicles in residential communities in the driveway, between the street and the sidewalk or between the sidewalk and the garage, a common time-honored practice that maximized parking capacity on private property.
The controversy over Apron Parking resulted from the overzealous use of driveways for parking, especially in Westwood, that resulted in blocked sidewalks and triggered an ADA complaint against the city for allowing violations of the California Vehicle Code prohibition (CVC 22500) against blocking the sidewalk with a parked vehicle.
Rather than simply enforce the CA vehicle code violation against blocked sidewalks, (one that even clarifies how much vehicle can protrude - Lights, mirrors, or devices that are required to be mounted upon a vehicle under this code may extend from the body of the vehicle over the sidewalk to a distance of not more than 10 inches) the City of LA pursued a Municipal Code ban on “Parkway Parking” that prompted a debate over the city’s contradictory definitions of “parkway” and “driveway” and “apron” and “common sense.”
As of last week, the LADOT’s General Manager, Jaime de la Vega has instructed the LADOT’s parking enforcement officers to cease enforcement of LA’s apron parking ban (LAMC 80.53) and informed the City Council that “any citations issued in error under LAMC section 80.53 on October 12, 2011 or later will be administratively canceled.”
No mention was made of those cited over the last few months, in the period of time between the City Attorney’s first instruction to enforce LAMC 80.53 and the City Attorney’s second instruction to suspend enforcement.
The residents of LA were in the dark when the controversial enforcement of LAMC 80.53 began and were effectively left in the dark when enforcement was suspended. Those left holding receipts, citations, penalties and collections notices deserve resolution that recognizes the flawed process and the uneven application of the law.
Most of all, the residents of LA who live in properties with long driveways and apron parking spaces deserve real answers that allow them to live their lives without being left in limbo when it comes to parking their vehicles.
For a recap on the “parkway” controversy, read “Time to Curb LA’s City Attorney,” and “The Public’s Search for Parking, Nuch’s Search for Revenue.” To follow the journey of two neighborhoods through this drama, visit StopLADOT and PalisadesParkingPatrol.
(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net .)