Ever wondered when and where you are most likely to get a parking ticket? Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin is giving city residents insight into parking ticket metrics via an open data portal dubbed Street Talk: Parking Tickets in LA.
The new website was unveiled in January and includes data on the more than 2.4 million tickets issued annually in the City of Los Angeles. The website helps residents and city officials understand, among other things, why tickets are being given, where the most tickets are being written, and peak violation times. On the website, users can access three types of data: top places and times to get tickets, top violators and violations, and where parking fines go.
For city officials, this insight could be invaluable. The city recently considered lowering parking ticket fines.
“As much as we’d like to reduce parking fines, we currently rely on the revenues,” said Galperin in a press release. “Rather than just cut ticket prices now, we should instead invest in new solutions that will help to reduce administrative costs, and give people a clearer indication whether they can park in a spot–so as to not get a ticket in the first place.”
In a report on the data, Galperin’s office found that the city generated close to $148 million in gross ticket revenues in financial year 2015-16, but nearly three-quarters of ticket revenue went to overhead, salaries, and administrative costs. The remaining $41 million was available and used to help pay for city services through the General Fund.
However, with the city facing significant liability claims, potential cuts in Federal grants, and a projected $245 million budget shortfall for 2016-2017, Galperin reiterated his reservations about lowering parking fines. He again recommended investment in smart technology to lower the Department of Transportation’s overhead costs and help reduce the number of parking tickets given in the first place.
For residents who use the portal, the data provides ample suggestions for avoiding parking violations. With the knowledge that the most frequently issued tickets were for street cleaning (26 percent), expired meters (23 percent), and expired car registration tabs (10 percent), drivers can be more aware when parking their vehicles.
The data can also be beneficial for delivery companies operating in the city. Galperin found that the city employs the equivalent of 10 full-time traffic officers just giving tickets to the two biggest recipients of parking tickets, delivery companies UPS and FedEx, which together received more than 45,000 tickets in one year alone.
“Everyone hates getting parking tickets, but parking tickets are an important tool to keep parking spots available in front of businesses, ensure first responders have access to fire hydrants and fire lanes in case of an emergency, and help make sure Angelenos can find parking spots near their homes,” said Galperin.
As part of his report on the data collected, Galperin lays out his recommendations for reducing the number of tickets issued and improving the likelihood that tickets are paid in a timely manner. Galperin suggests:
- Expanding smartphone apps so people can add money to their meters by phone.
- Developing a more efficient freight and delivery truck parking program.
- Re-evaluating street sweeping schedules and notifications.
- Deploying digital parking signs that are easier to understand, easier to change, and clearly tell people what the fine is for a violation.
- Exploring possible changes to accrued late fees and penalties–both to decrease the burden on people who have trouble paying and to increase the likelihood of actual collections.
Using this data as a jumping off point to develop new technology that reduces the number of parking tickets, while also presumably reducing the overhead and employment costs parking enforcement incurs each year, would help the city’s bottom line while also improving city residents’ happiness.