FALL SWEEPS: A Street Sweeping and Parking Enforcement Investigation





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Uploaded on Nov 1, 2009

An investigation into the City of Los Angeles's street cleaning double standard: failure to sweep streets on the designated days but strict enforcement of cars parked along them. The research revealed widespread governmental miscommunication — allowing the City to rake in millions of dollars every month — and oftentimes from batch, "sweeping" ticketings along streets that were never swept.

Research on this story began on August 28, 2009.

Copyright © Matt Schrader, 2009.

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You can pay by check or credit card, but thats the only convenience of getting a parking ticket in Los Angeles.

The printed slips of paper seem to appear all by themselves on illegally parked cars in L.A. — the result of a Parking Enforcement team that seems nearly omnipresent, and all too up to the task of ruining someones day.

But in recent years the amount of revenue from parking fines has increased noticeably, according to officials in the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, while the number of complaints has skyrocketed.

An undercover investigation stretching from August 28 to Oct. 30 revealed that, while the City of Los Angeles is ticketing every street weekly for street cleaning, it is failing to actually sweep those streets — an inaction that may open up the City to legal issues due to hazy legal wording in the municipal code.

Chapter VII, section 80.69 mentions that Parking Prohibited/Street Cleaning is a ticketable offense, but the City only holds the power to ticket if it claims that any vehicle parking would detrimentally affect the public welfare — all definitions of what that means, in regard to street sweeping or otherwise, are left open to interpretation.

Posted routes are done once a week, said John Sapone, manager of the Citys Street Maintenance Division.

In an investigation that took more than two months to complete, monitoring nine streets in Downtown Los Angeles, however, weekly seemed to be an overstatement.

The results showed that the City simply isnt sweeping some streets — though cars along them are still slapped with $60 tickets.


Using a digital video camera, nine streets were monitored on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between Sept. 2 and Oct. 30.

Of those, only two-thirds of the streets were swept weekly.

The investigation had a small sample size — when compared to the 7,000 miles of city streets assumedly swept weekly, according to Street Services Hugo Valencia — but clearly shows that the City isnt living up to its own standard.

After documenting that 23rd and 24th streets, west of Vermont Avenue, and 36th Place, also west of Vermont Avenue, were not swept, I looked for an explanation from a number of officials, including the ticketing officers themselves, the Street Maintenance division and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Valencia provided two examples of charts that sweeper truck drivers use when on their routes, but that didnt explain why certain segments of the routes werent swept at all.


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