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Ear to the Ground

Is It Constitutional to Charge $175 for a Parking Ticket?

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Posted on Feb 26, 2014

Photo by Peter Z. Scheer

Two Los Angeles natives are fighting the city’s outrageous parking tickets and associated fines on the grounds that they violate due process and are “grossly disproportionate to the failure to put a dollar or two in the meter.”

The actual tickets in question are $63, but they double in price if not paid in a couple of weeks and there are late fees and other penalties besides.

According to the claim, as quoted by LA Weekly, “Imposition of these penalties is particularly onerous as to and is proportionately affects low income or even average income workers in the Los Angeles area.” In other words, it’s a regressive tax that screws poor people.

California is a state notorious for squeezing the little guy, in part because Prop. 13 made it difficult to raise funds in the traditional manner: taxes. That means car registration fees are unusually high, as are parking tickets.

Los Angeles was once a sprawling metropolis with easy parking, but the city has grown denser over the years. That’s probably good for sustainability (people should not commute 80 miles to work), but it also means less parking and more prey for the meter maid.

Next item on L.A.’s list of ticket outrages: the $250 jaywalking ticket you get for crossing a street when the red hand is flashing.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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