The City of Santa Monica, CA, may have a problem brewing in its parking enforcement department. An attorney and his wife have brought suit against the city for not following state requirements when it comes to dealing with parking tickets that have been challenged by the parker.
It seems that when a person asks that the ticket be rescinded in writing, the city must respond in writing with specific reason why they are denying the request (assuming they do.) That is a two year old state law. Santa Monica, it appears, simply sends a form letter and that is that.
The attorney, who also owns a class action firm in San Diego and thus knows all about these kinds of suits, has just won the first battle. The city tried to have the suit thrown out, but the judge said “nope” and the case is going to trial in February.
This could be potentially a big deal. My friend Stan, the attorney, is concerned that the city’s lawyers are incompetent in allowing the city to get by with this disregard of a state law. He believes that the city consciously made the decision to violate the statute, because they would be required to do quite a bit more work (having to read every request for dismissal, review each case, find out the facts, and write a response) and didn’t want to do it. His goal is to get the judge to rescind all the citations denied since the state law went into effect, and to require the city to follow the law in the future. For you legal eagles, that’s called a “writ of mandate.”
I told him I thought it might just be that some low level bureaucrat continued to follow the procedure they had done for years and that the decision was so far in the noise level that it was simply overlooked. He isn’t so sure, and has folks on the record saying that the decision was made at the highest levels of the city bureaucracy. Whoops!
We shall see.