Los Angeles feels a little less parking ticket pain

Number of citations issued is down in 2023. That is good for drivers, but not for city finances

Illustration of parking signs and a citation on a car windshield--signed


Street parking is one of the trickiest things in Los Angeles. Finding an open space is just the start. Vehicle owners have to pay scrupulous attention to curb colors. Then there is the need to decipher an inordinate number of signs indicating available parking days and hours, which vary from street to street. 


Fail to follow the sometimes confusing directions and the result can be painful and all-too familiar: You return to your vehicle to see a parking ticket tucked under the windshield wiper.


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It happens all the time, but this year may bring good news for vehicle owners, if not city coffers.


From Jan. 1–Aug. 31, 1,165,487 parking tickets were issued in the city, according to publicly available Los Angeles Department of Transportation data. That’s a 17% drop from the approximately 1.4 million citations written in the same period last year.


This year the city is on pace to dispense approximately 1.75 million tickets, which would represent about a 13% drop from the just-over 2 million citations handed out in 2022.


Bar chart of annual parking tickets written in the city of Los Angeles


The annual count has bounced during the past seven years. The recent peak was the 2.25 million tickets issued in 2017. In 2020 the total was just over 1.5 million.


The drastic decline in 2020 came after city leaders relaxed parking regulations due to the pandemic. The number then climbed, though counts never returned to pre-COVID levels. 


Staffing issues

The decrease in citations was attributed in part to vacancies in the city’s parking enforcement ranks, with as many as 76 open positions in 2021. As Crosstown reported that year, this exacerbated a problem: The city was spending more on its traffic enforcement division than it generated in ticket revenue.


Department of Transportation spokesperson Colin Sweeney said a full reason for the downturn this year has not been identified. 


“The volume of parking citations issued can be impacted by a wide range of factors including weather, economic conditions, emerging traffic needs, and staffing,” he said in an email. “It is too early for the department to determine precise factors driving citation volume for this calendar year without further analysis.”


Line chart of monthly parking tickets written in the city of Angeles.


City documents indicate that staffing may again be a concern. A May 3 memo from City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo to the council’s Budget and Finance Committee detailed the LADOT’s request to fill 16 traffic enforcement positions in its South Bureau. The document laid out a number of open jobs—from 13 vacancies in the Western region to 25 in Hollywood.


All told, the document identified 101 traffic enforcement vacancies. 


Busy neighborhoods, more tickets

The most-ticketed neighborhood from Jan. 1–Aug. 31 was car-filled Downtown, with 107,445 citations. The community with the next-highest number is another traffic-heavy area, Westlake, with 52,307 citations. 


Heat map showing areas where more parking tickets are written


Venice was the seventh-most ticketed neighborhood in that timeframe, with just over 30,000 tickets dispensed. However, the beachside area has the two most-ticketed blocks in the city this year. According to LADOT data, 1,589 citations were issued on the 1600 block of Irving Tabor Court, and 1,375 were written at 1301 Electric Ave.


Both are near the shoppers’ paradise Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Nearly 80% of tickets issued there were for expired meters.


More than one-quarter of the tickets issued in the city this year were for parking in prohibited or street sweeping zones. These generally came with fines of $73. 


Pie chart showing most common kind of park ticket violations


Approximately 15% of citations were for expired meters, and 13% were for parking in red zones.


How we did it: We examined publicly available parking citation data from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation from Jan. 1, 2016–Aug. 31, 2023. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LADOT makes publicly available. LADOT may update past reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


Learn more about our data here. Or write to us at askus@xtown.la.