Here’s a new one for you.
This time we’re actually going to be praising the City of Burbank, and even Dennis Barlow’s office, for not doing what they’re trying to get away with next door in Glendale. This one might be of special interest to our cops, too, who have to deal with this legal issue every day.
For the last year or two we’ve been receiving a large number of complaints about the Glendale Police Department’s enforcement policies in the way they hand out parking citations. We’ve heard of various unfair stunts on Brand with those insane new parking meters, as well as lots of sleazy stories about how their ‘meter maids’ and even the sworn police officers are entering private parking garages so that they can hand out lucrative citations and expensive towaways.
In fact, this has been a really big problem at Trader Joe’s and the Galleria, apparently. And Sears, too.
One of the big problems is how they’re going after expired tabs, or as the cops call it, a CVC 5204(a) violation. This is where you either don’t register your car in time or you forget to mount your new registration tag. Apparently Glendale’s been going after these violations in force the last few months, and the reason is completely obvious: their new fee schedule for these 5204’s is in blatant violation of state law.
Unbelievably, Glendale now charges $80 for a simple 5204 tab ticket. By state law (CVC 40225) these violations are correctable, in which case the enforcement agency must kick them down to $10. But Glendale plays games with the law in order to screw you up and make it difficult to comply with the express terms of correction.
For instance, even though a separate California law says that any police officer or DMV employee can verify an expired tab correction, Glendale says that only their own police officers can sign off on these 5204 infractions. They even have a special place on the back of their tickets that cites this requirement, with room for the GPD signatures, as well as the restrictive instructions.
And what about that huge $80 fee they charge if you don’t correct the problem? How much does Burbank charge for this same offense?
Burbank only charges $40 for a 5204 expired tab violation, and there’s a good reason for it: Barlow and Company are actually following the law.
Here’s the controlling language for California– and note section (c) on these 5204 violations, which we’ve italicized:
CVC 40225. (a) An equipment violation entered on the notice of parking violation attached to the vehicle under Section 40203 shall be processed in accordance with this article. All of the violations entered on the notice of parking violation shall be noticed in the notice of delinquent parking violation delivered pursuant to Section
40206, together with the amount of civil penalty.
(b) Whether or not a vehicle is in violation of any regulation governing the standing or parking of a vehicle but is in violation of subdivision (a) of Section 5204, a person authorized to enforce parking laws and regulations shall issue a written notice of parking violation, setting forth the alleged violation. The violation shall be processed pursuant to this section.
(c) The civil penalty for each equipment violation, including failure to properly display a license plate, is the amount established for the violation in the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, as adopted by the Judicial Council, except that upon proof of the correction to the processing agency, the penalty shall be reduced to ten dollars ($10). The reduction provided for in this subdivision involving failure to properly display license plates shall only apply if, at the time of the violation, valid license plates were issued for that vehicle in accordance with this code.
The civil penalty for each violation of Section 5204 is the amount established for the violation in the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, as adopted by the Judicial Council, except that upon proof of the correction to the processing agency, the penalty shall be reduced to ten dollars ($10).
That’s the $10 correction fee at the end, BTW, which forces every locality to sign off on these fix-it tab tickets. That’s why they do it.
So according to this same law, how much is the “uniform” bail schedule for 5204 violations? This sets the correct fee, right? Is it cited in there, anywhere? After all, the Vehicle Code provision above says that no city in California can exceed this amount.
To make a long story short, even though there is a uniform, state “Judicial Council” bail schedule, each separate county is allowed to modify it a little for their own needs. This is done by a local panel of judges, and is usually amended every year. Here it is.
The last revision was done a few months ago. For 5204 tab violations, our local LA County judges set a countywide “bail” amount of only $25.
The localities are allowed to tack on various administrative fees, and Schwarzenegger just signed another small one last fall, so that means Burbank’s $40 fee for 5204 tab tickets is perfectly within the law. In fact, they are not exceeding it in any way, and are thus in compliance.
Congratulations to Burbank.
But it gets even worse for Glendale (and we’d love to hear their own city attorney defend this practice to his wife, who as we all know is Juli Scott from Barlow’s office). The CVC also controls the “bail” amounts for parking tickets in general. Here’s what it says:
40203.5. (a) The schedule of parking penalties for parking violations and late payment penalties shall be established by the governing body of the jurisdiction where the notice of violation is issued. To the extent possible, issuing agencies within the same county shall standardize parking penalties.
So what does Glendale do? Along with ignoring the express restrictions of the previously cited CVC about uniform bail amounts and 5204 violations, they actually did perform a comparative study of some of the other “nearby” communities.
But guess what? Not only did they cherry-pick their chosen cities–and ignore Pasadena– but most of the high-bail 5204s they found were in ORANGE COUNTY. Now this not only violates the “agencies within the same county” clause of the CVC, but it also ignores the fact that Orange’s uniform bail amounts are different from our own because they have a different uniform bail schedule!
People in Glendale don’t live in Orange County, guys. So why are you using them for comparison..? Here’s their so-called study.
So not only is Glendale trying to apply the express bail allowances of a generalized CVC 40203.5 that is preempted by CVC 40225 on 5204 tab violations, but they aren’t even doing it correctly. They had to go out of their own county in order to arrive at a ‘comparable” study that they think legitimizes their ridiculously high $80 fine for 5204 tab violations.
Either way they are in violation of state law.
Bottom line. There is no way in the world that Glendale can legally justify charging $80 for uncorrected tab tickets, nor can they restrict people’s ability to fix them by limiting the verifications to their own department.
What if you live out of town? Glendale has many, many visitors every day, and the net effect of their own restrictive rule is that you can’t just mail the correction in with your $10, like you could otherwise under state law everywhere else. So you gotta pay their exorbitant 80 bucks.