Reporting Kurtis Ming
For more than five years, CBS13 has been investigating drivers in Northern California getting parking tickets from the city of Los Angeles when they swear they weren’t there.
The city writes more than 7,000 tickets a day and our investigation found sometimes they get it wrong by mixing up numbers and letters and causing someone here to get a ticket in the mail.
Mark Ehrensberger of Rancho Cordova says he’s the victim of a ticket mixup, and he’s having a hard time clearing it up.
“It really is an annoyance for me. And honestly, if I would have known it would have been this much hassle, I would have just paid the $25,” said Ehrensberger.
But after going back and forth with the city, Ehrensberger said he was determined not to give up on a ticket he said he didn’t get.
“The car has never been in LA,” he said.
But a ticket showed up in the mail saying his car was in LA in November and didn’t have current stickers.
“I just bought the car, and of course, the dealer would never let it off the lot without the tags on it. So it obviously had the tags showing,” said Ehrensberger.
His explanations to the city saying he never drove his car there didn’t work and now the ticket has grown to $100. His story sounded familiar.
Frank Densmore told us in 2008 his tent trailer was ticketed by Los Angeles. But the cobwebs we saw on the trailer proved it hadn’t been moved in years.
“I’ve never been to LA, and I’ve got no way to move that trailer,” Densmore told us.
We received more complaints from viewers who told us LA showed no mercy, refusing to drop the tickets until we got involved.
John Odenkirk says he was sound asleep when the ticket for his car was written.
“I felt like I was being scammed,” Odenkirk told us.
LA’s Parking Bureau promised CBS13 in 2009 to lend a better ear.
“Once somebody were to receive a citation and contact us and told us they were never in the city in that time frame, we will definitely spend more time in trying to eliminate those difficulties for an individual,” said Bruce Gillman of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
And since then, in most cases, the city has spent more time eliminating tickets written in error to drivers in our area. Many times the problem was tied to cars with different colors, makes or models than what’s written on the ticket. But Ehrensberger’s problem is that his make, color and license plate all match what’s written on the ticket.
So Los Angeles has asked that he come up with proof he was in Northern California that day. We suggested he find a credit card charge here; or get a timecard or letter from his company proving he was at work; or maybe cell phone records proving he made calls on local towers.
He’s now trying to track down the documentation. The city of LA tells us when they get proof he was here and not there, they’ll drop the ticket.
“Be one less thing, right?” said Ehrensberger.
In 2008, the city of LA was writing more than 12,000 tickets a day, with about 48 of them written in error. The current rate is just under 7,200 tickets written a day, with about 21 being errors. But the city says some of those are caught before they’re ever sent to drivers.