Los Angeles Approves New Method of Fining Residents for Petty Offenses
Los Angeles City Council today approved a new citation system I warned about in August. This new system allows the Los Angeles Police Department to cite residents for a whole host of minor crimes that used to result in warnings (and potentially misdemeanor charges if police felt like pressing the matter). Now it's a way for the city to extract more money from residents for minor issues, and I'm sure that won't be abused at all. The Los Angeles Times lets the city describe it as a "quality of life" issue but does point out that the city predicts it's going to take in $1.59 million in revenue a year:
A pilot program, called Administrative Citation Enforcement, gives the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Animal Services a new enforcement tool that bypasses the court system. It allows city officials to impose fines for offenses such as urinating in public, having dogs off leashes or dumping garbage in public streets.
Currently, officers either can give a warning, or launch a criminal misdemeanor case against people who commit these crimes. Because officers are reluctant to initiate court cases for minor offenses, it's currently difficult to enforce these quality-of-life issues, said Councilman Paul Koretz.
"There is no good appropriate action with teeth," said Koretz, who proposed the concept for the program which was approved by the council last year. For instance, people can ignore repeated warnings about walking their dogs off leash, he said.
Some offenses will start at $250, while animal-related offenses start at $100 per incident, ramping up for repeat violations. As with last time, the Times picks some of the more obvious violations as examples for their story and ignores some of the citable offenses that people are less likely to know about. These are things like attaching signs on poles (like for a weekend yard sale) or not hanging onto your rabies vaccination certificate for your dog. The full list is here (pdf) on pages six through eight. The Times also neglects to explain how difficult it will be challenge citations, which I explained in my previous post.
I am wondering if I should warn my neighbors, several of whom have friendly dogs they take outside to walk without leashes. It's rarely a problem and I don't hear complaints (except for this one little dog with a Napoleonic complex. There's always one).