The situation, slightly simplified
- A grumpy old man lives on a street in front of a school. He does not like school traffic in the mornings and afternoons.
- This man sits on the city council.
- He occasionally directs the city parking enforcement to harass drivers by issuing citations under incorrect (or sometimes marginally correct) interpretations of the vehicle code. Typical citation is around $40.
- These citations are issued by photographing license plates and mailing "courtesy reminders" in the mail. There is no attempt to issue a citation directly to the drivers. Most drivers do not know they are being cited when it happens. This allows the city to issue a lot of citations very quickly.
- The location is a smallish city in LA county California.
Is the city violating any laws with this behavior?
The thought process so far
Obviously each individual citation can/should be challenged, often successfully. However this is a lot of work, when the city can (and does) issue dozens of citations in a few minutes.
It seems difficult (to me) to draw a distinction between an occasional error on the part of the issuing officer, and egregious misbehavior. Clearly issuing officers make occasional honest mistakes. It seems somehow different to intentionally give out a dozen citations for an clearly incorrect interpretation of the law. But I can't figure out when that line is crossed, or if there is even a line there.
When (successfully, yea) challenging a previous citation, the judge (maybe magistrate, I'm not sure) indicating that issuing tickets this way violates CA VEH 40202. However, as I read that code, I can't tell in plain language if this issuing behavior is allowed or not.
Yet more detail If it's relevant, the specific citations I have received are for the following
- 15.64.290 When I had to stop on the sidewalk as I entered the school driveway, due to the flow of traffic.
- 15.20070 When I had to momentarily stop on the street, prior to entering the school driveway. Again, this was due to the flow of traffic. (There is a "No Stopping" sign on the street, which prevents vehicles from letting students out on the street itself.)
In when questioned on citations of this type, the city's position is that drivers should circle the block if they are not able to cleanly enter the driveway without stopping. This is inconsistently applied.
As a further example: I'm pretty sure I recently saw a citation issued to another driver who stopped on the street to allow pedestrians to clear the sidewalk which crosses the driveway entrance.