California: Court of Appeal Refuses to Hear Parking Ticket Cases

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
california court of appeal refuses to hear parking ticket cases

California’s second highest court has no interest in dealing with parking tickets. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal on April 12 rendered a decision in a case involving nothing more than a disputed $44 parking ticket. Motorist Angelica Guevara argued that the citation she received on December 28, 2008 for parking in Bell was void because the city failed to provide adequate notice of overnight restrictions. The justices made it clear they will not consider the merits of this or any other parking case.

Bell, which has a population of 36,500, has seventeen signs describing the restriction on roads entering the city, but Guevara was visiting from Oakland and did not see them. After two administrative challenges, Guevara had a trial before a superior court judge who found her guilty on March 27, 2009. That October, she asked the superior court’s appellate division to overturn the adverse ruling, but it declined to do so.

“The city’s overnight parking ordinance well may be simply a revenue generating device without adequate notice,” the superior court’s appellate division explained in denying Guevara’s appeal. “The problem is that the court cannot decide the issue.”

Citing the limited procedures for appeal laid out by the legislature in the California Vehicle Code, the Court of Appeal panel agreed with the lower court’s reasoning, insisting motorists have fewer rights in such cases.

“A parking violation… is neither an infraction nor a misdemeanor, but rather results only in a civil penalty,” Associate Justice Orville A. “Jack” Armstrong wrote. “Thus, the superior court conducting the trial de novo of a parking violation is the court of last resort; the appellate department of the superior court has no jurisdiction to review the final judgment entered in the trial de novo…. We conclude that the Legislature intended this ‘de novo’ review of the administrative decision to be the extent of the process due a parking violation contestant.”

The court likewise threw out Guevara’s request for an injunction against the city because she now knows about the restriction and will not suffer irreparable harm if Bell continues with its existing practices. The higher court also refused to provide declaratory relief.

“Here, the legal rights of the parties have been adjudicated,” Armstrong wrote. “That is to say, in the de novo trial, the superior court finally determined that Guevara was required to pay a $44 fine for parking overnight on a city street, even though she had no actual notice of the parking restriction. There is no actual controversy between Guevara and the city such that a judicial declaration would affect Guevara’s behavior — the very purpose of a declaratory relief action.”

A copy of the unpublished decision is available in a 60k PDF file at the source link below.

Guevara v. Los Angeles Superior Court (Court of Appeal, State of California, 4/12/2011)


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  • Mike978 Mike978 on Apr 26, 2011

    I did not know about that large a fine, thankfully I don`t live in California which seems the most blighted by this. Why was the car in "storage"? I assume some violation.

    • CJinSD CJinSD on Apr 26, 2011

      I believe it was towed because the plates were lapsed. It wasn't being driven, just sitting in a condo parking garage while the owner was in Russia for the summer. There are vans with cameras connected to image recognition software that drive all the streets and alleys of Pacific Beach, where I live. The plates are immediately run through the system and then an army of tow trucks yanks the cars that come up with taxes due. I learned a bit about it because of the RAV4. The towing contractor for the police has holding yards all over the city. It looks like a full employment project for thugs. At the same time, enforcement is pretty arbitrary. When I lived in La Jolla, my friends and I had our tires chalked constantly by an ambitious parking nazi. If he could ever catch us not moving all our cars in 48 hours, they'd have been towed. Meanwhile, 6 houses down the street was a white Rolls Royce which was always kept detailed, but that sat a bit high in the front. It looked a little off because it didn't have an engine. It sat there for 2 years that I know about without ever getting ticketed or towed while our cars got white stripes marked on the tires every day. Corruption is lovely.

  • Sol4justice Sol4justice on Jun 11, 2011

    I'm the attorney handling the case discussed above. Thank you for engaging in the important dialogue which has transpired about the issue of motorists' fundamental due process rights concerning parking ticket disputes. Under California law, public roads rightfully belong to the people, subject only to "legitimate" local regulation, which must be expressly authorized by the State (i.e. the Vehicle Code). Under controlling case law, a city's mere contention that motorist receive due notice on a local parking prohibition- simply because sings are allegedly posted at the City's entrances- is NOT sufficient to prove requisite notice in order to actually enforce the local ordinance. (See Homes On Wheels v. City of Santa Barbabra) As a free people, we each have a fundamental right to redress our individual grievances with our Government, especially when the State punishes us or takes our property under color of State authority. However, under California procedure (says the Court of Appeal), a parking citation contestant is only afforded a single "Parking Appeal," which is a limited civil court hearing similar to a Small Claims case. California law does not allow anyone to challenge the the legality of any municipal fine under a limited civil case, including a limited civil Parking Appeal. Hence, the Court of Appeal has essentially ruled that California offers absolutely no forum whatsoever for one to challenge the legality or Constitutionality of a municipal parking fine; that is, even if the laws in question violate State, federal or Constitutional law; and/or, even if the City's method of enforcements is discriminatory, illegal, unconstitutional, etc.. Needless to say, the Court of Appeal has made a VERY critical and important decision on ruling that the public has absolutely no right to raise purely legal or Constitutional challenges in any California courthouse when it comes to local parking enforcement. Accordingly, my client's battle to secure motorists' fundamental liberty, property, and due process rights continues. The case has recently been submitted to the Supreme Court of California under a "Petition for Review" (Case No. S193357). If California's court system ultimately fails to redeem itself on refusing to afford aggrieved motorists a judicial forum to at least raise federal Constitutional challenges concerning a City's method of enforcing local parking laws, then we will look to our federal courts for appropriate relief. The most important reason being: our fundamental rights to liberty, property, and due process have no price tag...Stealing $44 is still theft. Extorting what may be a small amount of money from each and every person out of a mass population still constitutes a handsome amount for the taker. As a free people, we simply cannot allow our State (nor its subdivisions) to illegitimately seize, take, or steal from us without any legal accountability; not even when the amount taken from each citizen only adds up to $44...

    • Mcgeo52 Mcgeo52 on Jan 24, 2014

      Please explain how the court can simply refuse to hear this case. The law clearly says, "A proceeding under this subdivision is a limited civil case." - CVC 40230(a) The entirety of Chapter 2 of Title Eight of the Rules of Court is dedicated to "Appeals and Records in Limited Civil Cases" so there is obviously a way to appeal a limited civil case.

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  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
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