Much More than One Ticket at Stake in Santa Monica Parking Lawsuit
September 20, 2012
To the Editor:
The article entitled "Santa Monica Parking Ticket Battle Ends" makes it appear that our lawsuit was about a single ticket. Nothing could be less accurate.
According to the City's own estimate, more than 20,000 motorists were intentionally denied their rights under state law. They all will get a letter in the next 30 days outlining how to have their tickets reconsidered legally and, for some, their fines refunded. Without this lawsuit, they would not have gotten this second chance.
The statement that my wife and I "walked away" with an unearned bonanza is also false. We spent 14 months in hard, complicated negotiations with the City and Xerox which refused to take responsibility for their wrongdoing before and after we sued.
For four months prior to filing a lawsuit, we called and emailed three City departments urging compliance with clear state law and changes to their illegal procedures in processing parking tickets. Had they honored their statutory duty then, there would have been zero litigation cost to Santa Monica or Xerox.
The City Attorney in February prematurely announced a settlement and later had to confess to the Council and the public that she was mistaken. In the subsequent six months, even as late as this spring, motorists were still receiving illegal letters, contrary to Ms. Schachtner's claim that the City had "fixed" the problem in June, 2011. The number of affected motorists doubled as a result of the new information. They are now included in the final deal.
For the details, we invite those interested to read the full Settlement Agreement.