Los Angeles officials will begin cracking down next week on a wave of renegade parking across the city, more than five years after first turning a blind eye to the practice.
Starting Monday, L.A. parking officers will begin ticketing cars parked on the stretch of public land between the sidewalk and the street, the Transportation Department said.
Those slivers of land — called parkways or berms — have become popular de facto parking places in neighborhoods where street spaces are at a premium. The practice has destroyed grass, plantings and curbs in dense, central neighborhoods such as Westlake, East Hollywood and Koreatown.
The City Council suspended the policy of ticketing such vehicles in 2011, after being sued multiple times over alleged violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
One lawsuit said the city's practice of allowing drivers to park on the sloping portion of the driveway between the sidewalk and the curb, known as the apron, violated accessibility laws.
At the advice of city lawyers, parking officials began paying closer attention to apron parking — and a wave of ticketing followed. Drivers who had parked in their own driveways for years began to receive tickets.
After an outcry, city lawmakers suspended parkway parking enforcement until a separate policy could be written for driveways.
Five years passed. The city's lenient stance was never advertised, but drivers eventually caught on, bumping over curbs and driveways to reach parkway spaces.
Residents in East Hollywood and Westlake, frustrated by City Hall's inaction, turned to guerrilla tactics to discourage their scofflaw neighbors. Some planted trees and installed posts, only to have them knocked down.
The new policy, approved in June, will allow the city to resume ticketing drivers for parking on parkways. It will also allow drivers to park on driveway aprons — provided cars don't block the street or the sidewalk.
"You can't have your wheels on the sidewalk or on the street," Transportation Department spokesman Bruce Gillman said.
The practice is particularly common in Westwood, where landlords sometimes sell driveway apron spaces to students or guarantee them in their leases. The city has asked UCLA to include the new parking information in students' orientation packets, Gillman said.
Parking officers have been placing warning fliers under drivers' windshields since the start of July, Gillman said.
"We're not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes or hide anything," Gillman said.