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SANTA CLARITA/ANTELOPE VALLEY : City to Take Over Tickets From Courts : Government: An Assembly bill allows the change. Citizens won’t notice any difference, authorities say.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Santa Clarita is joining the growing list of cities statewide that are handling parking tickets rather than the court system.

Changing parking violations to a civil rather than criminal matter in California was authorized by the passage of Assembly Bill 405 in September, 1992, and is expected to ease the workload of crowded municipal courts while generating more money for cities.

The Santa Clarita City Council Tuesday discussed taking over the administration of parking citations by Jan. 1. Sheriff’s deputies would still write the tickets and fines are not expected to increase, but Santa Clarita will receive more money from each ticket, said Finance Director Steve Stark.

“The citizen will probably not notice a difference whatsoever,” Stark said.

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Santa Clarita parking fines range from $25 for being in a red zone to $325 for parking in a handicapped zone, said Deputy Clint Bowers of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. The station issued 2,796 citations in 1992 and 3,517 in 1991.

Santa Clarita receives 89% of each ticket fine, and Los Angeles County courts are allocated 11% to cover processing costs. Under AB 405, cities will get 100% of the ticket.

Santa Clarita earned $80,000 from parking citations during the 1992-93 fiscal year. Stark said 11% additional revenue per ticket will cover administrative costs but not lead to more income overall.

However, officials from other cities say there is significant opportunity to make money.

Palmdale began handling traffic citations six weeks ago. Deputies issued 397 citations in August worth $22,479, a 58.8% jump over the monthly average of 250 tickets.

“The police are probably a lot more motivated when they know the money is coming here rather than it being raked off by the county,” said Palmdale Finance Director Bill Ramsey.

Ramsey projected that Palmdale will double the $60,000 in parking-ticket revenue it earned during the 1992-93 fiscal year.

All of California’s 470 cities are expected to administer parking citations either by 1994 or when individual cities’ current ticket-processing contracts expire. Many cities in Fresno County, for example, have contracted with the county for ticket processing through 1996 and will not be forced to break those contracts.

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“The whole premise of the bill is that cities could do it more efficiently,” said Dwight Stenbakken, a spokesman for the League of California Cities.

During the 1992-93 fiscal year, the state issued about 17 million traffic citations. Only 20% were handled through the courts, according to the league’s Judi Smith.


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