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Beverly Hills to give homeless a break on parking tickets

Beverly Hills might seem a world away from urban ills like homelessness, but it could become the first city in Los Angeles County to dismiss parking citations for homeless people.

The Beverly Hills City Council voted Tuesday to approve the creation of a “parking ticket forgiveness program” for homeless or formerly homeless individuals or people who are at risk of becoming homeless. The 5-0 vote came on a first reading; the council must approve the measure on a second reading for it to take effect.

“If you have a backlog of parking tickets and you’re homeless and you’re doing everything you can to get back on your feet . . . this gives a means of doing that,” Mayor Nancy Krasne said Wednesday.

She said the program is “not for somebody who’s making a living but doesn’t feel like paying a parking ticket.”

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There is a catch, however.

To be eligible for the no-parking-ticket deal, people would have to complete a 90-day rehabilitation program aimed at getting individuals off drugs, teaching life skills and dealing with mental illness.

Beverly Hills officials billed it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for “carefully screened individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria.”

Public Counsel, the public interest law office of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills bar associations, asked Beverly Hills to support the program to build on the efforts of the Los Angeles County Homeless Court.

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Part of the court’s mission is to help down-on-their-luck individuals expunge citations for “quality of life” offenses, such as jaywalking, driving with a broken headlight or failure to pay Metro fare, said David Daniels, Public Counsel’s director of pro bono work.

Daniels said he had been approached at many homeless outreach events by people who ask what they can do about accumulated parking citations.

Such citations, he said, can impose barriers for people attempting to renew their licenses or vehicle registrations. In some cases, cars are impounded, limiting people’s ability to seek services or employment. The county Homeless Court would administer the citation forgiveness program for Beverly Hills. Daniels said he hopes other cities follow suit.

Beverly Hills spokeswoman Cheryl Burnett said the latest countywide homeless count, in January, showed that the city had 42 homeless people.

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“While we may not have the homeless numbers of neighboring cities,” she said, “we are taking an aggressive stance on trying to find solutions.”

martha.groves@latimes.com


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