About 600 photographers, reporters and others pay $100 a year for a permit that is supposed to allow them to park at expired meters and in preferential parking zones while covering news. It's been around since 1994, but recently city parking officers have been ignoring the permits and writing tickets anyway — apparently arguing that if they don't see TV trucks around, there must not be real news being covered. It has happened to three photographers and at least four reporters at La Opinión, to photographer Ringo H.W. Chiu of the Los Angeles Business Journal, and to Gary Leonard in his duties for the Downtown News. "I've been cited too many times to count, maybe 10 tickets," Leonard tells the L.A. Times.
The tickets are tending to be dismissed on appeal, so the practice costs the city and the journalist a lot in time and expense. The Department of Transportation says it's trying to get its officers to stop writing the bogus tickets, but without success. Department spokesman Bruce Gillman also said he doesn't know of any instance where the media abused the permit. "It is not the department's policy to question a reporter when using the placard and parking in an appropriate manner," he says.
Interesting note: The L.A. Times doesn't take part in the parking permits program.