4/25/2011California: Court of Appeal Refuses to Hear Parking Ticket Cases
California Court of Appeal upholds legality of parking restriction that is simply a revenue generating device.
California's second highest court has no interest in dealing with parking tickets. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal on April 12 rendered a decision in a case involving nothing more than a disputed $44 parking ticket. Motorist Angelica Guevara argued that the citation she received on December 28, 2008 for parking in Bell was void because the city failed to provide adequate notice of overnight restrictions. The justices made it clear they will not consider the merits of this or any other parking case.
Bell, which has a population of 36,500, has seventeen signs describing the restriction on roads entering the city, but Guevara was visiting from Oakland and did not see them. After two administrative challenges, Guevara had a trial before a superior court judge who found her guilty on March 27, 2009. That October, she asked the superior court's appellate division to overturn the adverse ruling, but it declined to do so.
"The city's overnight parking ordinance well may be simply a revenue generating device without adequate notice," the superior court's appellate division explained in denying Guevara's appeal. "The problem is that the court cannot decide the issue."
Citing the limited procedures for appeal laid out by the legislature in the California Vehicle Code, the Court of Appeal panel agreed with the lower court's reasoning, insisting motorists have fewer rights in such cases.
"A parking violation... is neither an infraction nor a misdemeanor, but rather results only in a civil penalty," Associate Justice Orville A. "Jack" Armstrong wrote. "Thus, the superior court conducting the trial de novo of a parking violation is the court of last resort; the appellate department of the superior court has no jurisdiction to review the final judgment entered in the trial de novo.... We conclude that the Legislature intended this 'de novo' review of the administrative decision to be the extent of the process due a parking violation contestant."
The court likewise threw out Guevara's request for an injunction against the city because she now knows about the restriction and will not suffer irreparable harm if Bell continues with its existing practices. The higher court also refused to provide declaratory relief.
"Here, the legal rights of the parties have been adjudicated," Armstrong wrote. "That is to say, in the de novo trial, the superior court finally determined that Guevara was required to pay a $44 fine for parking overnight on a city street, even though she had no actual notice of the parking restriction. There is no actual controversy between Guevara and the city such that a judicial declaration would affect Guevara's behavior -- the very purpose of a declaratory relief action."
A copy of the unpublished decision is available in a 60k PDF file at the source link below.