Traffic officer Garcia takes The Eastsider for a ride through Echo Park

red car by cecilia padilla brill

Traffic Officer Richard Garcia doing his job | Cecilia Padilla-Brill


ECHO PARK — Most of us know what it’s like to receive a parking ticket. However, most of us don’t know what it’s like to be the person who issued it. To get a better understanding of the procedures and people behind the wheel of those little white cars with yellow lights on the roof, The Eastsider recently took a ride along with traffic officer Richard Garcia.

Garcia is one of the city’s 575 traffic officers assigned to the Department of Transportation’s parking enforcement operations. The officers issued nearly 2.5 million tickets  during the most recent fiscal year, making for many unhappy vehicle owners.

“I understand, nobody likes to get a parking ticket. I totally get that,” Garcia said. “But you know, when you get a ticket, it is usually your fault. It is your doing.”

On a recent Thursday morning, Garcia began his day with street sweeping enforcement on the north side of Sunset Boulevard on Douglas Street, where vehicles cannot be parked on one side of the street from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

He began at 8:05 a.m. sharp.

Why 8:05 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.? There is a mandatory five-minute grace period. Although street-cleaning enforcement began at 8 a.m., Garcia had to wait until 8:05 a.m. to issue citations in order to give folks a short window of time to move their vehicles.

parking enforcement handheld computer

Handheld computer issues tickets and notifes officer when parking meters expire| Cecilia Padilla-Brill

He encountered a Spanish-speaking man who asked why he was previously cited when street sweeping was cancelled. Officer Garcia recommended that he log on to the Bureau of Street Services website to find out routes with relaxed parking enforcement.

One construction worker on Douglas Street moved his vehicle after Garcia kindly questioned if the white truck belonged to him. On Portia Street, the owner of a grey Oldsmobile with Alabama plates found a citation on his front windshield and witnessed Garcia chalk his tires as an abandoned vehicle.

Two minutes tops was all Officer Garcia needed to issue each of seven citations he recorded that morning on his Motorola Handheld Pocket PEO. Aside from generating the citation, the device accesses information, such as abandoned vehicle locations, downed signs, fallen trees, and is equipped with GPS. Ever wondered how parking enforcement arrived the second your  meter expired? Well, the handheld device communicated with the meter where the vehicle was parked.

By 9:45 a.m., the ride-a-long was over, but the officer’s day had just begun.

And just to set the record straight, Garcia confirmed that no incentives, bonuses or trips to Hawaii are given to traffic officers who issue the most tickets. So why does he do it?

“I like being able to be out, the freedom just to do my job,” Garcia said, and  “giving service to citizens and helping.”

traffic officer in echo park on scott by cecilia padilla brill

Photo by Cecilia Padilla-Brill

Cecilia Padilla Brill is a communications writer and journalist. She writes news, health, education and feature stories. Cecilia is currently working on her first novel. She has lived in Echo Park since 1999

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  1. There, their, they’re.

  2. probably the funniest article i’ve ever read here…lolz

  3. Tony the Main Spoon

    “It’s our fault”, Garcia claims. And the parking enforcement officers and new digital meters are so perfect. Last time I paid the meter with coins, the two dimes I dropped in the slots didn’t register my time until I dropped a quarter. Ahhhshutup Garcia!

  4. Garcia said, and “giving service to citizens and helping.”

    Wait, what??? SMH

  5. WOULD YOU GUYS LIKE TO SEE A VIDEO??? to put all this article to the trash.. only says post comment!!!! how can we put a video.

  6. Please have the officer come to Valentine Street, between Ewing and Baxter – called and reported two silver vehicles – one a Dodge camper truck and the the other a VW van – parked for 4 weeks – northing is happening from city… thanks

    • Not sure where you’ve called but can imagine your frustration. If you haven’t already, try calling 311. We’ve had good luck with reporting furniture, etc., left on street or alley here in Echo Park. Usually picked up next regular trash day.

      Cars are obviously in different category but 311 operator could be asked to notify proper department. Sometimes every little push helps. Good luck.

    • LADOT direct line to call and report abandoned vehicles – (213) 485-4184. Saves you the wait time and headache of calling 311. Staff is friendly and there to help!

  7. Just another pig. A sad lowly pig at that, Doing pig work, enforcing fines on the lower classes so the govt can give tax breaks to corporate polluters, and billionaires looking to hoard wealth at the expense of everyone else. The city of LA relies on these fines to make the budget work so the signs are purposely ambiguous and outrageously high. If the city put this energy toward appropriate policing of the neighborhood rather than using racist gang injunctions perhaps the pig community wouldn’t be such an enemy to the people it’s suppose to “serve”. Fuck this pig and everyone other pig who’s done nothing but take and abuse from the people. Go get a real job, being a pickpocket for the state is no way to go about your life.

    • You and your language are obnoxious and don’t belong here on the Eastsider. Take your opinions where obscenity is expected and accepted.

    • Learn to park your car properly and you won’t have to worry about tickets.

      PS: don’t be a proper douche. That job is already taken.

  8. I think it’s ridiculous to receive a ticket for parking in our alley (without blocking) in order to get car off street for two hours during sweeping. As anyone who lives West of Alvarado on Kent, Clinton, etc., knows there simply is no space to park for blocks. I’m ill and can’t park then walk 4-5 blocks back home. Seems a little discretion could be used when no problem is caused by using alley for a couple hours.

    • Would emergency vehicles still be able to get past your car? That’s probably the deciding factor.

    • Don’t know the situation in the specific alley where your vehicle received a citation; however, the citations given for parking in an alley may be related to ensuring there is enough space for an emergency vehicle(ambulance, fire truck) to access properties via the alley.

      • I see the point re emergency vehicles, but don’t believe they could get past even without car in alley…very narrow, trash cans, etc. May be wrong, but people do park there at other times and seems the police only patrol in alley on streetsweeping days.

  9. I suggest that these Citation Officers be tasked with the enforcement of
    the new ordinance banning street vendors at Echo Park Lake (a city wide ordinance that includes all parks and beaches)

    They’re driving around all day anyway, with their only mandate being to generate revenue for the city,
    so why not have them help clear out the park of illegal vendors?

    It’s a good solution to a help the police department, which is understaffed to enforce this new & needed ordinance.

  10. these people are the devil….

  11. if others took as much pride in their community as Officer Garcia does and obeyed simple laws, he wouldn’t have a job.

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