The Unequal Spatial Distribution of City Government Fines: The Case of Parking Tickets in Los Angeles



This study investigates the relationship between government fines and neighborhood composition using data on parking citations in Los Angeles. Parking ticket fines have received significant attention in public debates concerning bias in government and law enforcement practices. In these debates, community advocates claim that parking citations are spatially concentrated in neighborhoods of predominantly economically vulnerable populations. Using parking ticket data in 2016 from the City of Los Angeles, this study shows that the number of parking tickets is higher in neighborhoods with a larger presence of renters, young adults, and Black residents. The study also finds that the burden on Black neighborhoods is not alleviated by Black representation in city council. However, Hispanic neighborhoods with a Hispanic council representative experienced higher parking ticket rates for regulations that are more likely to be violated by visitors, specifically, violations occurring during the evening and overnight hours, and specific to time-limit and permit-related regulations.