Silver Lake Parking Tickets

Posted on 07/17/17 by Ben Coppersmith


The City of Los Angeles recently released a dataset that contains parking citations from 2012-2015. When it comes to parking, we all constantly wonder how far we can toe the line–

Do you really need to feed the meter right before parking restrictions end? Do you actually need to move for street sweeping? If the car is a-rockin’, is it true that the police are legally prohibited from coming a-knockin’? Well, now we have a way to really answer at least some of these questions.

View Dataset

The Problem

Angelenos get a ton of tickets – there are at least 7.3 million citations since 2012. That’s a ton of data to analyze and there are many ways to break it down. As a start, I decided to keep it simple. I wanted to examine how tickets were assigned in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. More specifically: exactly how strict is the enforcement of the Permit Parking zone in my neighborhood?

The Tickets

I downloaded the raw ticket data and filtered out the non-Silver Lake tickets. The ticket data comes with the date and time at which the ticket was issued, so I compressed all tickets into the same 24 hour window and then dropped them on a map. This makes it possible to visualize the various times of day that parking citations are issued:

(The sliding-scale is the time of day; this map shows all tickets from 2012-2015. “Preferential Parking” tickets are given to vehicles that do not have visible permits during the permit-only window from 11pm-6am).

And holy cow! That’s a huge explosion of “Preferential Parking” citations at 11pm! It’s amazing how many tickets are assigned right as the “Permit Parking” begins. But it’s more remarkable how few tickets are given out after 11:30 PM. Even though permits are required until 6:00AM, it really seems like enforcement goes to bed at midnight.

Here’s another look at when tickets are given out:

92% of preferential parking tickets are issued before midnight! 83% before 11:30pm! There have been no recorded preferential parking tickets assigned from 3:30am to 6am!

So - the next time you are enjoying a post-punk noise show at The Satellite, and you glance at your Samsung Gear S Smartwatch to see it’s already midnight, and you’ve illegally parked your PT Cruiser on West Silver Lake Blvd (full disclosure, I have no idea who my readers are) – chill. You’ve either already gotten a ticket or you’re in the clear.

Notes and References

  • The raw ticket data is pretty messy – the timestamps are weird and the coordinates are in an esoteric, California-centric projection. You can find the script I used to clean up and filter the data on my GitHub page.
  • It was incredibly easy to make a fancy map with CartoDB. The only problem was the time attribute kept getting automatically shifted to UTC time. I wound up hacking through this (I added 7 hours to the raw timestamps). So, uh, if you click through to my underlying dataset on CartoDB, that’s why it has some weird columns. (I believe this is the issue being tracked by CartoDB here).
  • 7.3 million is a lot of tickets! @shalomsweetheart should feel encouraged that she’s only responsible for ~0.0001% of all tickets.

Reposted with the author's permission from

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