CITY HALL — The City Council Tuesday approved a settlement agreement with a Santa Monica couple that sued City Hall over a parking ticket and the response they received once they challenged it.

Stanley and Harriet Epstein sued City Hall in June 2011 claiming that Santa Monica officials had violated the California Vehicle Code by sending motorists form letters that gave no justification to those contesting parking tickets why they had received the citations.

The case arose after Harriet Epstein received a ticket in February 2011 for parking in a space next to Euclid Park. When she questioned the reason, City Hall wrote back saying “the citation … is valid.”

The couple will receive $12,500 from ACS, which processes parking tickets issued in Santa Monica, and City Hall will pay the Epsteins’ attorney $65,000 under the terms of the settlement. Additionally, City Hall will send out letters to people who received a citation and requested only an informal review, as well as those who did that and went to an administrative hearing when contesting a ticket, said City Attorney Marsha Moutrie.

In those letters, City Hall and ACS are expected to provide those people more information about why the ticket against them was upheld, Moutrie said.

The Epsteins estimate that 20,000 motorists will gain the right to have their contested parking tickets reconsidered under the terms of the settlement.

“While we applaud the city’s changes to give future ticketed motorists more information,” Stan Epstein said, “the only relief to those injured over a 40-month period is through this settlement agreement. Our litigation forces Santa Monica to restore rights to drivers whose statutory rights were violated and to comply with state law hereafter.”

This is the second time the City Council has approved a settlement with the Epsteins. The first came in late February, but the couple contested it, saying that there had been no deal at the time.

 

ashley@smdp.com