This is what I got so far...
EDITED TO ADD:
I think the general plan here is to issue these citations and hope whoever receives them is oblivious to what is up.... Write the check and mail it in. For the few that may dispute them, reject their first appeal, reject their second appeal... And if that person happens to decide to go to court (I think they are charged the $25 if they lose).. But for every one that is contested where they have to pay the $25, there are probably a few that they collected $118 on.. or maybe even one of those few will go late and owe the late fee in addition to the $118.. Total if it goes late? $230 That will pay for 9 court losses!
West Hollywood used to collect in upwards of $8 million every year from Red light cameras. Now that L A County Courts will not enforce those citations, they've got a lot of making up to do! And I bet you this is one of them!
Let me get this out of the way... The vehicle Code apparently authorizes the use of Video Imaging of Parking Violations, however, that is strictly for "Parking Violations Occurring in Transit-Only Lanes", and ONLY the City and/or County of San Francisco are authorized to use it. West Hollywood has no authority to utilize such a a program and even if they did, the program does not authorize such use to issue VC 22526 grid-lock violations. You can read the details under VC section 40240 through 40243 which you can find HERE.
Also, there is another authority under the Vehicle Code that allows any city, or county to use "Photo Enforcement and Digital Photographing of Parking Violation During Street Sweeping", but that ONLY allows such use for the violations as described; and whether West Hollywood has signed up for such program is really not relevant here simply because the program does not authorize issuing VC 22526 gridlock citations using photo evidence.
I should also add that several parking enforcement agencies have recently started using digital photography to document parking violations, and mostly for violations where the driver might not wait for the notice to be issued. Happens in "No Stopping Zones" but in theory, it can happen with any type of parking violation.
It is important to keep in mind that as afar as evidence, I personally think that those photos will not hold up in court simply because the vehicle code does not authorize the use of imaging to document such violations. And to be able to authenticate such photos, they must be a lawful authority allowing their use. So why do they use them? Well, because the first two levels to contest a parking citation are often through an administrative hearing (first in writing and then in person), and the rules of court do not apply. So parking enforcement can say "pictures are good enough proof"... The citation is valid, pay the fine. It is often only at the third level of contesting the citation, that you can get the matter heard in a court of law, where a judge or a commissioner hears the case and decides. In this case, it goes to the Beverly Hills Superior Court.
You can review the entire process here: Contesting a Parking Citation In West Hollywood
40202(d) If, during the issuance of a notice of parking violation, without regard to whether the vehicle was initially attended or unattended, the vehicle is driven away prior to attaching the notice to the vehicle, the issuing officer shall file the notice with the processing agency. The processing agency shall mail, within 15 calendar days of issuance of the notice of parking violation, a copy of the notice of parking violation or transmit an electronic facsimile of the notice to the registered owner.
And by the way, note the 15 day condition. If the date the citation was MAILED (postmarked) longer than 15 days from the date of the violation, then the notice of parking violation is defective and you can dispute it that way.
If it is not, then you still have what I believe is a GREAT defense argument that should get this thing to go away. I cannot make any guarantees, and you may have to take it all the way to the level where you go to court before a judge, and in reality, that is where this defense is most likely to work for you.
I'll give you a sort of a brief detail and if you plan on going with it, then you can start with the first level (written appeal) immediately if you choose.
So here it goes... If you go back to the picture you can clearly see your brake lights are presumably on, and so are the brake lights for the car in front of you. Well, there is also one light that is likely to catch their attention. That being the RED light! It is not difficult to figure out that the light is in its Red phase simply because it appears that the top circular lens is illuminated and typically, the top one is red,.... Yellow/Amber is in the middle and Green is on the bottom. So their claim will likely be “you were in the intersection when the light was red, and as you can see in the picture, the light is clearly red, therefore you are guilty as charged”...
Well, that's not necessarily true... At least not 100 % true... Lets look at the code section they cited you for...
22526. (a) Notwithstanding any official traffic control signal indication to proceed, a driver of a vehicle shall not enter an intersection or marked crosswalk unless there is sufficient space on the other side of the intersection or marked crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle driven without obstructing the through passage of vehicles from either side.
So, I think we all understand what the prohibition is... Do not enter the intersection unless and until you can ensure that there is enough room for your vehicle on the other side of the intersection; the purpose for all this is simply to avoid having you obstruct the through passage of vehicles from the other side... The “other side” here clearly means northbound and south bound cross traffic on La Brea.
You should note that nowhere in that code section is the color "red” mentioned... not even once. It does talk about “an indication to proceed” but what is "an indication to proceed"? Its a green light.
So what is the element of the offense for VC 22526?
What action or lack thereof must they prove to sustain a guilty finding?
The element of the offense of a 22526 is that you entered the intersection, could not make it through on the other side, and you obstructed the through passage of vehicle from the other side.
In your case, while traveling eastbound on Fountain, and in the position you were in when the picture was taken, you could not be obstructing Southbound traffic on La Brea... You were already past that point.
So what about northbound traffic? Well, at the moment the picture was taken, there does not appear to be any vehicles that were waiting for you... Meaning, there is no evidence that you were obstructing traffic, at least not at the moment the picture was taken.
And if the cannot prove that you obstructed traffic, then how can they prove the elements of 22526 were committed?
Some may say... Nahhh, clearly, the law prohibits you entering the intersection or crosswalk if there is no room for you on the other side of the intersection or crosswalk. OK, no argument there, but without the last sentence, specifically, “without obstructing the through passage of vehicles from either side”, what is the purpose of that law... Nothing! I mean if blocking cross traffic was not the one basic issue the law was looking to prevent, then why do we call it the “anti-gridlock” law???
As for blocking the crosswalk, well, this is not the statute for that. VC 21970 covers the blocking of a crosswalk.
This is not the most reliable source for translations or interpretations but it was the first meaningful entry that came up on a Google search....
Wikipedia defines “Gridlock” as “The term gridlock is defined as "A state of severe road congestion arising when continuous queues of vehicles block an entire network of intersecting streets, bringing traffic in all directions to a complete standstill; a traffic jam of this kind."The term originates from a situation possible in a grid plan where intersections are blocked, preventing vehicles from either moving forwards through the intersection or backing up to an upstream intersection”.
Well, remove any reference to obstructing or blocking and what do you have... You don't have “gridlock” that is for sure...
Point is, without the obstruction, there is no gridlock and hence there is no reason to enforce that code section.
And I don't care what anyone says, or how bad it gets, it'll never be as bad as this: