What’s law enforcement’s role in private parking lots?, reader asks

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I work in the Brown Ranch Marketplace in Capitola. Over the past week, the Capitola Police Department has been ticketing cars in our parking lot for missing registration tags, parking or standing in a fire zone and other offenses. I recall reading in Street Smarts some time ago something about police not being able to give certain kinds of tickets in parking lots because they were considered private property. Can you clarify what types of tickets they canĀ  and/or cannot give and whether or not parking lots are considered private property? Thanks, Kristie Lima via email A: When laws are being broken, the police can enforce them in private parking lots, as allowed by the California Vehicle Code, said Sgt. Matt Eller, of Capitola Police's traffic enforcement unit. Those laws include DUI, driving with a suspended license, driving without a license, reckless driving, as well as the offenses you mentioned, he said. In the past, Street Smarts has addressed the towing of vehicles from private property. That task is up to property owners, not necessarily the police. However, in December 2009, Street Smarts published a letter from a reader wondering if stop signs in private parking lots were enforceable by police. Read the entire letter and the response from Santa Cruz Police Capt. Steve Clark here.
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