Pasadena Courthouse Takes on Wait Times

      LOS ANGELES (CN) - A new walk-up window that lets people pay Pasadena traffic tickets without setting foot inside the courthouse has cut down on wait times that in the past extended to two hours.
     Open from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, Supervising Judge Mary Thornton House called the new window a huge success and said it would reduce long waits and lines.
     The court would like to install more walk-up windows, but structurally the building can only accommodate one, House added.
     "With improvements like this we are attempting to meet the needs of the public but also want to keep our efficiency and customer service levels high," House said.
     Congestion has been an issue for the largest trial court in the nation with a series of budget cuts from the state Legislature. The court's presiding judge David Wesley has pointed out that the court had 6,097 employees in 2002 and now has just 4,168.
     The court last year announced the shutdown of eight L.A.-area courthouses in Pomona North, Whittier, Huntington Park, Beacon Street, San Pedro, Kenyon Juvenile, West Los Angeles and Malibu.
     At that time, the court said traffic cases would be folded into fewer courts, increasing the caseload of remaining courthouses.
     House noted that the court-consolidation plan led the Pasadena courthouse to assume Alhambra traffic cases.
     "So our traffic matters were doubled, which created very long lines and required people to go through weapons screening simply to pay a ticket," House said.
     One Yelp user, Rob G, complained about his visit to the Pasadena courthouse in January, noting in a one-star review that it had taken him two hours to pay a $238 traffic ticket.
     "There's at least 50+ people in line and there's only 2 windows open to assist," the Yelper wrote. "I'm waiting and slowly moving down the hall."
     The new window opened on Feb. 3.
     "People are very unhappy about delays and waiting in line but they have been kind enough not to take it out on our staff," said Judge House who is supervising judge for the courthouses in Pasadena, Alhambra, Glendale and Burbank. "I think the word is out that it's a legislative budget issue and that we're doing the best we can with our limited resources."
     People may now pay traffic and "fix-it" tickets at the new location, set traffic arraignment dates, reschedule payments and appearances, and submit documentation to prove the completion of community service or the repair of a problem with a vehicle, such as a broken taillight.
     Members of the public still need to visit the clerk's office to request traffic school, or pay traffic citations that have already been sent to collections.
     The window is on Garfield Avenue between Walnut Street and Thurgood Marshall Street on the west side of courthouse, opposite the police department.
     The Long Beach courthouse has taken similar measures to cut wait times, introducing "teller-style" window counters, open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., on the Broadway side of the new building.
     As well as traffic tickets, the public can use the counters to pay misdemeanor criminal penalties and fees, and receive certified copies of criminal case dockets.