By Jack Humphreville, December 17, 2013
LA WATCHDOG-Over the last six years, the average parking fine has increased almost 75% to a whopping $61, generating annual revenues for the City of over $150 million. At the same time, receipts from parking meters have soared by 125% to almost $50 million as a result of increased rates and the expanded hours of parking enforcement, including Saturday nights and Sundays in selected retail areas.
Of course, this massive $100 million increase in parking fines and revenues was concocted behind closed doors by the geniuses that occupy City Hall without any consultation with the Neighborhood Councils, home owner associations, local Chambers of Commerce, and other impacted stakeholders. Rather, City Hall was scrambling for ways to fund the huge increases in salaries, benefits, and pension contributions that were extracted by the campaign funding union leadership from the Garcetti led City Council and Mayor Villaraigosa.
So it is no wonder that the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative, a newly formed grassroots movement led by neighborhood activists, Steven Vincent and Jay Beeber, has gained considerable support throughout the City.
The LA Parking Freedom Initiative recognizes that parking is a core service provided by the City that is vital to the success of our local communities and their retail districts. Its goals are to develop a rational parking strategy and related polices in an open and transparent environment in conjunction with local stakeholders. It also believes that the City must reinvest parking revenues in the local community and are not just a source of cash for City Hall and its cronies.
This LA Parking Freedom Initiative also wants to restructure the administration of the parking enforcement regime into a citizen friendly organization as opposed to the current punitive system that results in an adversarial environment that negatively impacts the image of City Hall, the City Council, and the Mayor.
LA Parking Freedom Initiative has developed a number of polices related to local input and the level of fines. But rather than focus on specific polices in a vacuum, Mayor Eric Garcetti, the City Council’s Transportation Committee (headed by Mike Bonin), the Department of Transportation, and the City Administrative Officer should reach out to the organizers of the LA Parking Freedom Initiative, Neighborhood Councils, and other local stakeholders to develop the facts and figures regarding the City’s parking policies, its sources of revenues, and any related debt.
This analysis would include identifying the multiple sources of parking revenue throughout the City; the use of these funds; the impact on the City’s budget; the outsourcing of the management of the City’s parking facilities; the proposed 50%, $45 million increase in the Parking User’s Tax to 15% that was discussed last year; the colossal failure of Chicago’s public private partnerships for its parking meters and garages; the impact of the City’s parking policies on local communities; and any other relevant matters and policies.
By developing a common set of facts and figures and creating an open and transparent environment for constructive dialogue, the City and the citizens of Los Angeles should be able to develop a parking strategy and related policies that meet the needs of its citizens and their local communities.
The alternative is not very pretty.
Note: You can LIKE the LA Parking Initiative on Facebook (Parking Los Angeles) so that you can follow its progress. Just click here.)