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Audit: Los Angeles officials don't know how many parking lots are in the city (updated)

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The City of Los Angeles receives $85 million a year in taxes from parking lot operators, but an audit released today finds the city could be entitled to more funds if it knew how many parking lots actually exist.

The audit from Controller Wendy Greuel identifies 1,900 parking lots in the city. However, officials are unable to say if that is a complete inventory. The Office of Finance contracts with a company called The Parking Network to track unreported parking lots or lot operators who are not paying their fair share of the parking occupancy tax.

“One of my greatest concerns for the city is the uncollected debt owed to the city, including parking lot operators who owe the city millions of dollars,” Greuel said. “The city needs to have processes in place to ensure, with a high degree of certainty, that uncollected money isn’t being left on the table at a time when the city needs it most.”

Tracking the inventory of parking lots is complicated by the fact that lots often have multiple addresses or entryways. Many of the lots are also cash-based, which makes it difficult for city auditors to track how much business they do.

The general manager for the Office of Finance also noted that high-turnover in lot ownership makes it difficult to keep an accurate listing of revenue-generating lots. 

The audit did not specify how much more money the city could be entitled to. However, a report released earlier this year by the Commission on Revenue Efficiency found Los Angeles could be missing out on $21 million-to-$25 million a year. The commission, which includes former L.A. City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski and a candidate for city controller, Ron Galperin, recommended that all parking operators be required to accept credit card payments to better track their business.

The Los Angeles Parking Association represents about 70 percent o the lots in the city. The group's Greg Spiker said he agreed with the findings.

"Bottom line is it’s our view that you’re looking at 95 percent of the operators here in the city of Los Angeles are responsible operators. You’re looking at about 5 percent or maybe less that are the scofflaws," he said. 

While the Los Angeles Parking Association supports additional revenue controls, Spiker noted that it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

“We’re generally supportive of that, but we’re not supportive of imposing that on every single operator in the city. That doesn’t make any sense," he said.

This post has been updated. 

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