LA City Council to vote on soliciting bids for parking garage contracts

The Los Angeles City Council is poised to vote today on whether to solicit bids for a 50-year lease on 10 city-owned parking garages.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said a $53.2 million portion of the anticipated revenue from such a deal is needed to keep the budget for this fiscal year from going into the red.

He warned that if the council decides not to enter into a so-called "public-private partnership" on the parking garages, the city will be forced to resort to additional layoffs and furloughs to close the deficit.

The current budget specifically allows up to 1,000 additional layoffs starting in October if a deal on parking garages does not materialize, Santana said.

He added the city may also require most civilian employees to take 10 additional furlough days to compensate for the loss of anticipated revenue from the parking garages. Currently, they are taking 16 or 26 unpaid days off.

The parking garages in the proposal are at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles; Cherokee, Hollywood & Highland and Cinerama Dome in Hollywood; Broxton in Westwood; Dickens in Sherman Oaks; Friar Street in Van Nuys; Larchmont in Hancock Park, Robertson in West L.A.; and Ventura Boulevard in Studio City.

Under the arrangement contemplated by Santana, the city would receive a lump sum up front, and also a share of the private operators' annual revenue from the parking garages.

City Council President Eric Garcetti on Tuesday acknowledged that some of his colleagues have concerns about leasing the parking garages, but said, "Most of these [parking garages] lose money for taxpayers every single year. If, over the long term, we can actually make money, that would actually be a prudent thing.

"Some of the folks (council members) who wanted to avoid furloughs and layoffs need to make sure they make this deal happen," Garcetti added. "You can't have it both ways. You can't kill this deal by a thousand cuts and argue against layoffs and furloughs."

Santana said on Tuesday that the council should make a policy decision that "we shouldn't be in the parking business. It's not our core service. We don't do it well."

Some council members have suggested that the city look for other ways to profit from the parking garages without having to lease them, but Santana said that would take time.

"We need the money today, to help deal with an immediate deficit that we have in our budget, to help replenish our reserve and to help us mitigate a projected $320 million deficit next year," Santana said, adding that he hopes to have a deal by December, at the latest.