A daily drama plays out on the streets of Los Angeles as drivers with limited parking options scramble out of bed to beat the parking police before street sweeping restrictions kick in.
If Los Angeles’ City Council approves lame duck Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s new budget proposal, violators will be paying even more for those violations as the budget includes provisions that would raise city parking fines for the sixth time in seven years -- raising the cost of a street sweeping ticket to a wallet-busting $78. Other parking fines would also go up and would cost offenders 70 to 90 percent more than when Villaraigosa took office in July of 2005.
The hikes would make L.A.’s parking tickets higher than any neighboring municipality and the highest in L.A. County. It’s no secret that the city desperately needs revenue to fill a $238-million shortfall this year, but residents are already fuming over the possibility of even higher parking fines - especially those in higher density areas with limited street parking and a poorer populace.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office said that parking fines only account for three percent of the city’s revenue, but economists have noted that L.A. parking fines have increased far faster than inflation.
Is raising parking penalties the way to help close the budget gap? Would the fines unduly punish the poor or just the irresponsible? Where else can the city look for much-needed revenue?
Larry Gross, executive director, The Coalition for Economic Survival (tenants group)
John Van Horn, editor, Parking Today, a monthly magazine for the commercial and institutional parking industry
Donald Shoup, Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA