Desperate to close a budget deficit, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Monday urged the City Council to ignore the advice of the city administrative officer and push forward on plans to privatize city parking garages.
Last week, the City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said no company had submitted a bid to operate nine city parking facilities.
Mayor Villaraigosa's answer: the City Council should sweeten the deal for private operators by eliminating restrictions on how much they could charge for parking.
In a statement, Villaraigosa "strongly urged" the Council "to immediately adopt a robust parking concession agreement." The said the City Council's request for proposals should be "stripped of the modifications, exceptions and carve-outs previously allowed at the request of a few members – which will maximize the value of these assets."
Businesses that operate near the city's parking structures have lobbied hard to keep parking rates low.
But the mayor and Council have been counting on $52 million from the deal to close a budget deficit for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Without the money, Santana said the city must add unpaid furlough days for city workers.
At a rally of city workers, labor union leader Cheryl Parisi urged the Council to do what it takes to privatize parking garages.
“They’ve got to get it done, absolutely. Too much is at stake.”
Councilman Jose Huizar, who’s running for re-election, joined union leaders in rejecting that option.
“For me, that’s a last resort," Huizar said. "We may not have any other options, but at the same time, let’s not make it the first thing out the door."
Huizar sits on the City Council's budget committee.
Right now, most L.A. city workers must take either 16 or 26 unpaid furlough days a year.