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L.A. group proposes to cap parking tickets at $23

| June 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Drivers should only pay $23 when they’re issued parking tickets that don’t involve public safety, say members of the Parking Freedom Initiative (PFI), a citizens group that formed in Los Angeles to combat what it sees as abuses in the way the city enforces parking.

What’s more, City Hall should create a process for involving neighborhoods in the development and revision of local regulations and fees, says the group. PFI is also requesting that revenue from parking tickets be held in a separate fund apart from the general city budget. Calling it the “Special Parking Revenue Fund,” the group says the money collected there would go towards transportation infrastructure projects, such as sidewalk repairs, electric vehicle charging stations, and street signage. Should the city fail to support these proposals, members say they’ll consider taking the reforms to the ballot box next spring.

Currently, the average parking ticket costs $68, with $45.50 of that amount dedicated to the city’s general fund, according to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. The monies are used to pay for basic city services.

PFI argues that the city relies on the funds to fix budget problems unrelated to parking and transportation. Revenue from parking tickets has increased dramatically in the last decade: from almost $110 million in 2003 to approximately $160 million in 2014, according to the mayor’s budget. Because the year has yet to end, PFI members have described the parking revenue detailed in the mayor’s budget as a “de facto quota.”

“They have to go out there and get that money one way or another,” said Steven Vincent, a financial market analyst who founded the PFI.

Critics further argue that the existing fee structure is hard on the poor, especially in dense neighborhoods, where the parking supply is low. The capped fee proposed by PFI is pegged to the median hourly wage for the L.A. metro area, said Vincent.

Parking tickets involving public safety, such as cars illegally parked in front of fire hydrants or in spaces marked for the disabled, would be exempt from the cap, he added.

Capping fees would mean a significant reduction in the city’s budget, but Vincent says that the initial decrease could be offset by bond sales. Over time, the money collected in the Special Parking Revenue Fund could be invested in projects that increase city revenue via taxes and fees.

Vincent suggests, for example, that the city could build more parking facilities. Their profits could fill public coffers and encourage more visitors to nearby businesses.

LA parking meters

From The Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative.

Whether such a recommendation fits with L.A.’s long-term plan to increase public transit and support other transportation modes, such as bicycling, is not yet clear. The office of Mayor Eric Garcetti offered no immediate response to PFI’s suggestions but later issued an email statement from spokeswoman Vicki Curry, who said City Hall was looking forward to meeting with PFI.

Earlier this year Garcetti’s administration invited the group to an official city working group gathered to explore possible changes to the city’s parking enforcement. The PFI will formally present its recommendations to the group later this week.

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Category: Miscellaneous, Regulations

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