By Elizabeth Chou
With a $245 million shortfall now anticipated in the city budget this year, Los Angeles officials may need to hold off on plans to reduce the city’s parking ticket fees, which can run to as high as $73 per fine, Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin said.
The controller poured some cold water this week on efforts by the mayor and other city leaders who have been hoping to ease the financial burden on Angelenos hit with the city’s parking fines.
It turns out the city is still heavily reliant on the money the tickets bring in each year, with three quarters of it used on salaries and administrative costs, and the rest on city services, Galperin said in a letter to the mayor and City Council.
Last year the city received $148 million in gross revenue from tickets, he said.
“As much as we would like to reduce fines, we currently rely on the revenues from citations,” Galperin wrote.
Before reducing the fines, the city should find ways to cut the administrative costs, such as by allocating dollars to “smart technologies and other reforms to help reduce costs” for the city’s parking enforcement program.
The report comes as the mayor’s office is preparing to unveil a plan for reducing parking fines, according to Jay Beeber, an activist who was part of a working group on parking reform.
Mayoral spokesman Carl Marziali said Galperin’s letter has not halted any plans to unveil a parking ticket reform proposal later this month, and that their office feels fine reductions “should not be taken off the table.”
Beeber said he does not know what the specific reduction amounts the mayor may have settled on, but the working group has recommended lowering fines by $10 for street sweeping and expired meter violations, as well as offering a discount for people who pay off their citations quickly.
Galperin continued today to urge that the reductions not be made. He said that with the projected budget shortfall, growing lawsuit payments and uncertainty about federal funding under President Donald Trump’s administration, “it’s my job to urge caution when it comes to anything that could potentially reduce our revenue.”
He noted that instead of the fee reductions, one area that might more quickly remove some of the hardship on Angelenos is to decrease penalties on people who are late on paying their fines. After a certain point, there is “diminishing returns” in the collection process, he said.
The website also provides a map to the areas of the city where people are most likely to be ticketed, and the parking enforcement division’s budget.
The revenue from parking tickets goes to pay for the salaries of 750 parking enforcement and traffic control officers, as well as administrative costs, according to transportation department spokesman Bruce Gillman.
The officers’ work goes beyond issuing citations, he said, and includes directing traffic on rainy days and when there are power outages, protests and emergency situations. The officers also deal with any complaints from residents of blocked driveways or other parking safety issues, he said.
The department has also been rolling out the “LA Express Park” program, an online, mobile application (http://www.laexpresspark.org/) that helps drivers locate and parking spots and pay meters, Gillman said. The program is available in downtown Los Angeles and was recently expanded to the Westwood Village area.
San Pedro, Venice and Hollywood are next up for getting the LA Express Park program, he said.