LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A proposed increase in parking fines could end up costing taxpayers nearly twice as much as they paid when Mayor Villaraigosa first took office.
The mayor has asked the City Council to approve a measure that would push fines as much as 94 percent higher than they were in 2005, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times.
If approved, the budget proposal would raise fines for parking on the wrong side of the street on street-sweeping days up to $78 — nearly double what several other cities in Los Angeles County charge.
Reporter David Zahniser with The Times told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that Villaraigosa wants to raise fines on a dozen parking violations — the sixth such request in seven years.
“What that would do is it would L.A. by far the most expensive place to get caught, for example, with a violation for parking on street sweeping day,” said Zahniser, who reported the increases have already outpaced the 18 percent rate of inflation since Villaraigosa’s inauguration.
The city currently collects $40 million more in parking fines than it did during Villaraigosa’s first year in office, and if the City Council approves the measure, violations will have soared 73 percent for street-sweeping violations and up to 94 percent for other penalties.
Zahniser said the mayor’s office has been relatively transparent in its justification for the proposed increases.
“They said actually it’s important to preserve vital city services, and one way was to allow the Department of Transportation — which actually issues the tickets — to reach its targets,” he said.
While over one-third of the $134 million collected in parking fines last year came from cars parked illegally during street-cleaning hours, a number of community groups are pushing back against the proposal, particularly over the hardship it would present to residents in high-density neighborhoods.
Members of the L.A.-based Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) are among those who oppose the measure.
“That’s a group that represents renters, and that organization basically says, ‘Look, in a lot of neighborhoods, there’s so many apartment buildings and so few spaces, that it’s inevitable that people are going to get nailed,” said Zahniser.
A spokesman for Villaraigosa’s office would not respond to claims that the increases would pose any additional financial burden to residents, adding that parking fines account for just 3 percent of the city’s total revenue.