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LA City Hall Reacts Quickly To Parking Ticket Flap

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textalerts180 LA City Hall Reacts Quickly To Parking Ticket Flap

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A CBS2/KCAL9 News report about an increase in parking tickets bringing in more revenue for the city of LA has gotten a quick response from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office.

One of the leaders of a ballot initiative on parking tickets who appeared in the news report was called to the mayor’s office Wednesday to discuss the issues. Jay Beeber says tying budget revenue to writing parking tickets has got to stop. He met with the deputy mayor of the budget and innovation committee and a roomful of mayoral staff members.

“We were in there with about 10 or 15 people with all the people in charge of the budget, and we were happy to see that, happy to see the response. Obviously, this has hit a nerve with the people of Los Angeles and, obviously, has hit a nerve at City Hall,” said Beeber, who helped develop the LA Parking Freedom Initiative.

The news report Tuesday night and the City Hall meeting that followed focused on the hiring of 50 more parking enforcement officers, which would bring in millions of dollars of additional revenue for a city that’s struggling to balance the budget.

When political reporter Dave Bryan asked Garcetti about it Tuesday, he brushed it aside.

“I looked at the line about how it will bring in $5 million in revenue, so their conclusion is that this is being done to help the city balance its budget,” Bryan said.

“No, that was probably a piece of bad reporting. We’re not looking to increase revenue from this,” Garcetti said. “In fact, this should be about making sure businesses get their customers there. I, as mayor, am certainly not using this to balance our budget. But, to be clear, there are no new parking tickets being raised this year and we don’t have a higher quota. This is just something that’s going to continue at the same level this year.”

But a city document — a budget supplement Garcetti released called “Revenue Outlook” — makes it clear that hiring more parking enforcement officers translates into raising more revenue for the city through tickets.

The document reports the city, in the fiscal year 2014-2015, would assume $2 million in additional revenue from an increased collection rate and $3 million from adding 50 part-time officers beginning in October. The annual impact of the additional staffing would be $4 million.

Garcetti released a statement saying the additional officers hired at the Department of Transportation are needed to reduce overtime for existing officer and maintain a minimum level of operation.

The mayor insists this move is not about balancing the budget, and that money raised through parking tickets represents a mere fraction  — 0.00037 percent to be exact — of the city’s budget.

Beeber says changes may be coming.

“We want to uncouple from the general fund the fines and fees that coming from parking meters, and [the mayor's office] thought it was a good idea. We’re going to have to figure out how to do that, because that’s about $170 million with everything all together,” Beeber said.

After the meeting at City Hall, a spokesperson for the mayor says a working group will, among other things, evaluate how ticketing fines are distributed and how the ticketing process might be changed through technology.

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