Villaraigosa Considering Privatizing Metered Street Parking

Privatizing street parking.

There are few transportation-related measures that will generate more controversy, more heated discussion and more strange bedfellows than a proposal that combines flashpoint issues from across the spectrum: Smart growth, privatization, parking, urban planning and budget issues all wrapped up in one neat package.

And now, Los Angeles is considering privatizing our street parking. 

On Monday, a joint meeting of the Budget & Finance and Transportation Committees, a report was presented from the Office of the City Administrator about the benefits of the city selling the rights to maintain and collect revenues from the currently-owned city parking.  In attendance were Councilmembers Bernard Parks, Bill Rosendahl, and Wendy Greuel.  Also present were a small horde of business interests looking to cash-in.

It’s not like we’re going to wake up tomorrow and the city will have handed over control of its parking meters.  However, because the city is looking to collect a one-shot fee to plug a budget hole for the next two budget years;  unless someone stands up to fight the proposal we could end up seeing a rushed process that is all about the city’s short-term budget needs.  Such a deal could leave Los Angeles with another significant hurdle to bringing the kind of transportation reform the city really needs.

I was planning a giant post on the issue for tomorrow, but realized that it's just too big to write about in one sitting.  So, as the city begins to examine the possibilities of temporarily closing a budget loophole at the expense of a revenue stream for the long-term; Streetsblog will devote a significant portion of time and effort into examining the pitfalls and opportunities of privatizing city parking.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about some of the transportation reform issues that are being experienced in Chicago, a city that recently privatized its street parking.

Thursday, we’ll discuss some of the issues about how to price the contract from potential bidders and how to control rate increases.

We'll take a break on Friday, since I'll be out of town.

Next, we’ll talk about some of the long-term transportation issues the city should consider in drawing its RFQ.

We'll wrap next Tuesday with a synopsis and try and answer any questions that come up in the comments section.