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A Third Greuel Parking Audit Shows DOT in Dissaray

12:53 PM PDT on June 9, 2011

It is doubtful that the media will give the same attention to today's report, "Audit of the City’s Parking Meter Collection Process" by City Comptroller Wendy Greuel as it did the "Gold Card" report a couple of weeks ago or the "Parking Cops Taking Part in a Porn Video" report on NBC from earlier this year, but the most recent report might be the most damning.  The city really doesn't know how many parking meters it has?  Among the findings:

    • The city doesn't know how many parking meters it currently owns.  They think its around 36,000 but they're not sure.  It sort of makes you wonder how the Department can even claim that its maximizing revenue from the parking program.
    • The city purchased bad "hand held meter reading devices" which cost the city $200,000 a year in maintenance.  This again leads to questions about whether the city is maximizing parking revenue.  The devices which inventory the collections routinely break.
    • LADOT's contract management is poor.  Contractors collect the funds from meters, but charge the city whether the meter is broken or not.  While meter readers are supposed to report broken meters, they usually don't.
    • Because the city collects fees on a calendar schedule, more frequently used meters are collected from too infrequently and other meters could actually go longer without seeing an attendant.

Maximizing parking revenue has been a hot topic in City Hall as the Mayor has pushed a privitization plan for city garages that was torpedoed by the Council.  In the wake of that proposal, more Council Members discussed how to improve revenue flow from parking.  City Council Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl has pushed the issue, referring to parking revenue as "gold in the gutter."

While the "Gold Card" Audit initially brought a political response from the Mayor's Office.  Today, the LADOT sounded more humble and accepting of Greuel's findings. 

""The Department agrees with the findings and recommendations in the Controller’s audit.  We’ve already implemented many of the recommendations and have replaced most of the older meters with new “Card and Coin” meters and pay stations that automatically advise if service is required.  Additionally, the Department is looking at collection frequencies to maximize efficiency," writes Bruce Gillman, the public relations director for LADOT.

While the report does recognize the improvements gained from the new meters and pay stations, it closes the report with fifteen more recommendations for the agency to follow.  Among the most urgent action items were discovering the exact number of meters and devising a way to maintain an accurate count, periodically monitor and analyze
collection frequencies of subzones with the goal of setting the frequencies at their optimum number, and establish a formal and documented plan for filing and maintaining documents related to daily collection records and .support for the invoices.

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