Council Debates Raising Fees for Parking Scofflaws

If the city ever gets around to ticketing them, these drivers in Lincoln Park could see some stiffer fines. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/ubrayj02/3255529582/##Ubrayj02/flickr##

In 2009, the City of Los Angeles began making life a little harder for parking scofflaws by raising the fees for various offenses for the first time in years.  In 2010, the City again “adjusted” the fees upward and a new report from the City Attorney shows that the city is considering another increase in what is becoming an annual tradition.  The City Council Transportation Committee will vote on whether to approve even higher parking ticket fees on Wednesday before the full Council considers them later this month.

For example, if one were to park their car on a sidewalk, as is apparently fashionable among UCLA students in part of Westwood, it would have cost $50 in 2009 before the first increase in ticket costs.  Over the last two years, the price increased to $55 then up to $60.  If the City Council acts on this proposal, which has already received the tacit approval of the Mayor, the price would rise again to $63, and increase of 26% over just over two and a half years.

While there are a lot of great reasons to raise the rates on people who break the law, this particular rate increase is to keep the city from digging itself an even deeper budget hole.  Not all of the funds from a parking ticket goes to the city enforcing the law.  Much of the funds go to the State of California.  A 2010 “adjustment” to the State budget is “reaollocating” $3 more to the State of California for each parking ticket issued anywhere in the State of California.  The City of Los Angeles is responding by raising the rates of the tickets it gives out to offset this grab by the state.

Unmentioned in all this legal discussion of parking rates is the report released in April by Comptroller Wendy Greuel showing that the City is negligent on collecting fees from repeat scofflaws.  Her office estimated that lack of follow-up is costing the city $15 million annually, which is about 11% of the total amount of tickets given out.

Overall, total revenue for the city from parking tickets has stayed relatively flat despite the increases. In fiscal year 2007-08 it collected about $127 million in total revenue, a year later about $133.6 million and last fiscal year about $131.8 million.

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