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Thursday, Aug 18, 2022
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Ripping Up the Ticket Book

If you live, work or own a business in L.A. you have no doubt had to contend with a scarcity of automobile parking, aggressive enforcement and high fines and fees. And you have also no doubt wondered why parking conditions are the way they are and what can be done to improve them.  The Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative has been conducting outreach and research since November with the goal of understanding and identifying problems and solutions to the parking issues facing our city. Here are our conclusions and our recommendations. All of the stresses and inadequacies of our current parking regime come down to one simple truth: the city government treats parking as a source of revenue to fund the general budget. Yes, parking enforcement is necessary to a well-managed city environment. We can’t have cars hogging spots in our commercial districts all day, blocking fire hydrants and abusing handicapped parking spots. We need to incentivize against that kind of behavior and fines are one method for achieving that. But the practices currently in place do not effectively enforce or manage parking. The City of Los Angeles is known and loved as a city of many small centers. Whereas many other large cities have a single center that is the hub of most commercial, economic and social activity, L.A. has many smaller hubs. This is a valuable asset that should be protected, nurtured and developed. Angelenos frequently travel from one area to another to interact and transact with each other. We may start the day in Studio City, commute to work in Westwood, visit a friend for dinner in Hancock Park, go see a movie with family in Hollywood and then stop off at the Trader Joe’s in Toluca Lake on the way back home. All of these interactions and transactions are core components of the character and economic health of our city. They represent economic and social value for ourselves and the businesses that serve us as well as tax revenue for the city government. Available, accessible and affordable parking is required to facilitate each of these interactions and transactions. Presumably, the city government would recognize its role in helping the citizenry conduct the comings and goings of daily life in a metropolis. It would recognize that it has a duty to provide a complete managed parking system as a vital public service. But that’s not what we get from our city government. Business owners in our commercial districts widely complain that customers are driven away by abusive fines and aggressive enforcement. I personally can identify several districts that I no longer frequent because the meter times are too short for my intended visit, the hours of enforcement are wrong and the risk of an excessive fine is too high. Residents complain that there is a scarcity of parking. Homeowners complain that overflow parking from commercial districts impacts their neighborhoods. Conflicting, confusing and hidden parking signage abounds everywhere. And riding in the wake of the chaos a legion of enforcers shakes down the frustrated and harried populace. It does not have to be this way. If we summon the political will we can reform our parking system in the image of a world-class, 21st century city. Our reform plan mandates that the City will manage our parking resources to facilitate commerce, ease of transit and livability. The principal components of our reform plan include: • Establishment of a new Los Angeles Parking Services Administration charged with a clearly defined public service mission. Its field service officers would be neighborhood based and tasked with not only writing citations but also with educating, informing and assisting motorists in parking correctly and safely, facilitating the flow of traffic and monitoring for parking and traffic issues. • Secure and expand the Special Parking Revenue Fund  End the diversion of funds to the City’s general fund, include parking fine revenue in the fund and establish it as a parking supply infrastructure investment fund that generates positive cash flow for the city. • Revision of the parking fine schedule, distinguishing between violations that represent a public hazard and those which are incidental in nature, with a cap on fines for incidental violations at the median hourly wage for Los Angeles. • Establish a decentralized, locally based input and review process for the setting and alteration of parking hours and fees so they reflect the real-world needs of residents, shoppers, merchants and businesses. We are excited that the mayor’s office has engaged us in a Working Group on Parking Reform. We are optimistic that we can move towards a new parking paradigm in a timely manner. And we remain open to discussion and involvement from interested Angelenos as we finalize the details of our reform proposals. Let’s get this done. Steven Vincent is a Studio City resident and founder of the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative, which seeks to reform L.A. parking laws. For more information, visit www.ParkingLosAngeles.org.

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