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Villaraigosa's New Parking Ticket Plan Demonstrates Backward Thinking

Amanda Kantor |
February 26, 2013 | 11:24 a.m. PST

Contributor

The Mayor has proposed increasing parking ticket fines. (Kansas Sebastian, Creative Commons)
The Mayor has proposed increasing parking ticket fines. (Kansas Sebastian, Creative Commons)
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seems to finally be making more than incremental progress in policy in L.A. In December, he made his 2008 solar plan somewhat come to life. Last week, he unveiled a bike plan. In his words, “We are turning up the heat.” We have yet to see whether the new Mayor, come May 21, will find it in him to hit the ground running, or whether he will trip on his own shoe laces, roll over in the dust and claim someone else tied his shoe laces.

One of Villaraigosa’s logs in the fire is an increase in parking ticket fines. In an entirely uninventive demonstration of backward thinking, Villaraigosa attempts to patch up our deficit problem. All this time, I’ve been waiting for action, and now I’d rather get the hose.

Several of the candidates for L.A. Mayor have disagreed with the current administration’s way of thinking, including Kevin James: “I would do much differently in office than Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his foot soldiers,” he said during last weeks debate at CSULA. He was referring to Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, who were granted the opportunity as City Councilpeople to steer a different course from the top.

In contrast to an administration that prefers to blindly ask for money, James conveys a much more practical approach to which I can relate: “Nowadays, when people get a parking ticket they throw it in a drawer instead of paying it. That leaves revenue in collections, rather than bringing it back to the city.”

The spectrum of emotions I exhibit when I find a white and red envelope under my windshield wiper is a sight to see. The ticket gets thrown in the drawer, not just because I can’t afford to lose $63, but because I feel like lashing out at the city for its unintelligible parking signs and impossible one-hour meters. Please, you can’t even grab an Acai Energizer to go at Robek’s without running into your best friend’s dog walker and missing that one-hour mark.

In addition, says James, Villaraigosa’s strategy is bad for tourism: “Exorbitant parking ticket fees leave a sour taste on L.A. Don’t chase people away from our city and businesses.”

I credit the L.A. Times for capturing this quote from the Mayor’s office: “A $10 hike in parking fines will help make a dent in the city’s $1.1 billion budget deficit.” A dent? If I didn’t know Villaraigosa better, I would picture a shriveled man gripping the leg post of a desk, hidden away from blinding fluorescent lighting, sipping on his own tears at the thought of the utter desperation it takes to come up with an idea like that. Unfortunately, I don’t think he has the wherewithal to be so embarrassed. You are supposed to be one of the most capable men in the world—come up with something better.

This is a leadership issue. A leader is a person who inspires the success of their team, so that not only do their team members want to do their best, but they also get rewarded for doing their best. When I park on a street in WeHo that has four parking signs that not only seem to conflict with each other, but also strain my eyes, with portions that are covered with spray paint, I feel like no matter how much I want to succeed at parking that day, I cannot.

In areas like Echo Park, where Eric Garcetti and the neighborhood councils have been trying to attract economic activity, the city has passed laws to reduce parking requirements for businesses and housing projects. This leaves people with no option but to park on the street.

According to the L.A. Times, most tickets issued in L.A. are on street-sweeping day. When have you ever seen any street swept in L.A.? Unless it’s a homeless man trying to make a nice corner for himself with the brim of his hat. It is a fact that whole parts of L.A. do not have weekly street-sweeping, and that a few years ago, Villaraigosa proposed the idea of putting street-sweeping signs on streets where the City had no intention of sending a street-sweeper.

The good news is, any time Villaraigosa suggests a new initiative, there’s a waiting period of about six years before execution. By that time, I’m hoping James will get the chance to prove the weight of his word. After all, James has a point when he says that Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry have had their say: the last proposal to increase parking fines in L.A. was decided by the City Council unanimously.

 

Reach Contributor Amanda Kantor here; follow her here.



 

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