Ted Chen, Scott Spiro
Mayor Eric Garcetti's new budget calls for the hiring of 50 more parking enforcement officers in an apparent attempt to generate revenue for the city. But not everyone is happy about it. Ted Chen reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.
No thanks to parking tickets, Joe Miceli says his popular namesake Italian restaurant is losing customers, who, in between their bites of pasta, often forget to run out and feed the meters -- and then get bit.
"I've had customers and they've yelled at me and they've put this ticket down and said you're paying my ticket," Miceli said.
Miceli might get more of that. According to projections in the Los Angeles city budget, the city will add 50 additional part-time officers, who will write some 200,000 more citations, netting $5 million in more revenue.
"It sends the wrong message to the city. It sends the wrong message to the citizens, to the business owners, to anyone who thinks they want to come here," said Jay Beeber, of losangelesparking.org.
Activists Beeber and Steven Vincent are rallying Angelenos behind a ballot measure next March to overhaul the city's parking enforcement.
They point to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said last year while he was running for office, "tickets should be used to manage parking, not as a revenue source, and that is what I am going to look to do."
"They are continuing to look at the parking revenue as a way of covering up the fact they're not doing a very good job of managing the budget," Vincent said.
City transportation department officials say the part-time officers are needed to fill in when full time officers are used for special events. And that it's not about writing more tickets.
"The overall budget for the department and the city depends on general fund revenue and this is one of the important sources of general fund revenue," said Robert Andalon, an executive officer of the city's transportation department.
Gregory Savelli, the chief of parking enforcement, said the department's officers aren't lying in wait.
"They're just doing their job by patrolling the areas and if they see a violation they enforce it," he said.
But Miceli doesn't buy it.
"Le's give tickets to people running lights and give tickets to people who are speeding," he said. "Let's save some lives. I don't know anyone who was ever killed because they didn't put a nickel in a meter."