Gordon Tokumatsu, Dennis Lahti
Facing a $238 million budget deficit, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is calling for a $10 hike in parking fines. Street-sweeping fines could hit $78. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on May 8, 2012.
Facing a $238 million budget deficit, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is calling for a $10 hike in parking fines.
The proposed increase means street-sweeping fines could reach $78, nearly twice any other city in Los Angeles County. The change would bring in about $40 million a year, according to the mayor's budget.
But that could cause problems for people living in some high-density, apartment-heavy Los Angeles neighborhoods.
Residents like Allysun Knapp park on the street because they have to, but on street-sweeping day, they have to move out -- or else.
"I have to wake up five minutes before I'm down, run down there and move my car," Knapp, adding that she suspects the proposal is in line with what she described as city officials' "anything to make more money" mentality.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was candid about his reasons for putting the fee hike in his budget.
"Yes, it's true," Villaraigosa said. "We're raising fines because we're looking for revenue."
Many less-wealthy drivers may feel the pinch in a bigger way, according to Larry Gross of the "Coalition for Economic survival" if the council approves the hike.
"It's $10 on top of their rent going up," Gross said. "On top of their utility bills going up."
Ticket costs for blocking street sweeping could go from $68 to $78. Parking in front of a Hydrant could rise from $63 to $73, and parking in a red zone would go from $88 to $98 under the mayor's plan.
"We think if you break the law, you should pay a fee," Gross said. "The question is, how much?"
Some motorists said a fee hike will likely not deter poor parking.
"People who get parking tickets, get them," said Robert Byrd.
Of the $134 million collected in parking fines in 2011, more than a third came from cars illegally parked during street-cleaning hours.
And the mayor did have a response when asked about motorists who have no choice but to park on the street, and can't afford to pay the extra fine every time they get ticket.
"Come on. Are you kidding me?" Villaraigosa said. "People don't have to park illegally. When they do, they get fined for it."
The mayor's budget is now awaiting approval from the Los Angeles City Council.
The proposal got a lot of chatter on the NBCLA Facebook page:
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