Anyone who's been hit with a parking ticket in L.A. knows the price tag isn't cheap. You come back to a meter, only to see that it expired five minutes before you returned and there's a lovely envelope with a $60 fee waiting for you (sometimes more). For some people, that fine amounts to almost a day's wage.
Fret not, Angelenos, because you and the hole in your wallet aren't alone in your frustration, and one local activist group is looking to take those fines head-on and is working with the Mayor's office to change things. The Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative said it had a positive meeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti and his staff on Thursday, where a new "working group'' was convened to discuss the city's ticketing policy and lowering fines for simple violations like parking at a meter for too long. The group will meet regularly to collaborate on parking reform.
"The people of L.A. are over it," said Steven Vincent, co-founder of the L.A. Parking Freedom Initiative. "They want a solution and they want change. The current parking regimen just isn't working."
The mayor, Vincent said, admitted that L.A. needs parking reform and that the working group -- which has now been split into two areas focusing on policy and management -- should "think outside the box" to design a parking system that works for Angelenos and promotes business in the city.
"It seems there's a commitment on the mayor's side of the bargain to getting stuff done," Vincent said. "That's what we are all about."
The working group includes members of the Parking Freedom Initiative, local business owners, neighborhood council members and representatives from the L.A. Department of Transportation.
Parking activists hope to create a system that facilitates commerce, eases transit, and improves the quality of life throughout the city by easing the hassle of something as simple as parking a car. The Parking Freedom Initiative is proposing that the city adopt a $23 limit on parking fines; the current average is $68, according to the city's website.
The revenue collected from parking tickets should be placed in a special fund, Vincent said, instead of being used as income toward the city's general budget. Parking fines make up about three percent of the city's general fund -- about $160 million.
The working group hopes to have a solution to the city's parking problem within the next five months; the groups will meet again in three months, the mayor's office said.
"We know that parking tickets are frustrating for Angelenos and we are looking forward to working with this group of stakeholders to address citation issues and look at ways to apply technology to help people find parking and avoid tickets," said Garcetti spokeswoman Vicki Curry.
If this effort fails to bring about parking reform (what Vincent called "entrenched resistance to systemic change"), the L.A. Parking Freedom Initiative will take the issue to voters and place it on the March 5 ballot.
"A fine should be about how much it takes to get people to comply with regulation," Vincent said. "We think that's a reasonable standard. A day's wage isn't a reasonable standard -- that's taking money off the dinner table and out the gas tank. That's just not fair."