Here's an idea that both residents and budget wonks might cheer about. A Los Angeles city panel today pushed forward a plan that seeks to take 1,140 parking meters off the streets. Although the city faces a projected deficit of $216 million next year -- parking meters generate about $48 million annually -- the idea is actually meant to save money.
At issue are the resources put into maintenance, operation, and enforcement patrols of metered areas that have low demand, a situation that often happens because of land use changes, say parking officials. For example, when a Home Depot store was built on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, its free parking lot competed with on-street meters, which now average under $10 in revenue each month.
Over the past few years, Los Angeles has been upgrading its army of 39,000 meters to accept both coin and cards. Officials say the new meters hardly break.
Remaining are about 1,430 of the old coin meters -- they're said to be broken 10 to 15 percent of the time -- and parking officials have calculated that it would take seven years to recoup the costs of upgrading the ones targeted for removal, which altogether generate an average of $135,000 each year. It would take a team of five about two weeks to remove the meters, replacing blocks with time limit signs that parking officers enforce by chalking tires.
As for what to do with all those meters, the city will salvage parts and -- when it can -- sell meters to other cities. City Councilman Tom LaBonge suggested selling them to the public as a fundraiser for the Cultural Affairs Department, to which he offered a fun marketing gimmick: "Get them in time for Christmas!"
Whether or not these meters will be removed so you can gift them to friends and family will be taken up by the full City Council at a future meeting.
NOTE: Eight meters at three locations were removed from the map because of incomplete geographical data.
Source: Los Angeles Department of Transportation
Map: Brian Frank
Numbered icons courtesy of Brennan.