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Informed Opinions on Today's Topics : Traffic-Control Fee Waivers Draw Support


An ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council in January requires organizers of parades and other special events to pay traffic-control fees to cover the cost of police and other personnel needed to manage crowds and cars. The intent of the ordinance is to recoup some of the costs now absorbed by a city in serious fiscal straits, but the application of fees has been inconsistent at best. A $50,000 fee was waived for the Academy Awards, yet the American Music Awards were made to pay. Perhaps a greater impact is being felt on the smaller, local parades. In Canoga Park, organizers fear they won't be able to afford an estimated $30,000 fee for next year's Memorial Day Parade. The fees, organizers argue, will put an end to many community events throughout the Valley.


Q: Should the city of Los Angeles charge traffic-control fees to communities holding parades and other special events?

Councilman Joel Wachs, who represents the southeast Valley:

"I really want to encourage genuine community events that reflect a broad base of the community. I think the city really needs to foster a sense of neighborhood and a sense of community identity and community pride. Those events which really reflect a broad cross-section of the community, in which a lot of the community can participate, I think the city should encourage those. The fees would probably make it impossible for some of the communities to have an annual event. Maybe there could be a limit on the number of them and things of that nature, but basically I think we really want to encourage communities tohave at least one event like that in a year."

Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the northwest Valley:

"It is my hope that we will be able to continue to waive traffic-control fees and other related city fees for nonprofit organizations who are providing a community benefit. With the city's budget problems, this may be a service that we will not be able to afford. Naturally, any future waivers must be relatively low cost to the city and of significant community benefit."

Aline Hausman, executive director of the Canoga Park Chamber of Commerce, co-sponsors of the Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade:

"I think they have to be more specialized on who they are going to charge these fees. By making it general, although there are some groups that can afford to pay the fees, the small communities will be hurt because they cannot come up with the fees for their parades."

Ed Henry, a retired naval officer from Chatsworth who has participated in Valley parades for the last 15 years:

"I am a member of the Woodland Hills Shrine Club clown unit and we participate in the Valley parades. I can only say that if the charges were passed on to (the organizers) in any amount, we would be unable to participate in the parades and therefore we would miss the fun."

Councilwoman Joy Picus, who represents the West Valley:

"When a special event is community-based and it's staffed by volunteers and it's sponsored by a nonprofit organization, and I'm thinking specifically of the Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade, then I certainly believe that the group should be exempt from the fees because in all likelihood they wouldn't be able to hold the event if they had to pay them." I supported the legislation that had a charge, but I was thinking of major profit-making organizations that make money at the events and therefore should pay the fee."

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