Parking mistakes will be taking a bite out of drivers' budgets to help… (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times )
Fines for dozens of Los Angeles parking violations will jump another $5 this summer, as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council continue shifting more of the city's budget woes onto motorists.
In what has become a recurring search for summer cash at City Hall, the council voted unanimously to increase parking fines for the sixth time in seven years. The increases will apply to the 2.5 million city parking tickets issued annually and are expected to generate an extra $8.4 million in the next year for the city's general fund budget, which pays for basic services such as police and firefighters.
In a second vote, the council raised zoo admission fees by $1 — the fifth increase in five years. The move is expected to raise an additional $720,000 per year for city coffers.
Villaraigosa backed both sets of increases as part of an effort to eliminate a $238-million budget shortfall. Since he took office in 2005, the cost of zoo admission for children 12 and younger has more than doubled, from $5 to $12. The price for senior citizens went from $7 to $14 over the same period.
Under the parking proposal, the fine for an expired meter will increase to $63; tickets for parking on street sweeping day will cost $73; and parking in a red zone will carry a $93 penalty. A few violations — those dealing with handicapped parking —will go up by $10.
The council made both decisions before going on a two-week break.
Councilman Eric Garcetti, who is running for mayor, said the increases would help the city "stay on track" financially. "We need more revenue," said Councilwoman Jan Perry, another mayoral candidate.
Villaraigosa initially wanted fines for roughly a dozen violations, including illegally parking on street sweeping day, to go up by $10. After the public complained, council members opted for a $5 increase on a larger number of parking violations.
Both proposals were criticized by Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, which advocates on behalf of low-income renters. He said working-class families would struggle to pay their parking fines, which are higher than in any neighboring city.
"This is all about generating more money for the city, rather than justly penalizing a person for the infraction they're committing," he said.
Cary Brazeman, a candidate for city controller, said the increases will make the city a less livable place.
"It's ironic that the city is considering this step at the same time they are reducing parking requirements for many housing projects, which pushes more people to park on the street with no other options," he said.