Taking a page from Chicago, L.A. considers privatizing parking
Facing the worst city budget crisis in decades, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is gambling on parking meters -- and the bet could prove expensive for Southern California drivers.
Villaraigosa hopes to auction off meters as well as six city-owned garages and use the money to save his effort to expand the Los Angeles Police Department and preserve other city services.
The mayor points to Chicago, the only other major city to follow that privatization path. That city's mayor, Richard M. Daley, has turned four parking garages, 36,000 parking meter spaces and the Chicago Skyway toll road over to private companies, receiving $3.5 billion for the long-term leases.
But to make their investment profitable, those companies raised meter rates to $3.50 an hour in choice spots earlier this year, triggering a driver uprising that left meters mangled by tire irons and coin slots filled with Super Glue.
-- Phil Willon