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Talk back: Proposed parking ticket fine hike a good idea?

May 8, 2012 | 12:10 pm

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has proposed a $10 increase in parking tickets.

Parking in Los Angeles is stressful enough, but being ticketed might start putting a bigger dent in drivers' wallets if the City Council agrees to increase the fines for parking violations, The Times' David Zahniser reported.

Talk back LAThe increase, the sixth in the last seven years, would make parking tickets 70% to 90% more costly than they were when Antonio Villaraigosa was elected mayor in 2005. If the increases are approved, a street sweeping ticket would go up by $10 to $78, 73% higher than the penalty was in 2005. The fine for parking near a fire hydrant would reach $73, and parking in a fire lane would cost $68.

Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders said these fines make up about 3% of the city's revenue base, and that the Department of Transportation, which issues the tickets, needs to reach its financial targets "so that vital city services can be preserved."

The issue has pitted the city against residents, who argue that money going toward the fines would normally be used to help pay bills or be used for shopping or going out to lunch.

The fines have a much greater effect on working-class families in Koreatown, Westlake and other densely populated areas already strapped for parking, said Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival.

Parking tickets in Los Angeles already outstrip the cost of violations in neighboring cities.

During a live chat with Times editors and reporters, a reader named Frank wrote: "Forget fancy restaurants and sporting events - these parking fees can match weekly grocery budgets, college savings contributions, monthly prescription medication costs, and healthcare premiums... The fines are disconnected from the reality of the offense, which is making a street cleaning vehicle turn slightly left and then slightly right."

The current fine is already more than many residents make during a day of work, a reader named Tip Dunn posted on The Times' Facebook page, adding he's glad he ditched his car.

"Those are the people who are really suffering. Instead of using the money to support their families it is being used to close a hole of over spending. I understand there has to be a penalty but it is already too much. Plus every single street has different and confusing signs and times."

A reader named Nekosan commented that the proposed increases are a Band-Aid, not a solution: "A penalty is meant to address an infraction, not balance a budget. Reactionary management is short sighted and lazy.  The city of Los Angeles might try being proactive to actually solve problems."

What do you think? How would an increased parking fee affect your budget? Is your alarm set to go off a few minutes before street cleaning each week?


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Photo: A Los Angeles traffic officer walks back to her vehicle after a conversation with another officer on Echo Park Avenue Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times