L.A. Now Live: Discuss L.A. parking fines, San Pedro meter removal
Times City Hall reporter David Zahniser will join L.A. Now Live for a Web chat at 9 a.m. to discuss parking fines in Los Angeles. The chat will be hosted by Times staff writer Rebecca Trounson.
On Monday, San Pedro civic leaders conducted a ceremonial parking meter beheading to celebrate an extraordinary victory: the removal of 645 parking meters in their community and nearby Wilmington.
The campaign to remove the meters was launched in 2009, after Los Angeles officials — urgently looking for cash — quadrupled the cost of parking in downtown San Pedro, from 25 cents to a dollar an hour. The backlash from merchants and neighborhood leaders was strong and swift. The change was driving away customers in the middle of a recession, they argued.
Councilman Joe Buscaino said his district was competing with other communities — Torrance, Long Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes, among others — where parking is offered free at shopping malls and elsewhere. "We're surrounded by business-friendly cities, and one of the reasons people weren't spending money were the parking meter rates," he said.
Buscaino's initiative also cut the rates of the remaining meters in downtown San Pedro to 75 cents an hour in some places and 50 cents in others.
Meanwhile, earlier this summer, 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. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa backed the increases as part of an effort to eliminate a $238-million budget shortfall.
Photo: L.A. Department of Transportation worker Duane Odom adds another old parking meter to those just removed along Pacific Avenue in San Pedro on Monday. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times