Eric Garcetti caught the attention of voters during last year's mayoral race when he raised concerns about parking tickets, fines for street sweeping and loading zone violations that anger many residents.
"Tickets should be used to manage parking, not as a revenue source, and that is what I am going to look to do," Garcetti wrote during a chat session on the website Reddit last year shortly after being elected.
Also during that web chat, he suggested a possible discount on ticket prices if fines were paid early.
In Garcetti's first budget, parking fines aren't going to change. A ticket for a street-sweeping violation will remain at $73, for instance.
Additionally, Garcetti is seeking to add 50 part-time traffic officers, in part to bring in revenue for the city. With the additional staff, and a new collection agency, revenue from parking tickets will be boosted by $5 million, budget documents state.
At a briefing Monday, Garcetti acknowledged that ticket prices wouldn't change but said he has formed a working group to study the issue.
"It's something that still remains a priority for me," Garcetti told reporters.
For now, Garcetti's approach to parking officers follows a trend set by his predecessor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who used 150 part-time traffic officers to help write tickets to bring in revenue. Villaraigosa also repeatedly raised ticket prices over the last decade.
Union members balked Tuesday at Garcetti's proposal for the additional part-timers, which saves the city money because no pensions and benefits are paid to part-timers.
"This job is a full-time job and needs to be treated as such," said Damon Bergeron, an L.A. city traffic officer and a member of Service Employees International Union 721. "The city should not continue to offer this service on the cheap."
Under Garcetti's budget, which requires City Council approval, the staff of part-time officers would grow to 200: The officers would write tickets and help with traffic. Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman said the 50 additional officers were proposed to fill in when full-time officers are working at special events and on traffic duty.
Budget documents show the city issued 2.6 million tickets last year, relatively flat to the prior year, which brought in $150 million in revenue. Revenue from parking citations has steadily grown over the last decade, budget documents show.
Garcetti's budget states that "ticket issuance and corresponding revenue has begun to flatten" and outlines the new revenue that could be brought in by the officers.
When ticket-writing officers are assigned, they are typically placed in dense neighborhoods like North Hollywood, downtown and Hollywood. Transportation department spokesman Bruce Gillman said his staff was still reviewing the mayor's budget and was unable to comment on specifics.
Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenant's rights group, said he's glad ticket prices aren't rising, but he questioned the continued fines. The tickets hit lower-income residents to a greater degree, since apartments dwellers frequently rely on street parking, Gross said.
"We would urge the mayor to look at this further down the road and adjust it," said Gross, who also serves on the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services Commission.