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Los Angeles Times

Tuesday May 15, 2012

Renters Will Protest New Parking Ticket Fines Sought By Villaraigosa

By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times - L.A. NOW

Renters' rights activists are taking aim at Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to increase parking tickets by $10 -- the sixth increase in seven years at City Hall.

Advocates for working-class families said they intend to speak out on the proposal Tuesday afternoon at the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee, which is set to consider possible changes to Villaraigosa's proposed budget. The city faces a $238-million shortfall.

Those activists are taking special aim at the proposal to charge $78 for parking violations on street-sweeping day, saying it unfairly hits those who live in high-density neighborhoods where spaces are scarce.

The Times reported last week that the mayor's plan would cause street-sweeping fines to go up by 73% since 2005, the year he took office. Other parking tickets would go up by as much as 94% over the same period, far outstripping inflation.

Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, said his organization would be willing to accept increases to certain public safety-oriented fines -- such as blocking a hydrant -- if the street-sweeping tickets were left alone. The chances of getting a street-sweeping ticket are "more based on your economic situation and the area you live in," said Gross, whose organization advocates for low-income Angelenos.

That argument may be a tough sell, considering the budget shortfall. Street-sweeping fines made up more than a third of the ticket revenue generated by the city's parking officers last year.

Villaraigosa contends the latest round of increases will help balance the budget and preserve city services. City Controller Wendy Greuel -- a candidate for mayor -- opposes the latest round of increases, saying that the city should instead collect millions of dollars from parking scofflaws who have racked up multiple tickets.

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