When an 11 Percent Mayor Champions a 90 Percent Parking Ticket Hike

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Just like a bad case of the flu, 11 percent Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa strikes again. This time he hopes you will not mind spending 70 percent to 90 percent more on parking tickets. You might not -- unless you have been paying attention to city controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel.

Villaraigosa -- the L.A. Weekly dubbed him the 11 percent mayor for only spending 11 percent of his working time in Los Angeles -- is desperate for an influx of cash into the bankruptcy-bound city. Who is left to fleece? Drivers. With copious and frequently contradictory parking rules and regulations so Byzantine they make the tax code look straightforward, those forced to leave their vehicles in densely populated Los Angeles are easy prey.

The Los Angeles Times notes the proposed increases could total as much as $40 million in annual revenues. A street-sweeping ticket would cost $78, a 73.3 percent increase from when Villaraigosa took office.

Greuel noted in 2010 that Los Angeles' record of accomplishment for parking ticket and fine collection is beyond dismal. The Los Angeles Times reported the city neglects to collect as much as $260 million -- or 53 percent -- of outstanding parking fines. Then there are the 17,000 "bogus parking tickets" uncovered by L.A. Weekly in 2010. Los Angeles parking enforcement issued tickets that were blatantly false. In at least one case, it affected a driver who was not in the city on the date of the ticket.

I understand Los Angeles is quickly running out of cash. Walk through the city's business district and look at the boarded-up windows. Take in the influx of panhandlers. Yes, the city's quality of life is decreasing as services are being cut. Yet here is the rub: Why raise parking ticket fines when there is no system in place to collect the fines? Why raise fines when fair ticket writing is not guaranteed? Why not first fix what is broken?

Mr. Mayor, are you listening? Or are you too busy preparing to chair the Democratic National Convention to be paying attention to the city you are elected to govern?

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