Perhaps the most unpopular move a Los Angeles elected official can make is increasing parking fines. And yet, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is proposing to make that move for the sixth time.
The mayor says that a $10 hike in parking fines will help make a dent in the city's $238 million budget deficit, the Los Angeles Times reports.
However, Donald Shoup, professor of urban planning at UCLA, told The Huffington Post that the mayor's plan unfairly punishes the wrong people.
The city should implement progressive parking fines rather than increase the cost for everyone, Shoup said. With progressive parking fines, the first offensive fine would stay the same and each subsequent ticket cost would increase.
"A surprisingly large amount of fines go to the same repeat violators," he explained. "Maybe the only way to get through to those people is to have progressively higher fines without penalizing the rest of us who occasionally forget about street cleaning or didn't see the sign."
"How many of us have ever stopped at a fire hydrant or bus stop? Hardly any! It's really fair to raise revenue from people who are causing most of the problem," Shoup said.
Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, also thinks Villaraigosa's proposed increase is not a fair approach. Parking tickets, especially violations of street-cleaning restrictions, disproportionately affect working-class families in neighborhoods with many apartment buildings and few parking spaces (such as Koreatown and Westlake), he told the Times.
More than one third of the $134 million collected in parking fines last year came from those collected on street-cleaning days, KTLA reports. Under the mayor's proposed increase, street-cleaning penalty will reach $78, which almost double the $43 fine in Torrance and El Segundo and the $46.50 that Pasadena charges.
"The goal of fines should not be to raise money; it should be to enforce parking laws and public safety," Shoup said. "Villaraigosa is being very frank here in saying, 'No, we're trying to raise money.'"