It’s time to kick rising parking fees to the curb, says Councilmember John D’Amico. In an email newsletter distributed on Monday, D’Amico vented his disagreement with the council’s vote last week to increase the cost of residential parking permits.
In the email, D’Amico also sounded off on other rising parking-related costs.
“I disagree with my colleagues and the city staff about the need to continually increase meter hours, increase hourly rates at meters and in the city lots, increase parking ticket costs and increase the cost for residential parking permits,” D’Amico wrote.
“My colleagues continue to vote to increase these fees and I believe that the residents are being ‘nickled and dimed’ and that we don’t like it. I know I don’t like it. I do not believe this is an appropriate way for a city to treat the residents just so that the city can add more and more money to its already overflowing coffers.”
The council voted to increase fees for annual parking permits by 16 percent for one car and by 20 percent for a second car; that will make rates $22 and $30, respectively. The cost of guest parking permits and commercial parking permits will also increase.
D’Amico proposed offering each city resident one free residential parking permit.
“We’ve raised $1 million from parking meters, and we’ve raised the parking fines, and we’ve raised the parking costs at the parking lots and we’ve raised the parking hours, including Sundays,” he said during the June 3 council meeting. “And it just seems to me that we have nickel and dimed our own residents, and it’s a little abusive.”
Councilmember Jeffrey Prang voiced concerns about the loss of revenue affecting city programs but said he understood residents’ frustration with parking and the need for relief.
“With 40,000 people shoehorned into 1.9 square miles and virtually every neighborhood a permit parking district and all the different ways that people feel tormented by parking in this town, I’m certainly sympathetic,” Prang said.
Prang suggested city staff members be asked to explore alternatives and that the issue be raised for further discussion in the summer. Mayor Abbe Land echoed concerns about revenue loss while John Heilman said that the city’s permit fees are relatively small and that the funds collected through the program are less than the cost of its administration. He argued that all residents’ taxes pay for the streets while only residents can park there, and he said he didn’t think the fee was onerous.
The permit fee increase comes on the heels of an April vote to extend the hours that the city’s parking meters are enforced along Santa Monica Boulevard; D’Amico cast the sole dissenting vote.
Various parking-related charges, including parking meter fees, parking permits and parking tickets, account for 18 percent of the city’s revenue. Read more about parking fees and the city’s $72 million budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 online.
Parking rates at city-owned decks and lots vary. To see a breakdown of these, click here.