Recently, I sat down with Jay Beeber to pick his brain about the state of parking in Los Angeles. Many people know Jay as the guy that fought to eliminate camera tickets in LA. His current exploits involve forming the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative and being on an Eric Garcetti committee to come up with ideas to improve parking enforcement. Oh, and did I forget to mention, he’s also running for District 4 City Council. Busy guy.
PSLA: What are your thoughts on the current state of parking tickets in Los Angeles?
JB: Parking tickets in Los Angeles are used as a way to help balance the budget. The money from parking tickets go into the general fund where they can be allocated for just about anything. They have to balance the budget, so if they raise parking fees by $5 dollars for 2 million tickets per year … that’s something they don’t have to cut.
Beeber and others would like to see money generated from parking tickets separated out of the general fund and kept in its' own dedicated fund, so that the money the city earns from parking tickets goes to improve parking, transportation, sidewalks, and streets in Los Angeles. He believes this money should be used exclusively for parking and transportation issues that plague Los Angeles, instead of being a stop-gap for the city’s budget problems.
PSLA: What are some recent parking reforms you are proud of?
JB: Policy enforcement as changed a lot. Enforcement officers used to be able to get your license plate number as you drove off and you could get a ticket in the mail. Now, the parking enforcement officer must attempt compliance first. This means you have to have the chance to move before the ticket is issued. That is a rule now. This came out of our work.
PSLA: Would you describe yourself as a parking activist?
JB: It started with the red light cameras. I saw on the news that red light cameras were causing more collisions, so I started looking into it.
Due to Jay Beeber's outspoken work to fight against red light cameras in LA, we no longer have to pay these tickets. Woot Woot. Many of the cameras still remain though and the confusion surrounding them is anything but resolved. I've personally seen a number of friends receive these tickets in the mail and be unsure if they need to pay it or not.
One thing that is not up for debate though is that Beeber is continuing to work hard to resolve many of the injustices we all see in our current parking enforcement. Here’s a list of some of the suggestions and goals of the committee Jay is on. Let’s hope Garcetti and the city take them to heart.
- Phased elimination of meter time limits. Instead, the amount the meter charges would simply increase if you stayed there for long periods of time.
- Tiered fine structure for parking violations.
- Separation of parking fee revenue from the General Fund.
- A system of local stakeholders providing input, design, and feedback on parking signs that impact their neighborhoods.
- Expand Express Park and further support market based pricing systems.
- Phased implementation of payment-in / payment-out systems. These would functionally treat parking meters like parking garages. You swipe your card when you park and when you leave.
I’m praying for numbers 2 and 6 to be implemented the quickest. Yet, with $160 million in parking ticket revenue on the table, it’s hard to see the city walking away from such a lucrative and already established method of filling their budget shortfalls.