Zwick Proposes 8% Parking Facilities Tax to Fund Street Maintenance Currently Neglected in Next Year’s Budget

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Last month, the City Council passed a budget that cut millions of dollars proposed for the maintenance of city owned properties and streets in favor of funding two new police officer positions. Councilmember Jesse Zwick is asking the City Council to approve a ballot measure (Agenda, Item 14a) that would place an 8% tax on parking facilities to generate $7 million annually to fund the maintenance of the city’s infrastructure.

Zwick’s proposal would not increase fees in city-owned parking lots and structures downtown or at the beach. The motion focuses its revenue generation on private parking, thus will mostly come out of the pockets of tourists and office workers. Funding would go to the general fund and would require a simple majority of voters to pass.

“Last month, Council agonized over whether to hire additional police officers or maintain the city’s roads and sidewalks in its upcoming budget,” writes Zwick in a statement to Next.

“Emergency services and safe street infrastructure are equally essential to the wellbeing of our community. After all, more children in LA County are killed each year by cars than guns.”

In addition to directing staff to prepare a ballot proposition and identify which Councilmembers might be interested in drafting arguments for and against the proposal for the city’s voter guide.

After the council voted to increase free parking in its Downtown before in late December in an effort to induce more last-minute holiday shoppers; a report prepared for the Council showed that the increased hours of free parking had no impact on the number of shoppers.

While the Council unanimously approved the change in the budget last month, some Councilmembers were clearly unhappy about it. If approved by the Council and then by voters in November, then the entire Council could see their budget priorities approved. Santa Monica could get its four extra police officers and maintain its roads.

“This is a win-win for public safety in our community and a partial solution to our city’s dire fiscal situation,” Zwick concludes.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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