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Mr. CityWatch Visits NoHo Arts District

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City Scratching for Dollars: Parking Garage, Bake Sales Back on the Table

LA DOLLARS AND SENSE – New reports out last week from LA’s chief administrators are instructive to understand the city’s budget outlook, including the structural deficit that continues to undermine our fiscal sustainability.

The gist of the city’s multi-year plan is right on: (1) Responsible fiscal management; (2) Focus on core services; (3) Alternative service delivery models; and (4) Sustainable workforce. On most counts there have been strides, but the city is nowhere near out of the woods.

The reports outline a range of potential initiatives mostly geared toward raising revenue: Resuscitating the parking garage sell-off plan, new ambulance billing fees, new Fire Department cost recovery fees, increased parking enforcement, privatizing the zoo, privatizing the convention center, signage fees, code violation fines and more. (You can read the three reports at under “Latest News.”)

Missing from the documents is much discussion about further cost cuts … or which neighborhood services are essential to make ours a more livable city … or how to balance potential revenue increases with cuts to the city business tax (the gross receipts tax), which would make Los Angeles more attractive to a broad base of businesses. But those are questions more suited for our elected officials.

Still, the information provides a good basis for discussion. I’d take the talk more seriously if the city’s actions were as constructive as its words. Take the stadium deal as an example: Why did officials approve a preliminary agreement before considering an alternative for the convention center that would produce hotel space and exhibit space right on the existing site? Why did they act before resolving the potential convention center privatization issue, knowing that the proposed stadium and convention center configuration may make outsourcing less attractive to some potential partners?

Before anyone is asked to pay more, or get less, there must be trust in the process and the people who hold our city purse.

(Cary Brazeman, a CityWatch contributor, is a neighborhood council board member and a member of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at or through

Tags: city budget, budget outlook, multi-year plan, cost cuts, Convention Center

Vol 9 Issue 65
Pub: Aug 16, 2011