West Hollywood’s City Council voted Monday night to increase the annual parking permit fee for one car by 16 percent and the fee for a second car by 20 percent. The fee means local residents now have to pay $22 and $30 respectively to park their cars in West Hollywood, where free parking in apartment garages is relatively rare.
The council also approved a $72 million operating budget for the fiscal year 2013-2014 at its Monday night meeting. Various parking-related charges, including parking meter fees, parking permits and parking tickets, account for 18 percent of the city’s revenue.
The budget is $3 million higher than the 2012-2013 budget thanks to the improving economy. David Wilson, the city’s interim director of finance, reported the budget is back on par with the city’s 2008 budget, before the recession hit.
“The transient occupancy tax is projected to rise 13 percent this year,” said Wilson, noting that the hotel occupancy tax accounts for the single largest source of revenue for the city.
A breakdown of the revenue shows that the hotel occupancy tax accounts for 22 percent of the budget ($15.5 million) and sales taxes account for 17 percent of the budget ($12.4 million). Additionally, property taxes make up 17 percent ($12.1 million), parking tickets make up 12 percent ($8.6 million) and parking meters contribute 6 percent ($4.3 million). Other sources make up the final 26 percent ($19 million) of the budget.
Other than parking, the city approved a number of fee increases and decreases for city services, including a $1,000 fine for the sale of fur or fur products, which were banned in September 2011. Reservation for use of areas in West Hollywood Park and Plummer Park moved from a system based on the number of people, to an hourly rate of $15 per hour with a minimum of four hours per reservation. Each reservation has a maximum of 30 people allowed per picnic zone.
In order to make improvements to city technology, including the permitting process, the building and Safety Division is raising the “technology fee” by 2 percent as a surcharge to its permits. With the extra money, the division hopes to purchase an automated permit information system and a document image system, modify the city’s internet to provide a single web site for all permits (planning, building, engineering, etc.), expand the Building and Safety Division web site to include comprehensive building code information, make it possible for the payment of fees online, and improve the city’s investment in Geographic Information System technology.
Other parking free increases included: residential guest permits went from $28 to $33 for first and second permits; commercial permit parking increased from $50 to $60 for one month, $100 to $120 for two months and $150 to $180 for three months; “1m” commercial parking passes (for employees parking at designated spaces on the west side of San Vicente Boulevard between Melrose Avenue and Beverly Blvd.) went from $43 to $45 for one month, $85 to $90 for two months and $128 to $135 for three months (“1e” parking meter permits remained the same price).
According to a staff report, “currently, the revenues generated by the sale of residential and commercial parking permits has not kept up with expenditures such as postage, cost of living increases, and the administrative costs of staff, permit production, parking signs, computer hardware and software, enforcement and printing.”
The report also says that West Hollywood’s permit fees are low compared to those in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.
On the cost side, 38 percent goes to staff wages and benefits, 23 percent for sheriff / fire services, 6 percent to social services contracts, 5 percent to debt / bond repayments and 2 percent to capital improvement projects. Assorted other contracts and operating costs make up the final 26 percent of spending.
Mayor Abbe Land and Councilmember John D’Amico worked together as a subcommittee examining the budget, which was approved with little discussion from the council. That was a sharp contrast to last year when many public commenters came out to criticize the budget for being difficult to decipher.
Land pointed out that this is the second half of a two-year budget.
Costs include several new positions at city hall, among them an assistant community development director, a human resources analyst and a special events technician.
The social services budget of $3.6 million was increased by $250,000 to compensate for state budget cuts and other emergency costs.
The budget includes an additional $200,000 for information technology enhancements. Land praised those enhancements saying it made it easier for the public to access information.
The new budget also includes $8,000 for each of the five council members and / or his deputy to attend local or out-of-town conferences or meetings. Previously there was a combined conference budget for all five council offices.
Councilmember Jeffrey Prang praised that breakdown for meetings / conferences saying it adds to transparency in how city hall operates.
In a separate action, the council also approved various rate increases for permits issued by the planning department. Among the increases, a demolition permit will go up from $1,236 to $1,263, while a conditional use permit application requiring commission approval will increase from $6,514 to $6,657.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the fee increases were approved unanimously by the City Council. The fee increases, in fact, were approved 3-1, with Councilmember John D’Amico the dissenting vote.
ali, i agree. there are so many things wrong with the city raising the parking permit fees every year, I don’t know where to start. they claim that the permit program has to pay for itself but they fail to count the citations for permit parking violations as part of the program. so this is purely the need to raise more revenue from residents and it hits the low income people disproportionally. but when residents complain about excessive spending the answer is always: ‘we have the money.’ yeah, you have it because you keep taking more and more of it… Read more »
Increasing the fee for parking permits is something I oppose. There are many people who have no choice but to park on the street because they have no off-street parking options for themselves or for guests. Why should we have to pay more just to park on our own streets? This City is getting more and more greedy with its parking fees, parking meters, etc.