The Los Angeles City Council begins its budget deliberations this Friday. Yesterday, the Budget and Finance committee voted on their final recommendations to council. As D-Zahn reports, included in those recommendations are things like an additional 1000 layoffs to cover parts of the Mayor's budget that are not concretely funded.
There are also at least two important committee recommendations that will be heard beginning Friday parks advocates and users need to be aware of. One is the removal of all external review of the privatization of the Los Angeles Zoo. The other is the overt bypassing of the Arts Parks Health and Aging committee public hearing and analysis on whether to charge parking at the LA Zoo. (see pg 23, marked pg 15 of this document)
The LA Zoo sits on Griffith Park-deeded land. Parks users as well as Zoo-goers utilize the parking, and overflow from the Gene Autry museum - a museum paying just $1 per year for land valued at $600,000 in rent per year - conveniently parks there.
Let's analyze this move, since City Council refuses to do due diligence. The idea of charging to park in Griffith Park affects Zoo patrons and parks users, but it is being proffered chiefly by West Side guy Bill Rosendahl as a Zoo revenue-generating option. Yet when one suggests that the Zoo - who is asking for the revenue - should simply add fifty cents or $1 to their admission prices, you have certain councilmembers looking at you in horror. 'How can you do that to the families'??!? they exclaim, as if it is somehow something different. (duuuuh.)
Charging at a Griffith Park parking lot is precedent-setting. There is no doubt about this. When the Zoo lot costs money, parking will be pushed onto already heavily-impacted streets and other parking areas in Griffith Park. Families and children will be dodging across those streets and through traffic to get to the Zoo entrance. The Autry Museum, across the street from the Zoo, will then be "forced" to charge for parking, too. The dominoes fall from there, and your City park will be lined up for the plucking.
Another, broader precedent is being set here. The City Council is willfully removing any distinction between "parking revenue" as in organized parking structures and City lots, and, in essence, all City properties. Unchecked now, this will ultimately change your everyday experience in Los Angeles as it propagates.
We're pretty sure Councilman Tom LaBonge asked ... nay, begged to have this bypassed by his committee. As he seeks re-election in March 2011, it's the only way for Mr. Griffith Park to even begin to pretend this dangerous precedent isn't on his tenuous watch.
Most people, including the Griffith Family, won't be fooled.