Podcast: LA Parking Freedom Initiative Interview with Jay Beeber and Stephen Vincent

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The LA Parking Freedom Initiative seeks to shift parking policy in Los Angeles.

On this Echo Park Podcast episode we interview the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative and the two neighborhood activists behind it, Jay Beeber and Stephen Vincent. Jay Beeber sits on the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council and is credited with abolishing the red light camera ticket system in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative is a citizen movement to sponsor a municipal ballot initiative to rectify the abuses of the current parking enforcement regime in Los Angeles. Jay and Stephen, the two main community activists behind the initiative, are currently conducting research and outreach. It is in that spirit that we were able to interview them about the recent history behind the LA Parking Freedom Initiative, the proposed changes, and what people can do to get involved.

The LA Parking Freedom Initiative is thus far focusing on three areas that need to be addressed:
  • reorientation of policy from an emphasis on revenue generation to policy driven by public service
  • rectify the administrative abuses of the current parking enforcement regime
  • develop a decentralized, locally based process for setting parking hours, fees and fines so that they reflect the real world needs of our residents, shoppers, merchants and businesses.

Below you’ll find the show notes, including links mentioned, a general outline of our conversation, and memorable quotes from Jay Beeber and Stephen Vincent.

Links Mentioned in the Interview

How to contact the LA Parking Freedom Initiative:

Website: http://www.parkinglosangeles.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/parkinglosangeles

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/parkingfreedom

Phone: (657)464-7275

Email: LAparkingfreedom@gmail.com

How to contact Jay Beeber about the related Red Light Camera issue:

Website: http://www.saferstreetsla.org

Audio Interview General Discussion Outline

  • What is the LA Parking Freedom Initiative?
    • Early stages
    • Stephen meets Jay (the “Red Light Camera Ticket Guy”) 🙂
    • Outreach to neighborhood council meetings
    • Social media and Facebook
    • Timeline of initiative September-December
  • Currently in Research and Outreach Mode
    • Researching issues, outreaching to people, discovering the problems
    • Coming up with possible community-driven alternatives and solutions
  • Shaping the Philosophy of the Freedom Initiative
    • Stephen’s motivations, reasons
    • Explaining the current revenue-motivated system vs. proposed alternatives
    • Specific examples of how certain neighborhoods, businesses, residents are affected by current policy
    • Jay’s motivations, and views on the role of city government and its people
  • How Neighborhood Councils Can Participate
    • Outreach/support
    • Brief history about the influence of neighborhood councils in government
    • Feedback, community input, helping to craft ideas and plans
    • Sharing their views to help state the neighborhood’s needs
    • Establish a volunteer base of support
    • Create community impact statements, relay initiative support to district councils
    • If it becomes a ballot initiative, help with signatures
    • How councils have the mechanism to mobilize and add measures to ballots
  • Detailed Discussion about Past and Present Policy
    • History of parking policies in recent years
    • Relationship between parking and the city’s budget management
    • Abuses of the current parking fines
    • Where current parking revenues go
    • Privatization of parking systems and revenues
  • Proposed Changes
    • Where should we go?
    • Suggested changes that are being proposed so far
  • How to Get Involved
  • Brief Discussion of Red Light Camera Ticket Issue

Stephen Vincent’s Memorable Quotes

Parking enforcement and policies have been a problem for businesses and customers of businesses in this city for quite a number of years now, and it only seems to be getting worse over time. I was inspired to see what I could do about it, and my first thought was that we could use the legislative initiative process to draft our own legislation and bring it to the people to help us reform the parking system in Los Angeles.

There needs to be a reorientation of policy from an emphasis on revenue-generation to policy that is driven by public service. Public enforcement history from 2005-on has been driven by revenue-generation…the city taking measures to scoot money off the street and out of the pockets of citizens. That’s just not a proper approach.

The parking system should be driven by public service. It should enhance commerce, enhance mobility, enhance transit of people from one place to another…it should enhance business, and not be primarily driven by the desire of the city to fill the pockets of the general fund. Basic policy orientation needs to change.

We need to set up a system that permanently changes the way the parking regime in each neighborhood is designed by implementing a decentralized, locally-based process for setting parking hours, fees, fines, and regulations, so that they reflect the real-world needs of the residents, shoppers, businesses of a given area.  

You got to believe this affects our businesses, and small businesses run the economy. This is hurting LA in so many ways.

63 dollars for a parking violation for a lot of people is pretty much a day’s wage…they cannot pay it immediately, and they have to budget for it. It’s either put food on the table or pay the city.

Jay Beeber’s Memorable Quotes

I ended the red light camera program here in LA, and when I tell people about that, inevitably, they thank me and they say, “You know what you should do next?” and inevitably, that’s parking. It’s in a lot of people’s minds.

There’s a disconnect between what the city has been doing and what the people need. 

The government should be responsive to the people. That’s the entire purpose of government, especially city government which provides services. You should be telling the city what you want from the city. So when Stephen contacted me, I responded and said, “Yes, I would be interested in jumping on-board.”

One of the things that we want to focus on is that the citizens decide what the parking policies should be for their area.

Every city in general tries to get a one-size-fits-all policy and you really can’t do that because there’s so many diverse areas in the city. [Our initiative] makes the people who live there and who own businesses there have a direct input on how the city should be run. In general, the city needs to be obligated to be responsive to that. 

I’m somebody who feels like I don’t have all of the answers to everything, but I think giving people the voice and the opportunity to weigh-in, and letting the government that serves us know what we want and what we need is the right way to go. 

The more localized you make the decision-making process, the better.

What city government in general expects to have happen is for people to complain about something and then go away. We’re not going away.

People have complained about parking for years and years and years, but the city knows this time that people are involved who want to get something done.

If you’re looking at it as a service aspect, no business would do that to their customers, because it would drive customers away…people are going to live elsewhere and shop elsewhere. (Talking about LA’s current parking policy.)

 

Thank you Jay and Stephen, and thank you LA Parking Freedom Initiative.

What are some parking stories you can share about your experience parking in Los Angeles?

Main image used is from LA Parking Freedom Initiative website.

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