The Press

Huntington Park council places new parking program on hold

HUNTINGTON PARK — A pilot program to solve parking problems in city-owned lots along Pacific Boulevard has crashed amid complaints from residents about over-zealous citation givers and from business owners alleging a lack of parking for customers.

The City Council Feb. 2 voted 5-0 to put the program on hold pending more study and to send the parking enforcement firm, Parking Company of America, a notice of termination for its job of monitoring parking in the city lots on either side of Pacific.

They will still be in charge of parking programs at two apartment complexes.

The pilot program, approved Oct. 6, took effect Jan. 1. The aim was to free up more parking on the city lots with a four-hour maximum and the purchase of parking permits for 24-hour-a-day parking.

Residents and businesses had complained about a lack of parking, allegedly because of overuse of the spaces by nearby apartment tenants.

But residents complained to the council that too many residents were receiving tickets they could not afford and that businesses had no parking for employees, let alone customers.

Some accused the council of using parking citations as a fundraiser to receive.

Interim City Manager John Ornelas said city staff recommended more study on parking and transportation issues along Pacific as well as other parts of the city.

He said Parking Company of America had previously been told to stop issuing tickets and that the firm will be paid for work as of March 10. It’s compensation under the contract was $36,500 a month for all services, which includes 24-hour-a-day monitoring of city parking lots,

Police Chief Jorge Cisneros said his department will investigate charges of abuse and unfair ticketing by employees of the Los Angeles-based company on the city lots.

Ornelas said those who have purchased 24-hour parking permits will be reimbursed.

Mayor Rosa Perez agreed with the action, saying each area of the city has individual parking issues.

The issue became political as many of those who complained noted the upcoming March 3 City Council election, where Perez is the only incumbent among 10 candidates seeking three seats.

One candidate, David Sanchez, spoke against the parking program, asking “is this a fundraiser or oppression? Some people have been parking in those lots for 20 years. Is this a police state?”