L.A. City Council Votes to Study Parking Meter, Garage Privatization

Earlier this week, the L.A. City Council took a big step towards implementing Mayor Villaraigosa’s budget proposal by approving a $500,000 contract to study the feasibility of privatizing its 41,000 parking meters and six parking garages:

A plan to sell six city-owned garages and 41,000 parking meters was a step closer to becoming a reality Tuesday as the Los Angeles City Council agreed to spend $500,000 to determine the fiscal feasibility of privatization.

The contract directs JP Morgan Chase, Ramirez & Co. and Loop Capital to assess the benefits and risks of selling garages and meters in Los Angeles. Chicago completed two similar deals over the last three years, netting more than $1.7 billion for the Windy City.

It’s unclear how much Los Angeles could net by selling its parking facilities, but the mayor’s office assumes at least $80 million of whatever is raised would be used to balance the 2009-10 budget. Most of the proceeds would be put into reserve accounts.

“There are a number of pieces that are part of this puzzle,” said interim Chief Administrative Officer Ray Ciranna.”We’re asking for the authority to enter into some contracts with financial advisers that will help us look at our revenue stream, both today and certainly over the life of the concession.”

As proposed, the city would sell off 41,000 parking meters and garages at the Hollywood & Highland complex, Pershing Square, the Cinerama Dome and lots on Robertson Boulevard and Broxton and Cherokee avenues.

The city’s parking meters gross about $46 million a year, Ciranna said, but the Department of Transportation will have to spend $25 million to $30 million to upgrade the equipment if the meters continue to be owned by the city. Los Angeles also has $138 million in outstanding debt on three parking facilities.

For more on parking facility privatization, see my recent posts here and here.