Why is it so hard for the city of L.A. to keep track of stuff?

billboard2.jpgIt's getting to be a sizable list:

--The City Council is considering an increase in the parking tax, but Controller Wendy Greuel's office says there's no accurate accounting of the number of parking lots in the city.

--Two years ago the council passed a measure that would fine the owners of foreclosed homes (presumably banks) $1,000 a day if they failed to maintain them. So far, the city has not collected a single dime. Reason: There aren't enough inspectors to keep tabs on hundreds of properties.

--The city's ban on medical marijuana dispensaries is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 6, but there is no accurate count of the actual number of locations. The city has sent out warning notices to more than 1,000 suspected dispensary owners.

--Many of the city's sidewalks are in horrible condition - cracked, broken and buckled - but it could take three years (and $10 million) to get an inventory of what needs to be repaired.

--For years, there has been no accurate inventory of the number of billboards in the city of L.A. After a long-running tussle between the billboard companies and the city (don't ask), much of the work appears to be done. But nothing has been released to the public, and it's believed that hundreds of billboards might be in violation of the law.

--When someone doesn't pay a bunch of parking tickets, you'd think there would be a way to boot or impound the car the next time that person parks in a red zone. Actually, there is a way, but for various reasons it often doesn't happen.

To be fair, L.A. is a massive place in which to keep tabs on parking lots or foreclosed homes - and because of budget cuts, there are far fewer people to do this kind of checking. There's also less money to outsource the work. Now, it's a good bet that other big cities have some of these same problems. But is there anything specific to the way L.A. administers itself that causes these things to keep cropping up? And why does the council keep passing ordinances that receive lots of attention, but which have little or no chance of being properly enforced?

More by Mark Lacter:
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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Council members at large (photo)
Greuel and others pitch Clinton for president (video)
Exit interview with Port of L.A.'s executive director
Garcetti on changing city hall culture

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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