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City budget woes and how your local street festival may not happen

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This could be the end (maybe temporary end) of your local street festival, maybe even make your block party a bit more costly. It also could mean changes for major festivals like Sunset Junction.

Yesterday, Karen Sisson, the Los Angeles City Administrative Officer (she's in charge of the money), told City Council that due to an increasing amount of financial concerns, they should "freeze all new spending and end the politically popular practice of granting permit-fee waivers for groups' special events," according the Daily News today.

"I liken it to when you plan to make an addition to your home, but the bonus you were counting on didn't come through," City Administrative Officer Karen Sisson said. "So you put off the project until you have the money." Sisson said the city is still grappling with a structural deficit that could mean a $215 million shortfall next year. It also faces the potential loss of an existing telephone-users tax that brings in about $270 million a year.

"I know in a budget our size that $270 million doesn't sound like a lot of money," Sisson told City Council members. "But when you look at the proportion of our money devoted to public service - that's two-thirds of the budget. A $270 million cut will be noticeable in other service areas and that is the choices we will be looking at."

In addition to banning permit-fee waivers, which do away with the cost of providing traffic control at special events, other new programs that could be cut are "City Attorney's Office's gang-prosecutor program, expense accounts, fuel purchases, homeless shelters, various anti-gang programs, new police and fire stations and workers' compensation attorneys."
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However, making it harder to conduct a block party can be detrimental to crime prevention. City officials and police hail neighborhood watches, a form of community policing, as one of the most important elements in fighting crime. In fact, the LAPD saying goes like this: "Policing is 75% community, 25% police." Block parties have proved to be one of the ways of solidifying and empowering a neighborhood watch to be successful. Cut support of this small, yet important neighborhood aspect, and the consequences could be a hundred times more costly.

Photo by the Korean ResourceCenter 민족학교 via Flickr