A proposal to turn over management of the Los Angeles Zoo to a private operator will receive a second public hearing next week, Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge said today, after chairing a committee meeting attended by just one elected official.
LaBonge flew solo at the morning Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee. After listening to the city administrative officers’ report and a handful of public speakers, the councilman said he wanted to continue the discussion for one week to get as much input as possible.
“I do believe there’s a fundamental change in our lives in this country based on things that happened in the last 20, 30 years that is causing us to come up with new partnerships,” LaBonge said. “It’s not the 1960s, 70, 80s or the go-go 90s. All of the sudden we have to look for relationships.”
Located in Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Zoo has an annual operating budget is $26.1 million. The city provides $6 million of that from the General Fund. An additional $8.6 million comes from the city for pensions, health care, utilities and capital financing.
“The city’s goal is to improve and enhance zoo operations while reducing or stabilizing the General Fund contribution to zoo operations,” said the CAO’s Veronica Salumbides.
Zoo employees, however, voiced concerns that the privatization plan is jumping the gun.
“There’s still no fee for parking at the zoo. That’s certainly low hanging fruit,” said AFSCME’s Cheryl Parisi. “There should be an analysis of that and other opportunities to generate revenue at the zoo … there certainly is much dialogue and discussion that can take place short of privatizing, sending out to a private contractor, this jewel of the city of Los Angeles.”