The L.A. City Council just changed the proposed deal to lease nine parking garages, responding to criticism from business groups in Hollywood and Westwood.

The details have not been released, but City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said the new agreement would be presented next week to potential bidders.

Merchants had protested the original deal, which would raise prices at two city-owned garages to market rates over five years.

Westwood businesses were especially vocal, arguing that eliminating free parking at the Broxton garage would deal a death blow to Westwood's hopes for a revival.

By leasing the garages to a private operator, the city would get a lump-sum payment up front and unburden itself of the responsibility for maintaining and operating the garages. The money — $200 to $300 million — would be used to close this year's budget deficit.

But the more restrictions the council places on the rates at each garage, the less money the city will get for a 50-year lease.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa earlier this week urged the council to move forward with a deal that would maximize revenue.

But the two council members who represent the affected areas — Eric Garcetti and Paul Koretz — expressed strong reservations about the deal as originally drafted. Without them on board, the deal was all but dead, so Santana initiated a negotiation that would address their concerns.

The council met for several hours behind closed doors before unanimously approving the modified agreement. Since it was in closed session, no word yet on what the details are. Santana said the terms of the agreement would be released at the end of next week.

Update: Mayor Villaraigosa just issued a statement that seems to paper over the differences between himself and the council on this.

“I want to thank the City Council for voting to proceed with a responsible request for proposal (RFP) on the city's parking garages. This decision keeps the City on a path charted last May when we unanimously chose to include this proposal in the Adopted City Budget. Moving forward with a proposal which maximizes the value of city parking garages is a critical part of our plan to restore Los Angeles to financial health.

The Council faced a tough choice, and it did the right thing.”

We don't know what the changes are, but it's safe to say that any changes will not “maximize the value” of the garages. In applauding the council, the mayor appears to be congratulating them for not just killing the deal outright.

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