AirTalk for August 15, 2012

LA hopes to grow business by shrinking parking requirements

City Councilman Ed Reyes

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Councilmember Ed Reyes, who is a proponent of the change in parking requirements.

It’s hard enough for a driver to find one parking space in this city. If you’re a business owner, the law says you need to find several. Businesses in Los Angeles have been stymied by the city’s parking requirement rules, which date back to the 1940s.

Office buildings, retail establishments, restaurants and apartments are all required to provide a minimum number of parking spaces in order to open. For every 1,000 square feet it occupies, an office-type business must provide two parking spaces, a retail store needs four and a restaurant must come up with 10.

As a result, small business in many areas has dwindled as shops shutter and new owners fail to find the required allotment of spots.

A new parking initiative, spearheaded by Eastside and Central City council members, aims to change that dynamic by relaxing the rules and reducing the number of required spots. The program would divide up the city into zones where each community would be able to enact, through a series of votes, what works best for their area.

Councilman Ed Reyes, who voted in favor of the initiative Tuesday night, sees this as a positive development for many areas of L.A. that he represents. However, for other areas, particularly in West Los Angeles, the idea of easing restrictions in already congested areas is not popular for many residents. Neighborhood activists fear that the initiative will bring more traffic to overcrowded streets, leaving cars cruising the surrounding streets for a space.

“It’s not going to be imposed on anyone. It’s going to be sought out. It’ll be layered in with a process in mind so … those residents who are concerned about overfilled parking that they will have a role in this. So perhaps the end result will be some type of a balance,” Reyes said on AirTalk.

Even with this reassurance, many residents, including Jim O’Sullivan, the President of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, feel this solution may actually create more parking problems. He says there is a larger problem which is the city’s lack of comprehensive transportation system for residents.

“For instance in the Miracle Mile, or the whole Mid-City West neighborhood council area it’s a parking congested area. You can’t take one parking place away. We constantly have issues with restaurants that need to open and there just is no space other than to drive into communities,” said O’Sullivan.

The initiative comes after pilot programs in Atwater Village have shown promising results, injecting the areas with small businesses and enlivening the streets with pedestrian traffic. Reyes emphasized that these positive results prove that it’s time for Los Angeles to move forward with a more diverse approach to parking rather than the single city-wide ordinance.

“This menu allows flexibility both ways, in terms of understanding the unique qualities of every neighborhood and that phrase one size fits all, and how that does not apply to the unique, diverse environment that we call Los Angeles,” Reyes added.

The LA City Council will have a final vote next week on the initiative.

Weigh In


How do you think the new rules will affect your area? Would you like to see more businesses opening, even without parking requirements? Will you to walk to your favorite restaurant to avoid hunting for a parking space?

Guests:

Councilman Ed Reyes, representing the 1st district of Los Angeles including Mount Washington, Lincoln Heights and Echo Park; proponent of changing parking requirements for businesses.

Jim O’Sullivan, President of the Miracle Mile Residential Association; opposes the City Council’s parking plan


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