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LA city officials crack down on popular parking loophole

Parkway parking in Koreatown on Monday, August 14.
Parkway parking in Koreatown on Monday, August 14.
Sean McHenry / KPCC

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We talk a lot about the housing shortage in L.A., and about the high cost of renting or buying a place to live. And then there's parking.

It's no secret many neighborhoods in L.A. are starved for places to put all our cars. And it may be getting worse. In June, the City Council voted to shut down a popular loophole – outlawing the common practice of parking in the space between the curb and the sidewalk, or on the very edge of a driveway where it reaches the road. These spaces are called a number of things across the country, but in Southern California, they're called the "parkway" and "apron" respectively.

"On the one hand, it's convenient," said Laura Nelson, a transportation writer for the L.A. Times. Nelson, who's been covering the parkway loophole, spoke with Take Two host A Martinez. "On the other hand, it's an eyesore, and has destroyed a lot of kind of planting and rare green spaces in neighborhoods where there aren't a lot of parks or a lot of places for kids to play."

The loophole started with sidewalks, not cars

According to Nelson, parking on the parkway began with a lawsuit over L.A.'s sidewalks. 

"Five years ago," said Nelson, "the city was hit with a series of lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans With Disability acts, saying that the city's broken sidewalks, which we all know can be in bad condition, and people who parked on driveway aprons were violating disability access laws."

The city started to crack down on these parking violations, but there was blowback. 

"People were really upset, understandably, that something that they thought was kind of a given had suddenly gone away," said Nelson. "So the city council suspended the parkway enforcement policy."

Although the decision wasn't publicized, some drivers in neighborhoods with few parking options figured it out. But according to Nelson, parking in the parkway really started to take off in the last two years – the secret got out.

"Just in the last 18 months or so, it has completely exploded in a series of kind of dense central neighborhoods," said Nelson. "K-town East Hollywood and Westlake near MacArthur Park and a couple of other neighborhoods too. "

History repeats itself

Five years later, city officials have started to cite cars that leave their cars in the parkway or apron. While the change is only a day in, Nelson is already hearing that yes, cars are getting tickets.

"Yesterday, there was a wave of ticketing," said Nelson. "Not only on parkways, but also in some driveway aprons again, so it's a little bit like history repeating itself. "

So what can you do to avoid a ticket? For one, don't park in the parkways or driveway aprons.

"I would recommend parking and walking probably to find a place to park," said Nelson. "It's painful. I know it is."

To hear the full interview, use the blue media player above.