EDITOR’S NOTE: The city’s proposed Modified Parking Requirement District
(CPC-2007-2216-CA), has stirred widespread controversy for its possible negative impact on residents in many communities. The City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, April 28, at Van Nuys City Hall, 14410 Sylvan St. Local activist Danielle Elliott, a Realtor who has closely followed parking issues for many years, wrote this article to encourage the public to attend the hearing.
By Danielle Elliott
When is a parking solution not a parking solution?
Parking Requirement District ordinance (plan) to alleviate illegal parking is a
larger more extreme version of the original Ponzi scheme where parking spaces
exist – but only on paper.
Now the City wants to make phantom parking legal.
2006, city officials from the Zoning Commission, City Council and Mayor’s
office have turned a blind eye to the illegal expansion of businesses without
requiring adequate parking to accommodate the increased traffic. No real enforcement can exist since
spaces are not exclusive and are used by all the participating businesses.
to lack of funds, staff and the need for diligent oversight, the City has been
unwilling to implement a legally mandated parking database, thus leaving the
oversight to those, who for their own personal gain, have a stake in the
original plan, Motion
06-2280, proposed by Council members Jack Weiss and Wendy Gruel on the surface appeared as if
it was trying to resolve issues that plagued residents, visitors and businesses
alike. The motion was assigned to uber-planner, Tom Rothman who has been
working with business owners, developers and political interests since then to
satisfy their current need for cheap parking without any real vision for the
With the new Modified Parking
Requirement District ordinance, parking is virtual once again.
Unlike a video
game, real people don’t reside in a virtual world. The plan satisfies a
voracious need to expand beyond capacity and for that reason is doomed to
failure. Commercial property, business owners and developers continue to
request variances to reduce their building’s parking requirements from a desperate
city more willing to accept the additional revenue from these variances than
meet the existing legal requirements or community’s real parking needs.
This city’s inaction shifts onsite
required parking offsite and the business owners hire oft times illegal valet
companies that are more than ready, willing and able to utilize shady business
practices to park cars any where and any way.
The plan is
a very short-term solution to a long-term problem. Exponential population
growth, lack of new public transit, cutbacks in existing transportation, poor
enforcement and city-approved parking reductions all have contributed to our
City’s parking problem.
egregious is that part of the justification of this “infill” of parking is to
reduce the environmental impact on the community. This is a specious argument.
Since more people are attracted to areas where there is perceived parking,
there will be more noise and pollutants for all, especially our children, to
breathe and to contaminate our homes. It is illogical to extol the praises of
this ordinance for making more “vibrant” with unsustainable growth already
high-density areas and call it healthy.
The plan is
a deterrent to change and progress. Designed for many areas where commercial
properties are functionally obsolete, these old buildings have no historical
value, significance or uniqueness that should save them for posterity.
Therefore owners have no incentive to bear the cost of retrofitting or building
a new structure with parking when they can shift the cost to other businesses
and share the offsite parking.
It artificially increases value thereby creating
a de facto subsidy for a few commercial property owners to pocket artificially
inflated rents. Small business owners also benefit because rent in these
buildings is still cheaper than in newly developed properties. Properties with
on-site parking demand higher rent and only high-end businesses can afford to
do business there. As for City parking structures – they are being sold to
offset the deficit. It is unlikely the City will build new parking structures
reason, the “Plan” establishes Universal Valet Zones. It is foolish
to believe the City can ban competition between valet companies.
Universal Valet is a myth and has failed
wherever implemented because it can’t compete with fly-by-night valet companies
that under price their services. Even if the City Attorney drafted an ordinance
mandating that all valet companies comply with the same requirements, there
will always be a valet company willing to skirt the law and tie up parking
areas that the Universal Valet will eventually need to acquire thus keeping the
Ponzi scheme going.
The proposal’s one upside is
probably what will doom it to failure. Currently, Building and Safety ordinance
(ZAI 1808) allows sidewalk dining without any additional parking. Under the
“Plan,” a restaurant must have sufficient parking to accommodate outside
dining. Despite this restriction, areas like 3rd St. are loaded with
sidewalk diners. Restaurant owners who illegally expand their businesses beyond
their boundaries merely use vigilante valets.
need to be a city planner to see, once again, nearby residents are the
proposal requests that off-site parking expansion include open lots as well as
structures from 750′ to those that are 1550′ from the requesting business. That
means the community within the 1550′ part of the Universal Valet becomes a parking lot. In Beverly Grove (around 3rd
St.), valets mandated to rush cars back
to their owners have run stop signs and barely missed mothers pushing their
They race through residential alleyways endangering utility and
emergency vehicles and residents trying to access their homes and garages.
Minivans transporting valets crowd our residential streets while others run up
and down the streets to and from their parked client’s cars.
City wheels grind slowly. It is time
for you to have your say.