Fri, Aug

Sometimes We’re Wrong

ALPERN AT LARGE--Every once in a while we recognize how we've constrained ourselves in our way of thinking.

We presume something, act within that presumption, and then realize that said presumption is WRONG, and needs to be ended in order to fix a whole host of problems. For example: when City Planning stated it has no funding or mandates for Community Plan Updates.

Here at the MVCC (Mar Vista Community Council), we've demanded a Community Plan Update for many years--most of Los Angeles is decades behind in its Community Plan Update, and the Westside is no different. During our walking tours with DCP (Department of Community Planning), we were told there's just no funds to include Parking Demand Studies. 

Meanwhile, we're giving grief and pressure to CD 11 and CD5 staff members (and, by proxy, Councilmembers Bonin and Koretz, respectively) because they originally showed interest in working with us in creating Parking Demand Studies, and then yanked back their original interest (and even a few meetings, and future promised meetings) because they claimed they had no money.

The CD11 and CD5 staff members (some of whom are responsive, and some of whom...not so much) did and still do appear to support Parking Demand Studies--which, pretty much like their name suggests, involves interviewing the community and weighing future planning/developments, and determining how much parking is needed to make present and future developments thrive. 

1) This is particularly true for CD5, where Councilmember Koretz allowed a ton of big development projects on Overland Avenue that are both oversized and ugly, and are both out of character of the adjacent neighborhoods and with entirely insufficient parking for either Palms or Mar Vista... 

...and Koretz and his Planning staff did so without proper consultation and inclusion of the Mar Vista Community Council.  

In short, to Koretz and his Planning staff: Shame On You! You've helped wreck Overland Avenue, much of which is NOT transit-oriented despite developers claiming it is, and without enough mitigation. 

We've had some pretty good local deputies and a good transportation deputy, but Planning has been almost hostile to Westside Village and the MVCC for far too long...

...and perhaps it's in need of being reminded that Westside Village and the Mar Vista Community Council is linked to CD5 as much as they are to CD11, in that the Mar Vista Community Council is legally tied not to one but to two council districts (and that includes CD5).  

But I digress. 

I've not been shy about supporting ZipCar in the past, and it's probably the one viable and morally-appropriate way to allow fewer required parking spaces in any given large development. 

ZipCar is one of the requirements (along with increased affordable housing and height mitigation) that allows the MVCC to work with developers demanding variants for their developments, and it distinguishes between developers who are threatening the neighborhood (such as that monster development planned at Palms/Sepulveda) and other developers who are quite nice to work with.

And YES, we are promoting good development and proper densification, as well as those developers who are working with the MVCC to encourage "best practices" with community-minded developers who WANT to be good neighbors. NIMBYism, no. Neighborhood preservation with sustainable densification, yes. 

2) Enter the Community Plan Updates and the lack of Planning/DCP responsibility to take on Parking Demand Studies.  

Parking is like roads, water, sewage, electricity, and other infrastructure. Without it our current and future development won't work.  

Do we want to rely less on our individual automobiles? Of course. Do many of us find the cost and upkeep of individual automobiles a pain in the backside? Of course, Do we wish we had a better way of doing this? Of course.  

Read above about ZipCar, if you want to paint me as a pro-car, nuts-to-the-rest-of-you kind of guy.

But for those who have a clear head, and want to stay within the confines of reality, stay with me:

The ugly truth is that the same people who taxed themselves big-time for both roads AND transit, and who are happy to create more transit, are also buying more automobiles. That includes people of all ages, ethnicities, and immigration statuses. 

It's likely that the increase in car purchases, and the accompanying increase in traffic, is related to the economic uptick in recent years. I suspect that we don't want another recession--which appears to be among the best ways to increase transit use and decrease car traffic--because that involves too much human suffering and misery. 

Hence, we need more parking. 

So an obvious note to Planning, but without letting CD11 and CD5 officials off the hook: cut the garbage, stop gaslighting us, cease your lying to yourselves, and insist on the funding of Parking Demand Studies to ensure that we don't have a worsening mess on our hands with respect to needed infrastructure. 

And if DCP wants the LADOT and/or local council districts to implement the Parking Demand Studies, then so be it. But stop lying to us...and do your jobs with the Community Plan Updates! 

3) Streetside parking is a ridiculously cost-ineffective way to accommodate parking.

There's no need to demean transit advocates or car advocates--the only people worth decrying are those who don't do their jobs and hurt the hard-working, tax-paying majority.  

Repeat after me: parking structures get cars off the street, parking structures get cars off the street, parking structures get cars off the street... 

Any developer who throws in an extra level of parking for the adjacent community merits a density or other bonus, no less than they should for REAL transit and bicycle amenities like first-rate bus stops with LED lighting and comfortable seating, and like bicycle corrals. Ditto for lit and safe Uber/Lyft stops with "panic buttons" for any person waiting for a pickup who feels unsafe for whatever reason.

Furthermore, getting cars off the street allows for better bus, bicycle, and pedestrian flow. 

And the parking should not be free--nothing is free, because everything has a cost.  

Yet the daytime population of Los Angeles is much higher than during the nighttime, because of workers who arrive from all over to access their jobs (let's get real: if you live in Long Beach or Orange County of Ventura County, you usually need a car to get to work in a cost-effective, time-efficient manner). 

So, like it or not, and with the need to extend transit and carpools and vanpools more important than ever, parking is just NOT something that will go away. 

On a final note, it's up to the Neighborhood Councils to take charge. If you want densification and development that works, infrastructure is needed. That includes parking. All the wishing and hoping for cars to go away isn't going to work. It hasn't, any more than the need for more water, electricity, and better road/sidewalk upkeep. 

It's City Planning that needs to get the Parking Demand Studies under way, and they need to do now. They've always known that, and we need to let them know that with an increasingly loud and unifying voice. 

Because more alternatives to the automobile, and more parking, have NEVER been mutually exclusive--and it never will be.


(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was (termed out) also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee and Vice-Chair of its Planning Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at Ken.Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)