ALPERN AT LARGE--The lack of parking--or at least accessible parking--is a problem that we increasingly encounter in the City of the Angels. We know we need parking, but we want "someone else" to pay for it.
Yet we have developers who want to weasel out of paying for parking for their own developments, and the rest of us are paying higher taxes than ever to pay for infrastructure...which includes parking!
Yes, the issue of parking is complicated--too much or too little, or both at the same time? Thanks to Brianna Lee for her nice article a few months ago.
I'm not a fan of "free" parking. Nothing should be "free". Things cost money, both to build and to be maintained.
Hence the citizens of L.A. City and County deserve merit, praise, and relief for funding both more rapid transit and freeways...as well as the maintenance for everything.
But the need to locate parking that is accessible and sustainable, and for well-located structures paid for by the right parties (and is supposed to be in our L.A. City budget!), flies in the face of renters and homeowners who are--like it or not--buying cars more than ever and are miserable in finding a place to park the vehicle they rely on to put food on their table and transport their family to necessary destinations.
Perhaps a few cruel creepies reading this might find joy in knowing that some families owning single-family dwellings (and have paid through the nose for it) can't get in or out of their driveways...but I don't find that to be acceptable or kind at all.
Neither do I find it kind or acceptable for renters or condo-owners to have a miserable existence locating parking for their own financial and quality of life survival, when they would gladly pay for it.
Right now, the push for exclusionary Parking Districts are the result of our "mean streets" that are taking over the kindness and sharing that used to be acceptable for the City of the Angels.
As L.A. does its urban infill, the need for key and rightfully-located structures to have fee-for-service but affordable parking is part of the upzoning of commercial thoroughfares, and the desire for restaurants and businesses to thrive because of their accessibility, makes parking no longer a "dirty word" but a mature, adult infrastructure need as much as sewage and cell towers.
Not sexy, of course, but necessary.
Everyone should pay, but those using and benefiting from the parking should pay a bit more for what is rightfully and morally theirs.
Planning and Infrastructure are tied together--one sustains the other and requires the other.
Here's a call for the Transportation Committee, led by Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Paul Koretz, to require ALL Community Plan Updates to have Parking Demand Studies.
There is both a precedent from state law as well as from the City of San Francisco. Not sure if San Francisco is the ideal model for Los Angeles to emulate, but on this one it makes sense.
And it goes without saying for the haters and the bobble-heads that alternatives to the automobile will also be critical--but L.A. has said yes to that, too, despite the best attempts of Metro to play social worker and make it less pleasant or convenient for riders to use mass transit than it should.
On a final note, the cars off the street--particularly streetside parking--allows more room for buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
So, let's wake up and grow up, L.A. Parking has never, and will never, be anything but a helpful part of the overall transportation/mobility effort for the City of the Angels.
(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.)