Parking, Barking, and Snarking

ALPERN AT LARGE--The City and County of Los Angeles are moving away from liberalism, and even beyond progressivism, to the extent that a social engineering project is being rammed down the throats of even the most open-minded of civic leaders.  And woe be unto those who dare speak truth to power, or to at least point out the sky is blue, and that the late George Orwell had a few good points. (Photo above: Couple fighting over parking space.) 

Speaking as one of the "useful idiots" guilty of wanting more mobility for Angelenos to improve their quality of life, we now have a culture where we just don't need any conservatives, moderates and/or Republicans telling us how to live our lives when we've got such a wonderful group of mega-lefties that are more than happy to tell us how to live our lives, instead: 

Myth #1: The Expo Line, the Gold Lines, and all the other lines were meant to megadensify LA. 

Urban infill is good.  Elegant density is good.  Transit-oriented housing is good.  Affordable housing is good.  Neighborhood preservation--and even betterment--is very good. 

But the Expo Line is a cute little trolley meant to offer an alternative to the I-10 freeway, and effectively added a lane or two each way on that horrible gridlocked highway.  Ditto for the Green Line and the I-105 freeway, and for all the freeway alternatives that the Orange and Gold Lines had to offer. 

Encouraging a capacity of overdevelopment--and anything BUT affordable housing and transit-oriented development--is now the name of the game. 

We could easily define affordable and transit-oriented development.  There's Senior Affordable, Student Affordable, and Workforce Affordable housing that all are great for the middle and lower socioeconomic classes and can reduce traffic and enhance our lives.  We could also define what differentiates "transit-oriented" versus "transit-adjacent" development. 

But we don't--because our pols and Planning gurus coddle developers who build market-level, car-oriented, and gentrifying developments that make a mockery of all they say, and what we demand. 

Myth #2--Car commuters are ruthless monsters bent on destroying us all! 

You know who uses their cars?  Most if not virtually all of our political leaders, the leadership of Metro and other transit agencies, and virtually all transit advocates (and kudos to those few mensches who practice what they preach!). 

As for me, I use my car because I live in West LA and work in underserved middle/lower-economic class neighborhoods in Orange and Riverside County. 

My wife uses her car for our children's needs and for groceries--they need transportation to schools too far to walk to, and we need food and household items too small to carry on a bus or train. 

And very, very few (I'm a big exception) transit advocates have children who are still minors, if they have any children at all!  The needs of children (parks, bus/train safety) and women with small children (or even women without children) are ignored by the transit world dominated by childless males ... although a few of us have children who we see will gladly use the train/Uber/Lyft over the car. 

There's no reason to not do anything in our power to allow other options to the car...for all of us.  But to demonize and arm-twist and belittle and besmirch ALL car drivers is rather obtuse, arrogant, and just downright unfair.   

And, in the same vein, demeaning homeowners who "have it so easy" in single-family neighborhoods isn't very kind, either.  But then again, the social engineers think that God (if they believe in God) is on their side, and they won't be disabused from their monopoly as the Wizards of Truth. 

Myth #3--Parking is BAD...very BAD...and always leads to BAD THINGS! 

Don't worry about ISIS and Donald Trump folks it's that neighbor's parking that'll getcha! 

You know, that parking in front of his/her house that YOU feel YOU deserve as a renter who makes less than him/her, and because he/she MUST have had it easier to buy that home because of Proposition 13...even they're in their 30's or 40's? 

You know, that parking next to the supermarkets and restaurants that are always full and in such short supply, and which forces you to hunt for parking in adjacent single-family neighborhoods, and which forces those neighborhoods to be "the mean streets" by establishing preferred parking districts, and which leads to a host of City parking tickets coming to a windshield near you? 

I could count time after time after countless time we've demanded that parking not be free, but the theology of "Parking is the Domain of the Prince of Darkness" and "the Car is the Anti-Christ" would be much easier to believe if:

 a) We could find a way to ensure that unbundled parking and apartments would ensure that apartment renters not purchasing a parking space would NOT be allowed to purchase a car that would, inevitably, be parked on someone else's hard-earned property.

 b) We could find a way to allow families with small or other minor children and/or seniors to actually survive without a car.

 c) We could create senior and student housing developments that would make it silly to purchase a car.

 d) We could find a way for families to buy family-sized grocery purchases without a car.

 e) We could find an economic model for suburban businesses to thrive without parking.

 f) We could get developers to pay for the same amount of transit amenities that they would have to pay for parking, so that they don't weasel out of their legal infrastructure/mitigation requirements in the name of being "environmentally sensitive". 

So we can all continue to be "useful idiots" and help those presiding over a gentrified LA City and County that leads to a further widening of the income gap between rich and poor, and which destroys the lives and dreams of the vanishing middle class, or we could consider treating urban planning and transportation planning like a science ... 

... and not a faith-based theology.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)