Council to Consider Preferential Parking for Businesses
By Olin Ericksen
June 14 -- After years of siding with residents who want preferential parking where they live, the City Council Tuesday night for the first time will begin to consider reserving some of the street spaces for employees who want to park near where they work.
If approved by the council, staff will begin drafting an ordinance to allow 155 permits at $120 each for employee parking on a trial basis on and near parts of Pico Boulevard, Ocean Park Boulevard in Sunset Park and Montana Avenue in the Northern part of the City, according to the staff report.
"Staff has worked very diligently to propose something that they believe has some potential," said Council member Richard Bloom of the proposal, which City staff has been drafting since June of 2003.
"I think we owe it to the business community and the resident community to look at it extremely carefully, so that if we are thinking of going ahead that there is oversight and corrective action if needed," he added.
The proposal would reserve 10 percent of a block's parking for employees, according to the report.
"It is a very conservative number to make sure as not to unduly impact the residents," said Transportation Planning Associate Ruth Harper, who helped prepare the report.
Under the staff proposal, only Montana Avenue has been assigned an actual number of spaces that would be reserved for employees -- 52 on both the northern and southern sides of the avenue and surrounding streets.
The hours affected were also not included in the report, said Harper.
"That will be flushed out in greater detail by the ongoing process," said Harper, "but it's likely to be daytime parking hours only."
Yet, as evidenced by a recent meeting packed with residents, approving employee parking permits could further fuel the feud between residents and businesses who are often on the opposite sides of the street when it comes to the preferential parking debate.
Nearly 40 people, mostly residents, attended a June 9 meeting on the item and the council has received 21 written comments concerning the agenda item.
"They were concerned," said Harper of the residents who attended the second of two meetings.
The first meeting drew only ten people, mostly from business districts from across the city, according to the report.
Though the council may direct staff to return with a draft ordinance, certain areas of the city will not be considered for the employee parking permits where parking is already seen as too tight, Harper said.
For instance, areas such as Santa Monica's only light manufacturing district in the eastern edge of the city would not qualify because the impact may be too significant to residents, Harper said.
Last month, the council approved residential parking in that area, despite
opposition from local businesses that claim hundreds of employees struggle
to find parking, even before the preferential zone was approved.
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