City Looks to Extend Parking Benefit for Hybrids

California_Hybrid_HOV_Lane_Sticker.jpg

At the request of the City Council, the City Attorney’s office has prepared a resolution extending the city’s free parking for hybrid vehicles with "Access OK" stickers until 2011. The free parking program was set to expire this year.

For those of you living under a rock, in 2005 Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a law allowing owners of certain low-emission hybrids to purchase "Access OK" stickers. These stickers allowed single-passenger hybrid drivers to use HOV Lanes. The program was so popular that the state had to stop issuing stickers in early 2006. In January of 2007, the state issued another 10,000 stickers. In total 85,000 hybrid owners had taken advantage of the "green loophole" to use HOV lanes. In support of the program, the City of Los Angeles allows cars bearing the stickers to park for free at metered spaces.

While, the city’s heart is in the right place, after all, who doesn’t want to support hybrid vehicles; the logic of extending a program that benefits the owner of a 2001 Toyota Prius and not the owner of a 2008 Toyota Prius isn’t about encouraging people to buy hybrids. It’s about rewarding people who already own hybrids. After all, continuing this program isn’t going to encourage someone to buy a new car if they can’t buy one of the access passes.

Rewarding people with free parking does come at a price. Most obviously, there’s the $116,000 of annual revenuethe city will lose. That may not seem like a lot of money, but it’s certainly enough over the next three years to paint several miles of new bike lanes.

Second, there’s always a cost to the community when free parking is offered in the form of increased car travel in their area. UCLA Professor Donald Shoup has repeatedly demonstratedthat free parking leads to more people cruising for parking spaces adding an average of half a mile per car trip to an area. Over the course of time, that extra half mile adds a lot of wear and tear to local roads and congestion to local streets.

The City Council Transportation Committee will vote on this resolution tomorrow. A vote of the full council is needed before the resolution becomes law.

Photo: Clean MPG

  • Any vehicle, even if it’s fueled by good intentions and only emits rainbows and butterflies, still takes up space. Valuable real estate.

    We will be #1 in congestion until our leadership shifts focus and begins to work on getting people out of the single occupant vehicle and on their feet, on a bike or on Mass Transit.

    Narrow the streets, lose the parking, widen the sidewalks, welcome people back to the great public space. Welcome to the City! (Leave your car at home)

  • LAofAnaheim

    Just buying a hybrid and saving gas costs should be an inducement enough? Why do we still provide x number of benefits for hybrids? It’s up to the private individual if they chose to buy a hybrid. With the money we give away to those hybrid owners (and the city continuously loses), the City has less to spend on buses, trains, sidewalks, etc.. This hybrid policy is all feel good crap.

  • Did you know, before you drive a vehicle off the lot, the environmental damage caused by its creation is the equivalent of having driven it 30,000 miles? F hybridz.

  • Damien Newton

    Update: The full city council will be voting on this at Friday morning’s meeting…at the committee meeting Rosendahl seemed interested in fighting the plan to extend the free parking, but we’ll see if he can convince the rest of the Council.

  • Damien Newton

    Bad news everyone. The city council passed the resolution by consent and didn’t even hold public comment. I have all the sad commentary at StreetHeat (I don’t want to use Streetsblog to cover my own advocacy efforts…):

    http://streetheatla.blogspot.com/2008/03/dodgersyay-public-processboo.html

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