Ventura County’s New Parking Standards: A Guide for Los Angeles?

 One of the major impediments to really reforming transportation in Los Angeles is that everytime a new development goes in, the city’s parking requirements force developers to put in more than one parking space per unit…even if the development is "Transit Oriented" such as the wasted opportunity at Solair in Mid-Wilshire.  Unfortunately, changing the parking requirements for development isn’t really on the map.  Even when city officials talk about "Complete Streets," it still isn’t ready to mess with people’s God-Given right to free or low cost parking.

However, just as the city is being ringed with cities that are shaming it’s bike planning; other areas of Southern California are embracing a more progressive way of looking at parking.  For example, in Ventura County, a new parking policy that went into place in November emphasizes that developments that encourage walking or taking transit doesn’t have to provide the same level of parking as one that does not. 

There are several other changes to their development code worth noting.  In addition to the parking requirement reform, the new code also requires parking lot to be behind buildings instead of in the front, better landscaping and a plan for pedestrian access.  It’s a far cry from having a maximum number of car parking spaces per development, which is the Holy Grail of parking reform, but it’s a heck of a start. 

If you’re interested in reading the specifics of the plan, you can read the actual code here, Section 8108, or a slightly less dry companion piece, Parking and Loading Design Guidelines.  Or for a more succinct summary, check out Where the Sidewalk Starts, a Ventura County Planning Blog, that breaks down all the changes in plain English.

  • DJB

    C’mon Damien, Solair is not a wasted opportunity because it has a parking garage. Imagine if all of those people were living in single-family homes in the Inland Empire. They’d drive more, they’d be using much more land, and they’d be contributing to all the other problems we complain about with sprawl.

    I don’t think LA can just jump into prohibiting off-street parking in multi-family housing. It runs the risk of turning people off to the idea of living in a dense, mixed-use area. I’d rather they be in K-town with their cars than in the burbs with their cars. They’ll use them less at Solair.

    One of the principles of smart growth is expanding transportation options. Prohibiting parking basically takes away the option to drive. I don’t want to force people to walk, bike and use transit. I want them to do so because it makes sense.

    LA won’t be like the love child of New York and Portland overnight :)

  • I am still waiting for people to either use their garage, or stop building houses with garages.

    I like the idea of parking to not be visible from the street. Some of the massive parking lots are so ugly around the city. I know some of our projects, parking lot design is a very big issue for if the developer can or cannot fit it all together and still have a profitable build.

  • Employee parking should also be a taxable benefit.

  • redbait

    In the sentence that begins: However, just as the city is being ringed with cities that are shaming it’s bike planning…

    it should be its not it’s

  • I was always told to never use the word its in a sentence, as it can mean anything and is not specific. Not really sure if the grammar police need to be involved in this article though.

    Who would get the taxable benefit on employee parking. One of my last jobs is making their employees pay for parking when everything slowed down. That’s why I ask what you mean.

  • DJB,

    I am slapping my forehead reading your comment. If you deprive people of subsidized “free” parking, it doesn’t send them to the Inland Empire. LA will not become like Portland if we don’t actually take steps to do so!

  • DJB

    @ubrayj02

    Whoa now, I never said I wanted the parking to be free. I’m actually not sure what their plans are at Solair, but if they’re smart, they’ll sell/rent the residential parking separately to their residents so people can save money by opting out. Ditto for the retail spaces. Charge for them.

    I think the key is to reduce or eliminate minimum parking requirements, not to impose maximums. Developers know what they have to build to have a viable project. They shouldn’t have planners telling them to build more parking then they need.

    Let the market work ;)

  • DJB

    “[U]nbundling will shift parking from the cost of housing into the cost of car ownership, and the rent for a parking space will become part of the fixed cost of owning a car. Like insurance premiums and annual registration fees, parking will become another cost to consider in the decision to own and drive a car.”

    – Shoup, Donald (2005). The High Cost of Free Parking, p. 569

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