On Street Parking Debate Highlights Transportation Committee Agenda

A new front in the debate over on-street bike parking opens this week with a motion by Councilmen Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz that asks the city to study allowing residents to park in front of their own driveways and garages on the street.  The motion will be debated as part of the City Council Transportation Committee Hearing that begins tomorrow at 2:00 P.M. at City Hall.

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Coming Soon? Photo: Get Reading

The motion just asks for city staff to, “the City should examine the benefits of allowing individuals to park in front of their driveways as a way to increase residential parking supply.”  My honest first reaction to this motion was disbelief.  At our first residence, our neighbors parked in front of their driveway everyday.  And the parking police were out in force because it was a neighborhood with strict parking permit requirements.

From a parking perspective, the trick will be how to advertise the permit system that would be required well enough to make it clear to other drivers that you can’t just block people’s driveways at will.  Some areas have very limited parking, and making best use of the lane, most of which is already being used for street parking, make some sense.  As long as it doesn’t end up impacting people’s ability to get in and out of their driveways because of any confusion that might be created.

That being said, the part of the street in front of someone’s driveway is a public space and should not just be given away, regardless of the local parking issues.  The permits should be appropriately priced to reflect the value of the land.  Unlike the current permit system, which allows vehicles to park along certain blocks without being ticketed, this system is essentially leasing a car parking space to a homeowner or renter.  The fee for such a space were it in a parking lot would be in the $100 a month range, and it should be for this proposal as well.

But funds from the permit shouldn’t be thrown into the black hole that is our city’s general fund, they should be reinvested in the community from which they come.  Beautification, streetscaping and even repaving costs could be paid for by charging people to lease a public space.  This proposal could end up being a win for everyone in the communities where this is implemented, not just the ones who own more cars than they have space to store.

Two other motions caught my eye when reading through the agenda.

First is the much-publicized motion by Paul Krekorian to signalize the deadly crossing of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Archwood, which has claimed two lives in the past year and left another young woman with severe injuries, this Wednesday’s City Council Transportation Committee Hearing deals with two issues dear to every car driver’s heart: on street parking and hybrid vehicle incentives.

There’s also a a 2007 motion by Councilman Bernard Parks and Council Woman Jan Perry that seeks to make it easier for city employees to purchase hybrid vehicles by having the city enter into agreements with dealerships for discounted purchases.  The motion also encourages a change in state law that requires city’s to reduce automobile trips by asking that hybrid car trips be included as a reduction.

It’s a sign of the times how old-fashioned this motion seems, just three years after it was initially drafted.  The debate at City Hall has moved past clean cars and on to encouraging bicycling and transit, in large part to the Mayor’s embrace of Measure R, 30/10 and, more recently, safe cycling.

Personally, I have no problem with this motion because it also includes language to make it easier for employees to purchase transit passes.  But hopefully Chairman Rosendahl, or one of the other bike-friendly members of the committee, take a moment to add some language about entering into agreements with bike shops to make it easier for employees to get bikes as well.