Up Next for Expo: Should Westwood Station Have Car Parking

Rendering of Westwood Station without car parking. Image via ##http://physics.usc.edu/Undergraduate/temporary/westwood_w_parking_wo_parking.pdf##presentation by Expo Authority## posted online by Gökhan Esirgen.

Now that the Expo Construction Authority has the legal green light to begin construction of Phase II of the Expo Line, it can move on to other issues.  Responding to a motion at the February 5, 2010 meeting of the Expo Construction Authority by Zev Yaroslavsky, Expo staff have put together a presentation listing the pros and cons of having station parking at the Expo Station at Westwood and Exposition.  The “no-parking” option has been endorsed by many of the groups backing the Expo Line such as Light Rail for Cheviot and Friends 4 Expo Transit.  The Construction Authority Board is expected to vote on whether to provide commuter parking  at their March 18 meeting.

By removing commuter parking from the design, the Westwood/Exposition Station is surrounded by open space.  At the north side of the station, an additional 54,000 square feet would be created.  As staff notes, that is roughly the same size as a football field.  The south side would have “only” 23,750 square feet and a “kiss and ride” drop off area.  While the above rendering shows a gigantic brown squares, this space could be filled with amenities such as coffee shops, food trucks or other features one associates with first class transit station.

There would be some parking with the station.  20 spaces would be reserved for people visiting or living in the community, to replace some of the street parking lost by the station.  Very short-term parking will be allowed in the Kiss-and-Ride area for people waiting to pick up an Expo passenger.

By comparison, the option with parking wouldn’t have space for any of those things.  But, it will have lots of low cost car parking.

That's a lot of asphalt.

The plan with parking calls for 170 parking spaces, with access to the stations from Westwood, Overland and Selby Avenues.  As you can see, there is room for landscaping in the project, but not really room for much else.

So here’s the decision that has to be made, does the Construction Authority value 170 parking spaces over station amenities, open space, maintaining a permeable surface around the station, limiting the environmental damage caused by increasing car trips to the area and encouraging people to walk and bike to the station.

When the Expo Board posts their agenda, Streetsblog will post it.  In the meantime, if you have an opinion on which station design you like best, you can email the Board of Directors for the Construction Authority through this website.

  • LAofAnaheim

    Save the money from not building a parking lot, but using that cash to build the Sepulveda overpass.

  • In addition to 20 spaces for neighborhood uses, have space for 20 neighborhood electric vehicles. They’re excludable by nature (smaller than everything but a smart car) and will only allow for zero emissions vehicles from neighborhood commuters.

  • Juantwo

    In addition to 20 spaces for neighborhood uses, have space for 20 neighborhood electric vehicles. They’re excludable by nature (smaller than everything but a smart car) and will only allow for zero emissions vehicles from neighborhood commuters.

  • Bert Green

    I think is should have parking. The reality is that this station is in a suburban area, not in the middle of a dense district. Look at the rendering. There are houses all around the location. If we really want people to use the line it has to conform with the reality of life in that part of town, which is that cars are still the way most people circulate locally.

    However, it should not be free to park all day; commuters should have to pay for the privilege. Maybe use meters or permits; parking should have to pay for itself or even make extra money for the MTA.

  • David Murphy

    I lean in favor of parking, actually.

  • Carlton Glüb

    It should also be noted that this will be one of the most accessible stations by non-car transportation.

    First, there’s obviously the Expo bike path. And then you’ve got 2 Big Blue Bus lines that also serve the station extremely frequently. One travels from UCLA-Palms (#12) and the other from UCLA-Ocean Park (#8). And a block away the BBB #7 goes all the way down Pico from Mid City LA to downtown Santa Monica.

  • NO PARKING

    Parking will drive up project costs and encourage more traffic.

    Use the savings from not building parking to boost local bus service to improve access to the station.

  • Y Fukuzawa

    Instead of parking lot for calls, make it all bicycle racks. Need to encourage people to bike to the rail station, not drive to the station. Plus, you can fit a lot more bicycles in the same amount of space than cars.

  • Kevin Ferguson

    why not be scientific about it? if the goal is to have a train that people will ride, then what will increase ridership? if it’s commuter spaces, why not?

    i mean, i’m usually skeptical of more studies and surveys but this could only help Metro in the long run. and i imagine it’s a lot easier to turn parking spaces into coffee shops than the other way around.

  • Juantwo

    Retail rents in the area are about $3/sf/mo (from Loopnet), and industrial land rents in the general area are about $0.80/sf/mo. This is a better location, and will be transit-adjacent, so I assume a land rent of $1/sf/mo and a parking spot size of 300 SF (parking plus aisles), they would have to make about $10 per spot per day to justify using the space for parking rather than another revenue generating use. This is over and above capital costs (grading, paving, striping) and operations and maintenance. Allowing for vacancy on weekends and other times, the price will be in the $12 to $15 per day or $1.50 to $2 per hour range. Given that all potential station area parkers have access to a car, the travel behavior decision boils down to: would it be cheaper to drive to Santa Monica/Culver City/USC/Downtown and park (costs include vehicle operating costs – about 20 cents a mile according to AAA, destination parking – $8 in downtown SM, at USC, and $7 to $10 in DTLA, and time devoted to driving) or pay to park at the station ($1.50 to $2.00 per hour) plus $3.00 for a round trip ticket.

    Without doing the math, we can see that, with unsubsidized market-rate station parking, the decision to park at the station will only make sense for those who assign a high cost to time devoted to driving (they’d rather be reading a book or playing with an iPad). It’s these individuals who are best served with connecting transit service (BBB 8, 12, short hike from 7 potential for other future service).

    So a preliminary analysis indicates that there would only be demand for 170 spaces if parking is subsidized? Why is parking so expensive at the Westwood Expo station relative to other places? Because it’s subsidized everywhere else. Culver City, USC, and Santa Monica own lots which they subsidize (even if they’d paid off the construction loans, they still don’t pay taxes on the land and don’t have to consider the “highest and best use”). In downtown, land banking results in an abundance of parking (Prop 13 and low valuations for “improvements” allows these owners to reap cash flow from parking while waiting for a high future payoff when the block gentrifies).

    So what do you do here? One suggestion is to have some parking spaces for neighborhood electric vehicles (which won’t make it to DTLA), have about 20 unsubsidized parking spaces for Expo and retail use, and develop retail on the Westwood-blvd adjacent property. Ideal tenants would be a coffee shop (Coffee Bean/Starbucks) and/or a convenience store (Famima). Use the revenue generated from the leases to subsidize connecting bus service to reduce headways on BBB lines and consider a LADOT Dash route from the station to Century City. Of course, this would require a neighborhood parking management plan with residential area permits to ensure that demand for free parking doesn’t adversely affect the neighborhood.

    Or you could continue to subsidize parking and have a perpetual shortage of free parking at the station, increased traffic in the neighborhood, and no new commuter/resident serving retail amenities that enhance the “place value” of the station area…

  • LAofAnaheim

    @Juantwo…you may have missed the article this past week that noted people with electric cars are driving more than usual…b/c they think they’re “saving the environment” and “gas costs less”. The electric car could be the scariest thing transit advocates will see….. It’s still a car, a car a car with maintenance, parking, and causes traffic (if we get more electric cars, more people will drive and more traffic will be caused). I’m more fearful of electric cars than the gas guzzlers, because at least they pay for the damage via high gas expenses.

  • Scott Mercer

    Market rate parking for automobiles, but huge amounts of free parking for bicycles and even scooters and motorcycles. I am talking about large amounts of bicycle LOCKERS, not racks.

    Not everyone will ride a bicycle/scooter/motorcycle, but you want to make it as easy as possble for those who are willing to ride one to park at the stations.

  • DanaPointer

    Juantwo, great points, my thoughts also exactly, we need this type of analysis here and more often in LA in general, when serious analysis is done, as Shoup says, prices for parking will be higher, retail and housing cheaper, and demand for parking and driving less. All things I support. No more handouts to the most dangerous mode of transport.

  • Bob Zwolinski

    This one’s a tough call…
    People living in U.S. cities with mature transit systems will demand that ample parking be part of the project in their neighborhood. They’re simply used to convenient rail stations since they’ve always existed throughout their lives. Adjacent businesses welcome the steady revenue stream that the auto and pedestrian traffic bring.

    But this particular neighborhood being low-density, residential and its residents not used to an urban rail station in their midst presents an issue. Most of the traffic from parking will be generated by morning commuters. Their cars will be most likely sitting there for over 9 hours. The “constant parking traffic” problem shouldn’t exist after 8:00 am.

    The argument boils down to neighborhood aesthetics and whether [or not] ample parking can be made accessible at the proposed Sepulveda station a few blocks west…

    Ask someone living in New Jersey, Long Island or Chicago suburbs and they will fight FOR parking at stations in their neighborhood.
    Ask someone living in Rancho Park/Cheviot hills and they will fight AGAINST parking in their neighborhood [with a vengeance fer sherr].
    It’s just a matter of what you grew up with and what you’re used to.

  • This is a transit board — but a particularly green one — so I’m surprised a point has been missed. That land has been historically open space — something that is critically lacking in the area. In fact, by state law definition, the area is “critically underserved” by open space.

    I don’t see open space as a vacuum for cars or development (coffee shops), but I see it having its own value, including for native plants, water retention/cleaning/infiltration – just nature being nature. I’d love to see something like TreePeople’s La Kretz watershed garden there, educating people on how we can conserve water and restore the ecosystem in our homes. (http://www.treepeople.org/la-kretz-urban-watershed-garden)

    This site would be the greenest of outdoor classrooms – serving schools including Dorsey, Hamilton & SamoHi, plus every other school that could connect to Expo – unlike LaKretz, which requires busing kids to Coldwater & Mulholland. It could be staffed by USC students (arriving by Expo or bike) and by UCLA students (arriving by the BBB 12 or 8 or bike – or walking). My website’s a bit out of date, but please see http://www.ExpoGreenway.org.

    I’ve worked to get Expo built since 1989, but I care about open space, too. Half of the land is City of Los Angeles land. (It’s the 50 feet on either side of Metro’s ROW.) We can serve more than one master here. A linear park accessed by bike or train or walking – plus a park that serves to educate as as restore nature – where could we better do that?

    By the way, if we need parking, we can provide more at the Sepulveda station, .56 miles west, which has proposed parking by double-decking an existing lot.

  • @Jonathan (and FYI)

    Wasn’t there supposed to be a citizen’s advisory committee convened to discuss design issues at the Westwood station?

    Back when the Expo environmental documents were approved by the Expo Authority, and when Jonathan Weiss and others successfully fought for the “park not parking” option to be included at Westwood station, the Expo Authority moved to create an advisory committee to inform the ultimate design of the station area. This was a motion at the Feb. 5 meeting, just as important as the one that required Yaroslavsky’s staff to prepare that (falsely dichotomous, red herring filled) list of the “pros” and cons of taxpayer subsidized parking at the station.

    I was in pretty good contact w/ Rosendahl and Yaroslavsky’s offices over this and repeatedly was promised a spot on the committee because of my work with UCLA bicyclists on station access at Expo/Westwood.

    But after poking them a couple times, it seems the citizen’s advisory committee has either been totally neglected, or has decided to convene without me.

    I’m disappointed. We were promised community input, and a community process. So far, we’ve gotten nothing. And there has been a total lack of communication between the Expo Authority and UCLA students and staff, as far as I can tell.

    This process needs some fresh air, by which I mean it needs some transparency. Parking is just one choice that the Authority will need to make about this station. There is also a serious problem of access: the current plans for Expo make very little accommodation for either bus transfers or bicycle access. In fact, the last environmental document recommended reconfiguring Westwood Blvd in a way that would make the current (not that great) bike route a much more dangerous and crowded bike route by adding a lane of traffic and making bikes share the narrow curb lane with cars.

    The process needs to be improved, and the planning needs to be more multimodal. We should encourage bicycle, pedestrian, and bus station access by providing safe and reliable access routes for all those modes. This is not currently being done; and nobody from the Expo Authority is reaching out to seek the community’s input.

  • If I want to go downtown and I have to use my car for any part of the trip, I would usually opt to drive the whole way. Otherwise, I’d have to drive to the stop (three miles), hope to find parking, wait for a train, and then reverse the process on the way back.

    I have a friend in Long Island who refuses to take the train into New York City because it requires a transfer (!) at Jamaica Station.

    Multi-modal travel may work better for longer distances, but I don’t see it as a compelling use of money for shorter ones, like those of the Expo line. The highest and best use of Expo money is to build trains and tracks, not parking for them.

  • Bike parking demand at this station will be significant.

  • The last thing we need next a train station (if this does get built) is a public plaza, communal space, or stalls for vendors, bike share, or other small retail and service businesses. That would make LA look like a third world country like Denmark or Holland.

  • Mark

    Agree that lots of bike parking would be practically & symbolically useful. A farm stand or healthy mobile food vendors would also be nice – at all expo stations, not just this one.

  • eric

    I think if you really think about this one it’s pretty obvious that you need a parking lot at this station. The Westwood station is predicted to be the busiest station on the entire expo line. That means there will be lots of people coming and going through that area whether the people in the neighborhood like it or not. If there is not a parking lot people aren’t simply not going to park their cars nearby. Instead they’ll flood the surrounding area with cars. It funny because I think many people who live in the neighborhood think not having a parking lot will maintain the feel in the neighborhood. A parking lot is the only thing that will keep the people coming and going away from bothering the neighborhood. I know some people will say that further rules will be implemented to control parking in the neighborhood, but that won’t really work. People will always find a way and without a parking lot it will be an inconvenience to the neighborhood. Additionally it’s important to remember that this station is going to be a hub up to UCLA and the Westwood village area, so allowing people to park their cars and either take a bus up to the UCLA area, or hop on the train and go where ever is very important.

  • ds

    Build the parking lot.

    It’s a suburban area with not too great bus service. You have to make it easy to park and ride.

    I would support transit-oriented development over parking, but that’s not in the cards.

  • I think that we should do one better than a big parking lot and put a large open sewer trench through the area to remind us all that we suck and that we can aspire to nothing better than being treated like turds in a shit pipe when we’re in the right-of-way.

    Everyone knows that the whole point of a train station is so that you can live a suburban life of comfort and ease in the middle of a massive metropolis, never escaping from the nightmare world of a cars, over consumption and pollution that the 20th century brought us.

    When the sewer trench is built, we’ll al be able to lie in it and look at the stars, dreaming of someday flying into space and paving the crap out of other planets. Some day!

  • Juantwo

    $137 parking tickets will also keep people from parking in the neighborhood.

    Also, if the success of the station is determined by it’s ability to attract approximately 250 riders from 170 parking spaces, then there should be serious questions as to whether to proceed with constructing the line. But this isn’t the case. Many, many riders will walk, be dropped off, bike, or use connecting bus service. Those parking at the station will likely make up less than 5% of station boardings and alightings, but accommodating this small group of riders (some of whom will find alternatives and still ride), will require over 50% of the land area be paved over for a use that does not serve the other 95% of riders. These riders will be better served with bike parking, pedestrian plazas, open space and retail uses.

  • eric

    Let me also say that it is very important to include motorcycle, scooter, and bicycle parking at this lot. If only a handful of car spots were given to these needs you could park many many many, scooters, bicycles, and motorcycles.

  • Wilbur Wilds Hathaway II

    A park…not parking. Folks need the stress release of a little nature…birdsong,etc.

    The whole point is to pry folks from their 20th century transpo.

    I’m moving to Culver City in a few months from Seattle & have been waiting for Phase One’s completion. Between Ballona Creek to the sea, Expo & Expess busses, who needs cars?

    Great job, keep it coming.

  • Carlton Glüb

    @DS,

    The bus service at this station is close to the best you’ll find in West Los Angeles.

    During the morning rush hour, the BBB 7 and Rapid 7 are going by Pico/Westwood every 10 minutes and the 8 and 12 buses run every 15 minutes.

    @Eric,

    Echoing what Juantwo said, you can easily restrict street parking to only local residents. And, it’s a dismal use of land — in the L.A. tradition — to dedicated half of the station area to a tiny fraction of its riders.

    Plus, as others have pointed out, there will be a park and ride lot a 1/2 mile west at Sepulveda.

  • Marcotico

    I agree with no parking. If they include only 170 spaces it will be full by 8am, with spaces going to the early bird commuters. Such a small amount would be just enough to entice people nearby to “give it a shot” rather than walk, bike or drive to Sepulveda where there will be a more park and ride oriented clientele. I agree with other posters, this could a case study for a bike/ped only oriented station. If it is built as a no-parking station from the get-go then there won’t be any kind of issue with how much parking should be provided.

  • Okay, I’m changing my vote again. You guys have me convinced; less than 200 spaces will be nearly useless, most of the time. Let’s use that space for a couple hundred bike parking spaces, plus some open space, and a small retail shop for the neighborhood.

  • Warren

    Is there a bus drop off and pick up place on the property? If not,there should be. To encourage people to leave their cars at home, don’t build the parking.

  • eric

    Although I agree that 170 spaces isn’t that many spaces, I think some of the assumptions of how many people could use the lot with that amount of spaces is wrong. There are many things you could do to allow more people to use these spaces like dedicate some of them to carpools, or breaking down an including lots of motorcycle and scooter parking spaces. This lot if done right could accommodate much more than 170-200 people. I think it’s important to think about this parking lot not only being used for commuter parking ,but people working at night, and going down town on the weekends. I think if a more flexible lot was created it could be a very good thing. Also I don’t think any parking tickets will deter people from parking in the area. It doesn’t work anywhere else why there?

  • Juantwo

    Try enforcing carpool-only spaces… It’s logistically difficult.

    Parking tickets provide deterrence for subsequent decision-making. Obviously the threat of a ticket has failed to deter illegal parking for the ticketed, but after a while it works (how many people park in enforced red zones?)

    I am fine with the space being used for parking if it can command 95% occupancy at $12-$15 daily net contribution margin. But this is unlikely to be the case, and if the site’s use is going to be subsidized, the use should benefit all users. Parking doesn’t benefit all users, and there’s no way to convolute a valid argument where it does benefit all users.

  • ds

    @Juantwo

    A park wouldn’t benefit all users either. That’s an impossible standard to reach. Under that standard we certainly couldn’t have subsidized bike racks, because those would only serve a small proportion of transit riders.

    170 spaces ain’t much, but you do have to recognize the suburban nature of the neighborhoods the Expo line serves, and provide for as much park-and-ride capacity as can be affordably provided.

    It will fill up very quickly, which would suit the people who have to get started on their commute before busses start running with reasonable frequency.

  • This isn’t an abstract question. Let’s enter some facts into the debate.

    1. What percentage of Metro’s ridership owns cars? What’s the access/egress mode split for similar transit services in the vicinity, like, say the Rapid Line on Venice Blvd? These facts will help answer the question, are parking spaces going to raise ridership here? (C’mon Metro geeks – I know you got this one. Metro just did an access mode study, I believe, so the data is out there).

    2. How much is land worth here? How much public subsidy for car parking are we talking about? Let’s put some dollar signs on it.

    Otherwise, we’re just trading our personal sentiments about parking. I know somebody can insert some rigor into this back-and-forth.

  • Dino

    There is great opportunity around the Westwood station to create green space. The Expo right of way is 200 feet wide for some distance in Rancho Park. Dean Howell created an interesting plan for a Greenway that provides open space and also filters runoff water before it goes to Ballona Creek and the Santa Monica Bay.

    http://www.expogreenway.org/Howell.htm

    Why are we considering an environmentally friendly option?

  • @ds 20-30 bikes can park in the space devoted to parking a single car, and 20-30 bikes have less environmental impact on the neighborhood than a single car. Because of these desirable attributes, a public agency may seek to subsidize
    parking for bikes.

    @Herbie: my analysis wasn’t enough for you???

  • @Juantwo:

    a. Are you Juan Xootute or a different Juan?

    b. Well – you said that car riders were likely “5%” of the ridership, but this sounded like more or less a guess. Not that it sounds off. It sounds about right. I just wanted to back it up with some data.

    I did like what you said, though:

    “If the success of the station is determined by it’s ability to attract approximately 250 riders from 170 parking spaces, then there should be serious questions as to whether to proceed with constructing the line.”

    How much subsidy per car-driving rider?

    Why are taxpayers giving big ‘ol parking subsidies to wealthy riders who can afford cars?

  • Haha apparently I’m bad at reading. BUMP to Juantwo’s comment #10!

  • The Sepulveda station 1/2 mile away is planned with 260 spaces. And the Venice/Robertson station will have 845 parking spaces. Those are the right places to put parking lots. The Westwood station is the wrong place to put car parking.

    The argument that this is a “suburban” station so needs parking is ridiculous. This station will be adjacent to the busiest bus corridor in West LA (Westwood Blvd), and located near the busiest bus stop in West LA at Pico/Westwood. That’s how most people will arrive at this station… by bus. To say otherwise is willfully ignorant of the facts on the ground.

    If people want to drive to an Expo station, they will be better served at Sepulveda or Venice/Robertson.

  • tom

    If I recall (moved out of socal 10 yrs ago), Westside Pavilion is right there; how about using their garage for p&r?

  • eric

    It really seems like some people here aren’t willing to see that a parking lot is a good thing and necessary. My guess is they all live close to where that station is going to be. I’ll point out again that Metro estimates that the Westwood station will be the busiest station by far. Even if there is lots of parking at Sepulveda and Culver city that doesn’t stop this station from being the busiest and people will still go to this station. My main point is that the parking lot should be as flexible as possible to accommodate as many vehicles as possible(cars, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters etc…). If there isn’t a real effort made to allow people to park there they’ll go elsewhere. They’ll avoid parking tickets by parking at the westside pavillion even though they’re installing gates now and will limit access. People will park more at stores they can validate at libraries etc… No matter what you do you will still get some idiots parking in front of peoples driveways, yes they’ll get tickets, but that’s just the way it will be. In general a parking lot will ameliorate these kinds of situations as much as it can be eased up. The other option of a park or mixed use land comes with other issues. It’s not that much land anyways and do people right there really want businesses like food trucks right next to their house? A parking lot is clearly the best option. I suggest to the people near there they push for things like sound walls and better access in and out of the lot so there isn’t any kind of jam up in the area. This is the kind of strategy they should be looking at.

  • Carlton Glüb

    Eric,

    It’s not that there are *no* merits to a parking lot. However, as Juantwo pointed out (comment #9), if the City of LA is going to justify the costs (construction) and opportunity costs of a parking lot, they’ll need to charge around $2 an hour or about $12-15 a day per space. Most people who can drive to a station would probably just keep driving and avoid that price.

    Anything less would be an outright subsidy or driving, and I don’t want my city tax dollars doing that — beyond what it already does to a massive extent — especially at a transit hub. Because, yes, the predictions of high ridership have everything to do with connections to Big Blue Buses and therefore to UCLA and West LA destinations, and not because you could maybe accommodate 200 park-and-riders a day.

  • I want to drive

    We don’t need big parking space. We may still need some parking area (with high price parking meter) for few cars (not 170). Even in the cities that have best public transportation, people still take taxi or have friends/families pick them up. That should be for small group. People have argue that it is not convenient to get out of stations. First of WLA has one of the best public station (next DTLA) in LA. It could still be bad, but it is one of the best. If it is not good, just use the money to build the parking to improve the local bus connection. Ideally, each station should be a mini hub.
    Isn’t EXPO telling us the following
    save the money by taking metro
    I fail to see people take train and refuse to walk/bike/take bus as environmentalists.
    By proposing the parking lot, EXPO is telling us, we care about train, to get to destinations from station, you are on your own
    For the people who could not afford cars, save money to buy cars so you can park at station. In fact, but two cars. One at the Union Stations (Gold line stations , or whatever the source), and the others at Expo
    Seniors, keep driving
    Handicap, sorry
    Teenagers, ask your parents to drop/pick you up at stations

  • I want to drive

    @eric
    People at LA should be trained at one thing. Learn to live without cars especially if gov’t is spending a lot money building the train.
    For people who refuse to walk/bike/take bus, from destinations to destination, I have the feeling they will drive.
    The important thing how MTA/Blue bus going to improve local connection, so people don’t have to park cars. If there is a big demand for parking at EXPO station, EXPO is big failure project. That means transit authority only cares about trains. It only cares people who drive

  • 30~40 spaces priced to reflect real price of ~$5 per hour/$30 a day (i.e. similar to what it cost to park at Century City) may be a good idea but 170 spaces is pretty ridiculous no matter how you crunch the numbers.

  • eric

    There are two points here I would like to address.

    1. The idea that we don’t need a parking lot because people should take public transit, walk, bike to the expo station

    2. That if there is a parking lot we should charge lots of money for people to park there to recoup public money spent on this area.

    On point one I would agree that more people should try to bike, walk, take the bus to the area etc…. The most important reason being we as a society need to change our ways because of climate change. I think though as I have already pointed out two times already this station is predicted to be the busiest station on the line. I remember a number that may be off of around 9000 boardings at that station every day. Sure the parking lot won’t cover all these people, but you still need to attract as many people as possible to this station to help foster the environment where more people will use public transit. Also with that many boardings every day you essentially need to offer as many different ways of allowing people to store the way they got there at the station whether this means motorcycle parking, scooter, parking, bicycle parking, and car parking. Only a parking lot can address these needs. The other option on the table of green space doesn’t address any of these needs.

    2. The idea that a parking lot shouldn’t be built because we don’t want to spend public funds on it is foolish. The entire expo line is public funds so what difference does it make if a small amount of that money is used to build a lot? I also think this lot should be totally free. We need to encourage in as many different ways as possible the ability for people to come and go form this station. We need to think long term here.

    I’m not seeing any really good arguments here in favor of this green space only people that are against the idea of a parking lot. I think if you really think about the long term needs here a parking lot makes the most sense. My major concern is that the lot needs to be as flexible as possible to allow as many people to access the station whether by car, bicycle, walking, motorcycle, scooter, bus etc… Finally the lot should be free because we are spending our public tax money on it, and because if the cost of the lot were higher to use for people than driving downtown to work they wouldn’t use the lot, or the expo line. What we want is for people to use this and to transform this city into a more transit friendly place. A parking lot is a key part of making that happen at this station.

  • Marcotico

    eric,

    I’d like to address this idea of flexible parking you have. Let’s first off agree that any of those “flexible modes” are not what we are talking about here, we are talking current (next 5 years) standard parking spaces (maybe including charging stations if that tech moves fast enough). Count bike parking, nev, and other devices as part of the other areas. The question between the two designs is 20 automobile spaces and do anything with the rest of the space (Retail, Open Space, Bike Station, Mobility HUB) or 170 automobile spaces. It would be much easier long term to transform open space to bike parking than it currently is to change car parking to bike parking. (Witness what 1 yr for a bike corral).

    Also to your other point about green space, the reason green space is needed is because LA needs it. Read Eden by Design, the preface talks about the missed opportunity of a 1930s plan for LA, and they talk about how lacking all of LA is in accessible open space. If you google earth the whole corridor the only openspace is a golf course. Even a small area can have a path gives people a place to walk, or just sit.

    Personally my vote is for option 1, with small station serving retail, improved bus transfer, and a big off-street bike parking facility.

  • Metro seems to be LA County’s premier free parking champion. I had no idea they had so many “Free” spaces at their park and ride lots. I don’t have the time to do the math, but I wonder what the value of all these spaces are worth and how much the tax payers are being ripped off.

    http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/paid_parking/images/laCountyParkRideLots.pdf

  • eric

    I appreciate the thought about which option to chose, but if you look at other parking lots all over the city they have been transformed over time to be updated to whatever the transportation needs are. They have had parking spots for electric cars added like you mentioned, spots for short term parking, etc…etc… I agree with you that more green space in L.A. is needed, but this wouldn’t be that much green space. It would be right next to the train and I don’t think it would be very much used.
    Additionally a very large public park is about a quarter of a mile east of the westwood station.

    The basic point here is green space cannot be changed or updated over time to better serve the transit needs at that time. Also if people really want some retail needs at the station like a coffee shop or a little food spot, a food truck could always be given access to one of the spots in the parking lot.

    Also let me address all these points about recouping money from these stations. It’s a mistake to charge anything at these stations. You couldn’t really make back your money anyways. No one is going to pay 20 bucks to park at a lot like this, instead they’ll just chose to drive to work or where ever they’re going. The reason these metro lots are free is you need free lots to attract some people to take the trains. We need to think about alternatives long term to cars and getting some people out of their cars with a parking lot here is a stepping stone for that.

    I think we’re really getting off point though, the main point here is how to address the influx of thousands of people going to and from that station everyday. If you don’t have a parking lot that eases how people come and go from this spot it’s not going to make anything easier in the area. It will only congest things more as more people pull up to drop people off, or look for secret free parking, or just drive around the neighborhood looking for free parking. A parking lot eases the coming and going around the area which is what’s needed. A green space does none of this, and wouldn’t really do much for the community anyways. It’s too small a space and wouldn’t really function for any real purpose. No one would go running at the park, no one could really play games there since it’s right next to where the trains come and go. Come on the green option doesn’t really provide any benefits while a parking does provide many benefits.

  • @ eric

    I’d be down to meet up for coffee and talk about the basics of The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup. The book is the most comprehensive and careful consideration of who loses and who wins in parking policy. I would highly recommend reading it. I tried to convey some of the most important points about the book here:

    http://meekadjustments.blogspot.com/2010/02/free-parking-like-freedom-isnt-really.html

    What it comes down to is that OF COURSE we should debate where our public tax money goes. That’s the whole point of a democracy. Lots of us on here want public money to protect public goods we care about. For me, public money should clean the air, keep a social contract with the poor and the most vulnerable, protect public goods that are undervalued by the market, like open space and parks, and just generally make a better society. I think we can do all these things by moving away from cars, and making alternatives to cars possible. I think that up to this point we probably agree.

    Where we differ – and where I think Shoup’s book becomes very important – is in the role of parking in advancing those goals. As Shoup shows, underpriced subsidized parking – of the kind you’d like to see at Westwood Station – exacerbates congestion, causes people to abandon other modes, and represents a transfer of wealth from all taxpayers to drivers. I want none of this, and I especially don’t want it near a transit station.

    Take a minute to think about the transit systems you think are very successful. How many of them rely heavily on cars as an access mode?

    Transit’s success depends on the cost of driving (i.e. in NYC it’s very expensive to drive and park which makes the subway much more attractive – most people in NYC who have access to free parking drive), density, frequency, and a whole host of other things. Successful transit systems don’t depend on parking spaces at stations, with the exception of commuter rail, by far the most highly subsidized and least equitable transit mode.

    Shoup’s book shows that if we take your logic about parking and apply it to not just transit stations but grocery stores, apartments, banks, coffee shops, restaurants, etc, etc, well, we get sprawl. We get Houston. We get cities so spread out by parking that transit is all of a sudden very unappealing and very hard to operate.

    Finally, hell yeah we need green space. We need great parks. We need trees and plazas and places to picnic. I love having parks near my house. I value them greatly.

    Again I don’t mean to antagonize because I really think you mean well in your comments. And I would be down to grab food or coffee with you or pretty much any Streetsblog poster anytime to just add some humanity to our dialogue.

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