L.A. Finally Embraces Sanity on Parking Policy

Parking minimums have led to parking lots that aren't always the best use of private space. Photo:Gary Kavanagh

Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council embraced looser parking standards that will allow communities some flexibility in creating parking standards for new development. The full motion can be read here.

For decades, Los Angeles has labored under a “one size fits all” approach to parking.  This has led to businesses that are forced to put parking lots over urban design and has stopped the city from looking, and being all that it could be. It’s led to “transit oriented developments” with two deeded parking spaces per unit.

There are some parts of the city already blessed with relaxed parking requirements such including the area near the Red Line Station in Hollywood and Western and the Atwater Village, where shops were able to buy their way out of parking minimums.

There are seven tools that can be employed in a  Modified Parking Requirement Districts.

First, the city can exempt businesses that change the existing use of a building from needing to change the buildings parking. The popular example is a restaurant that moves into a space that was once used as a book store. Restaurants require more parking than bookstores under existing code.

Second, the developer could move parking off-site, within 1,500 feet of the entrance. This allows for mixed-use parking lots or shared lots.

Commercial parking credits similar to what was done to create the Atwater Commercial District are now on the table for any district that wants one.

Most obviously, developers can just request a relaxation of the city’s parking requirements.  Districts can also ask for either decreased or increased parking minimums.

Despite the apocalyptical warnings of “community advocates” who fear businesses with inadequate parking will lead to a flood of traffic on local streets, getting the designation of a special parking district is still a lengthy and difficult process.

First, 3/4 of business owners and residents within the district have to support the program. Next the application is prepared by city staff before a public hearing in front of the City Planning Commission. If the Commission passes the proposal, it’s on to the City Council Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUM) for another public hearing. If the PLUM committee passes the district, it moves on to the full City Council. After the Council vote, it requires the signature of the Mayor.

For more on the new rule, visit the Los Angeles Times and Curbed.