Eyes on the Street: Posts Against Cars Parking on Koreatown Sidewalks

Anti-parking posts like these (which didn't prevent the car from its spot) are proliferating in Koreatown. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Anti-parking posts like these (which didn't prevent the car from its spot) are proliferating in Koreatown. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

In 2015, I posted about what appeared to be a relatively new situation: a seemingly increasing number of cars parking on Koreatown sidewalks. I mentioned that I basically never saw this in my neighborhood only 5-10 years ago.

Note that Koreatown is Los Angeles’ most population-dense neighborhood. It is among the most heavily walked neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles. All of these photos are within ten blocks of the Beverly/Vermont Red Line Station.

In the past year, from my anecdotal travels in my neighborhood, sidewalk parking seems to keep getting worse. Cars parked in parkways and on wide sidewalks seem to now be part of Koreatown’s new normal.

Parkway parking in Koreatown this afternoon
Parkway parking in Koreatown this afternoon.
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Cars parked illegally in the parkway today.
Another car on a Koreatown sidewalk today
Another car on another Koreatown sidewalk today.

A week or so ago, I spotted something new.

Posts against sidewalk parking in Koreatown
Posts against sidewalk parking in Koreatown

For a block of New Hampshire Avenue – between Third and Fourth Streets – there are new upright metal posts placed in paved driveway areas and along sidewalks. They appear to be DIY, not official. There is no signage, but they do appear to keep cars off of parkway areas. Most of the posts are in front of somewhat recent (a couple decades old) apartment buildings, most built with ground floor parking. Near these are several older buildings (nearly a century old) with little-to-no on-site parking. Perhaps these posts are apartment owners’ efforts to stave off the blight of cars parked all over their frontage.

After I first saw those posts, I have been noticing them all over Koreatown, especially the rectangle bound by Beverly Boulevard, Vermont Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard and Normandie Avenue.

A dozen yellow posts at the corner of First and Catalina Streets
A dozen yellow posts at the corner of First and Catalina Streets.
This Koreatown anti-parking post is a locked retractable bollard
This Koreatown anti-parking post is a locked retractable bollard. More posts in the background.
The front yard of this fourplex is already half-paved for parking. Posts (one of which lies prone) keep cars off the parkway.
The front yard of this fourplex is already half-paved for parking. Posts (one of which lies prone) attempt to keep cars off the parkway.
Posts keep cars off this parkway, where soil has become compacted and barren despite ample recent rains
Graffiti-ed posts keep cars off this parkway, where soil has become compacted and barren despite ample recent rains.
Most are painted yellow, but these Koreatown anti-parking posts are stainless steel
Most anti-parking posts are painted yellow, but these Koreatown ones are stainless steel

If I had to choose between parked cars and posts, I guess I would take the posts. The posts don’t try to drive on the sidewalk. Nonetheless it feels like replacing one pedestrian barrier with another.

Readers – I ask: are other Angelenos seeing a proliferation of cars parking on sidewalks and parkways? What neighborhoods? What should we do to reverse this trend? Would things be better if parking restrictions were enforced? Are there any ways to prevent these drivers from storing their cars on space that would otherwise belong to pedestrians?

  • calwatch

    There needs to be a market for paid, secure parking accessible 24/7 in the area. Currently many office buildings have lots but they shut down at 7 or 8 pm because they are not attended. Much of this is ad hoc, people selling spaces to their friends, but connecting empty parking spaces to residents seems basic. And as much as I hate RPPs, maybe an overnight residential parking zone is needed to kick some of these cars off the street, especially at night, and charge fair market value for car storage.

  • Joe Linton

    Yes! A church on my blocks rents parking spaces (for $50 per month – with no parking Saturday sundown to Sunday sundown)… this should be more the norm. Unfortunately, some of the bigger parking lots here belong to… LAUSD… who aren’t so good at sharing.

  • James L.A.

    Sadly, in the last year or so, this had become very common in Westwood as well–all around the fraternities. The cars are never ticketed…I don’t understand why it is legal.

  • stvr

    This really makes the city ugly.

  • Mary Peralta

    Hi Joe, as you know I live in Ktown and parking barriers haven’t popped up in my area by 9th & Mariposa. This parking trend has been growing over 2016 and into this year. It’s annoying to say the least. I have noticed some prop owners plant more trees and plants on the plant/grass strip on Mariposa to dissuade the motorists. That’s a better sight than random posts.

  • Karl Fielding

    Check out Berendo between 4th and 5th in ktown, lots of posts and torn up grass with deep tire ruts. These are all installed by the property owners. I asked a parking officer to ticket the cars and he said they used to, but due to the high demand of parking in the area they don’t any more. He also said that as long as the vehicles don’t block the sidewalk and are fully within the strip along the curb, that is technically public right of way and it’s not illegal to park there. A better solution is needed.

  • Joel Epstein

    Thanks for this piece! I see it as a growing problem as well along South Serrano and South Oxford. A few well-timed tows would probably help stop the practice. On S. Serrano near 7th, one of the small apartment buildings has planted new trees/bushes to deter the parking. It’s working sometimes. No such luck on S. Oxford just north of the freeway known as Olympic Blvd.

  • Joe Linton

    At a minimum, it’s illegal to drive on the sidewalk to get to these spaces.

  • Joe Linton

    Hmmm… if only officers enforced pedestrian laws like this: due to the high demand for walking in the area, we don’t enforce “jaywalking” any more.

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Not so much a problem in NELA, but I’ve noticed this while exploring SW edges of CD1. A good example of how council district management comes into play. Field deputies of Ryu/Wesson/Cedillo should see this problem, have LADOT do parking enforcement, and better regulate parking barriers.

  • LAguttersnipe

    I’ve been in Virgil Village for almost 4 years and no one ever parked on the public strip. All of a sudden everyone is parking on the public strip, people driving on the sidewalk to get to a parking space and those poles are popping up everywhere to stop them.

  • User_1

    Get more active on handing out tickets and watch this clean up! Might even get peeps to start riding bikes or get rid of those hideous yellow poles. Oh what’s the world coming to? Getting mom to ride a bike. :-(

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    First of all, only the photo from the Sea Dragon Chinese Restaurant shows a car parking on the sidewalk. The remainder are parking on the “Apron”.

    A simple Google search of “Apron Parking Los Angeles” will bring up the September 2011 debate and City Council ruling. Even though Apron Parking is illegal, the City Council voted to suspend enforcement of Apron Parking laws.

    That said, the owners of the property either do not want their tenants or strangers parking on “Their” apron (technically, the apron is city property; but is the responsibility of the attached property owner to maintain). That’s why you are seeing the bollards.

    There are many neighborhoods in Los Angeles with older apartment buildings that have more units than parking spaces (Westwood, East Hollywood, K-Town, etc.). These neighborhoods (primarily Westwood) are the ones that successfully petitioned the City Council to suspend the enforcement of Apron Parking laws.

  • Joe Linton

    Apron parking, if I understand correctly, refers to parking in one’s own driveway, extending across the sidewalk (none of these pictures show that – though it’s not hard to find in Koreatown.) I think that parkway and sidewalk parking is different than apron parking.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate
  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    In addition, many cars do straddle the apron and the street. (See link to Westwood.) This is not enforced either.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@34.067644,-118.4513566,3a,60y,349.91h,79.64t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBpaQ9CXEGpjdmTKdCl171w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

  • Joe Linton

    Yes – according to that diagram, none of these photos are apron parking. (Apron parking is another problem, and a barrier to pedestrian and wheelchair access)

  • John K

    Back in 2015, I caught the attention of a parking enforcement officer on Catalina at 1st Street, which, in my observation, was the epicenter of this sidewalk parking epidemic (likely because the two blocks north of 1st are permit parking only).

    I asked about all the cars parked on the parkways, and they told me that there is nothing the city can do, that she was told not to ticket those drivers. It had something to do with the interpretation of “apron parking,” since none of the cars were technically on the sidewalk, but on the adjacent parkway. She also added that she thought it was “tacky as hell.”

    That park of Koreatown is very historic, with a large concentration of 1920s apartment buildings, with wide parkways between the street and the sidewalk. When I lived there, it was such a pleasant place to walk with our dog after work, but the parking issue really destroyed the feel of the neighborhood. And in the morning, which everyone trying to leave, it became downright dangerous to walk.

    Now that I live in Historic Fillipinotown, I’ve noticed this trend is spreading. Two cars now do it nightly on my block, and it’s happening up and down Rampart. It’s a personal pet peeve. I understand people need a place to park, but those parkway areas always seemed like they were designed for neighborhood beautification, not to be personal parking spaces.

  • John K

    I saw some drivers plow over newly planted trees over on Catalina. Such a waste.

  • Vulcan Logic

    For about a block in my neighborhood outside of new orleans, a group of neighbors banded together some time back to install wooden posts right at the edge of the curb. They’re close enough together to keep cars off the verge/easement but far enough apart to let doors open without trouble. All that’s needed then is ‘shutting the gate’ on cars driving along the sidewalk/easement to get around them. It works very well AND keeps them from up-parking, which is actually the intended goal (putting the outer tires up over the ramped curb in an effort to protect their mirrors from passing cars, which of course just makes drivers more likely to speed and be careless)

  • John K

    A bit off-topic, I wish LAUSD would also open their school fields after hours so they can double as parkland in a city that is notoriously poor in neighborhood parks.

  • Kevin Brunke

    I’m not sure about apron parking but Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s deputy, Aram Taslagyan, has come to the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council to discuss the issue, saying that the city suspended enforcement after a lawsuit. According to him, the lawsuit is or close to being resolved and enforcement will resume. I’d suggest emailing him at aram.taslagyan@lacity.org for clarification.

  • Joe Linton

    I agree. There were some efforts for LA City Rec&Parks to jointly operate some playgrounds (including nearby Dayton Heights – near L.A. City College)… but more needs to be done to open these up.

  • Karl Fielding

    Amen!

  • I see it a lot in the more densely-populated areas — Koreatown, Westlake, Filipinototown, Little Bangladesh. I also saw it a lot in Palms, which I suppose it one of the most-densely populated neighborhoods on the Westside.

    Those poles are pretty ugly too… but better than cars. A bit of landscaping with hearty native plants and some well-placed rocks would also do the job.

  • Maggie Ritter

    In Northern California, I live in a town with a large Hispanic population. They tend to park on their lawn ALL THE TIME. I think it is a cultural thing. My neighbors park on their lawn regardless of all the unlimited parking by their house.

  • mortacai

    So what is the shocking takeaway here? That if you don’t prove enough parking then people will bend the rules? Gee, I think i might already know that.

    Why cure the symptoms instead of curing the problem?

  • gb52

    There will never be enough parking. Parking is a finite commodity but people just keep adding more cars to the mix. Then people start breaking rules and it becomes normal. It’s just like speeding and rolling stops. People don’t realize cities aren’t for cars, it’s for people.

  • mortacai

    You may be right but, even so, if the voters demand more parking and your response is o give them less parking, how do you assess your re-election prospects?

  • Joe Linton

    My takeaway is that public-area space in my neighborhood is being taken away from pedestrians and given to cars. This is dangerous – these cars are driving on sidewalks – and ugly. As someone who does not own a car, I find this upsetting.

  • Laura Pritt

    What church?

  • Joe Linton

    Mijoo Peace Church – on Bimini Place

  • Eileen Bauer

    But rocks can be moved… unless they were _really_ large, like they are in a field under the approach to LaGuardia airport

  • Eileen Bauer

    Maybe some railroad style planters ?

  • that would be nice too… raised beds, but yeah, I was thinking of foot stool sized boulders

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