Eyes on the Street: Griffith Observatory Parking Lot and Shuttle Line

The line for the Griffith Observatory DASH shuttle last Saturday. Photos by Drew Mabry
The line for the Griffith Observatory DASH shuttle last Saturday. Photos by Drew Mabry

The recently expanded Griffith Observatory DASH shuttle, coupled with new parking fees, are working to reduce congestion in Griffith Park. On a clear beautiful Saturday afternoon (April 1 at 3:06 p.m.) Drew Mabry took these two photos. The image above shows long lines for the now-popular shuttle. The image below shows the Griffith Observatory parking lot fairly empty, in contrast with recent traffic jams that took place when the parking was all free.

The Griffith Observatory parking lot last Saturday afternoon
The Griffith Observatory parking lot last Saturday afternoon

Commenters on these photos, posted at the Keep Griffith Wild Facebook page, have suggested that more shuttle service may be needed to handle demand. With parking at $4/hour, there is a lot of incentive for Observatory visitors to ride the 50-cent shuttle.

Shuttle service and parking fees were just launched on March 21, and are expected to get an early trial-by-fire handling gridlock-inducing Spring Break crowds from April 7 through April 17.

In other Griffith Park access news:

  • Due to a lawsuit, the city Department of Recreation and Parks will close the popular Griffith Park access at the Beachwood Gate. This entrance is popular due to its proximity to the Hollywood Sign. The closure takes effect immediately after Spring Break, beginning April 18, 2017.
  • On Friday, the L.A. City Council approved a motion by City Councilmember David Ryu to pay $100,000 for a new Griffith Park “access and mobility” study. The study, funded by Ryu’s Council District 4 discretionary funds, will “focus on the impacted areas near the western side of Griffith Park,” proposing “best practices for public access and Hollywood Sign viewing along the various hiking trails, all while continuing to protect the urban wilderness elements of the Park.”
  • stvr

    The next step would be to vary pricing based on demand. Obviously $4/hour is too expensive given how empty that lot is.

  • calwatch

    Definitely. I think $4 a day is more reasonable, especially for a venue like Griffith park where one may not know how much time they may spend. $4 an hour is probably the most expensive parking in the city on weekends – even Hollywood and Highland is cheaper.

  • Patrick Jackson

    This is great. I wonder how many people are taking transit all the way vs parking in Los Feliz.

  • I rode up there this morning. I thought they weren’t going to charge until 10am?

  • Patrick Jackson

    I think somewhere in between the two is ideal. Maybe $2/hour.

  • Jake Bloo

    That line is incredible, and indicates that the DASH needs to be more flexible/ready to increase frequency during busy times—such as a weekend or a Spring Break(!) weekend.

    Despite there being an empty parking lot, there are still a lot of cars making their up into Griffith Park. I walked up there on Sunday morning and there were cars heading in there.

    I haven’t heard any anecdotal evidence or freakouts on Nextdoor to say that people are parking in the residential neighborhoods beneath Griffith Park, so unclear how people are beginning their DASH trips up to the Observatory.

    Bottomline is that this is a good thing, and it isn’t the time yet to back down from the aggressive intentions of this plan: more people on shuttles, fewer in cars.

  • PFT Future

    I’m definitely in the camp of variable pricing based on demand, maybe with a cap at $4/hr or whatever is observed to provide approximately 85% capacity. I do think it should be observed over a period of time as photos are a moment in time and the charging just started. The City already has variable pricing for on-street parking in other parts of the City and it would be a good place to further expand that program.

  • EcoAdvocate

    What they could do, even if they end up reducing rates after a bit of study at $4/hr, is decrease the size of the parking lot. If they find even at some lower price, $3 hour the lot is still, maybe 60% full, the next time the lot is scheduled to be repaved some of the spaces could be broken up with bioswales and be a good example of better stormwater management.
    Also it will be needed to consider the demand for shuttle transit not just at the peak times, but if there was a variable rate (or free parking at times), then at off-peak times there may not be enough people to run a shuttle at those times at all because they’re all driving up.

  • Jim

    Was just there spent over an hour driving: first up to the observatory only being told the lot was full and not given the chance to turn around had to drive all the way down the other side of the mountain. Then after googling how to get to the observatory drove around the residential neighborhood to find parking to take the bus. Be careful I saw someone hit a car trying to park between houses. Then on the bus took about 45 minutes to drive to the observatory. This new parking arrangement is worse than any city planner could have designed, Ive been here tons of times prior with no trouble parking at the observatory lot.

    Notice the picture is taken mid-day.. Of course there are no cars to a place were you view things at night.. uh duh..