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A Peek Into the Future of Metro Transit Station Parking

Multi-story free parking structure at Metro Gold Line Atlantic Station may not remain free for long. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Multi-story free parking structure at Metro Gold Line Atlantic Station may not remain free for long. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At today’s Metro board of directors Planning and Programming Committee the board and the public got its first look into Metro’s in-process plans for managing parking at transit stations. Metro has a couple of parking initiatives underway. The agency is creating its Supportive Transit Parking Program Master Plan (STPP) and a Parking Guidance System (PGS) and evaluating its current Parking Management Pilot Program and Monthly Parking Permit Program. All these are explained below.

Details on the parking initiatives were included in a staff report, which includes only a preliminary outline still subject to changes before it guides Metro parking practices. The item was planned as a consent calendar receive-and-file, but boardmembers Paul Krekorian and Hilda Solis voices questions and concerns about rail terminus parking in each of their districts: North Hollywood Red Line Station and Atlantic Gold Line Station respectively.

Details on specific Metro parking initiatives after the jump.  Read more…

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More Parking, Fewer Units Could Be Mar Vista Council Prescription for Venice Blvd Housing Project

Rendering of the proposed project at 12444 Venice Blvd. via the Mar Vista Community Council website.

Rendering of the proposed project at 12444 Venice Blvd. via the Mar Vista Community Council website.

Tomorrow night, the Mar Vista Community Council will hear from the public about a proposed mixed-use housing project slated for 12444 Venice Boulevard.

The proposed project would replace an existing strip mall. The proposal is for a new 85-foot tall building with 77 units (seven of which would be affordable) and about 2,100 square feet of ground-floor retail. It would include more bike parking (89 spaces) than vehicle parking (75 spaces) both at ground level and below.

At a recent meeting of the Mar Vista Community Council Land Use Committee, many of the usual concerns about new housing projects were raised. According to Argonaut coverage of the meeting last month, the building height was the primary concern.

A letter [PDF] to the City Planning Department from Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin revealed that some residents were also concerned by the lack of parking.

The question that will be answered Tuesday is whether the Mar Vista Community Council will support this project or if they will call for fewer units and more parking.

“The proposed project only provides 75 parking spaces, despite the fact that it has 77 residential units and over 2,000 square feet of ground floor retail,” Bonin wrote in his letter, dated July 12. “The limited parking will place a tremendous strain on the surrounding residential community.”

According to Bonin’s letter, not only is there not enough parking, but parking should not be at grade, lest it interfere with Venice Boulevard’s transformation into a Great Street. It ignores the negative impact on the walkability of Venice that would come with inviting more cars to the area by adding more parking, underground or not.

Bonin also expressed concern about the building’s height.

“The proposed project is seven stories and 85 feet in height, which is significantly taller than any other building on Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista,” Bonin wrote in his letter. “Such a change is material and should be discussed at a public hearing.”

It is unclear if a height reduction would mean a loss of units. The proposed plans for the project include an alternative, shorter building with the same number of units, but with less architectural variety.

Still, the conversation surrounding this project is emblematic of confused priorities. The city of Los Angeles is facing a severe housing shortage that is driving up the cost of housing and forcing moderate and low-income people out of neighborhoods like Mar Vista that only a decade ago were relatively affordable.

An increase in quality jobs in the area combined with stagnation in housing growth has meant that moderate and low-income households are now competing with higher-earning households for the same units.

The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office issued a report earlier this year that reiterated that if California is serious about curbing displacement, then the state should be building a lot more housing, including market-rate housing.

While 77 units is a drop in the bucket, it is a much-needed one at a time when families are being forced out of the state because they can’t afford the cost of housing.

From a livable streets perspective, even with at-grade parking, the project would be a huge improvement over the strip mall that currently occupies the site. Bonin is right to celebrate the transformation of Venice Boulevard into a new multi-modal thoroughfare. He is also right to assure that when properties are redeveloped along the new Venice Boulevard, they augment and improve the street life for people–not just cars.

Putting parking underground advances walkability goals. Requiring more parking on the property does not. More parking would likely increase vehicle trips in the area. Underground parking is very expensive. Investing in more parking spaces to store more cars means fewer resources available to house people.

There is a delicate balance to be struck here, with various goals sometimes in conflict. Will the community prioritize parking over housing, as L.A. has too often done in the past? Or can a consensus emerge that truly serves L.A.’s multi-modal future? Attend tomorrow night’s meeting and make your voice heard.

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Eyes on the Street: Metro Expo Line 2 Has Parking Available

Plenty of Expo Line parking available at the Bundy station. Photo taken Monday at 8 a.m. by Juan Matute

Plenty of Expo Line parking available at the Bundy station. Photo taken Monday at around 8 a.m. by Juan Matute

Expo

Plenty of Expo Line parking available at the 17th Street station. Photo taken today at around 8 a.m. by Juan Matute

Someone get the word out to all those eager Metro Expo Line riders that the L.A. Times, Los Angeles Magazine and KTLA5 were so concerned about! Get the word out to Pacific Palisades! Lo and behold, it turns out that there is actually plenty of car parking available along the newly-opened Metro Expo Line phase 2.

There are lots of people riding the new train. Sometimes the train cars get crowded. It turns out that, as in the past, apparently Expo is not that different from the rest of Metro’s transit network where more than 80 percent of riders arrive by walking. As SBLA opined earlier, it does appear that:

Metro has done a good job of balancing its investments in access to the Expo Line. By investing in parking, bus service, bike and walk facilities, Metro is giving Angelenos plenty of great choices.

The questions now may be: Why are there so many empty spaces? Why did Metro build so much parking (roughly 5-10 million dollars worth)?  Read more…

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L.A. Moves Toward Returning Parking Meter Revenue To Neighborhoods

Pasadena parking meter revenue returns to neighborhoods where it is collected. Soon L.A. may implement a similar program.

Pasadena parking meter revenue returns to neighborhoods where it is collected. L.A. plans to implement a similar program soon.

Parking expert Donald Shoup has long asserted that one cornerstone of smart parking policy is to return parking meter revenue to the neighborhoods where the revenue is generated. When parking meters feed an anonymous city general fund, as much of the city of L.A.’s meter revenue does, then parking meters are perceived as burden to communities. When local meter revenue goes to fund local improvements, then neighborhoods tend to welcome the meters.

There is a much-repeated Pasadena anecdote showing the power of revenue return. When the city of Pasadena wanted to install parking meters in its Old Pasadena neighborhood, there was resistance from local merchants. When Pasadena proposed using the meter revenue just to improve Old Pasadena, merchants responded: can we run the meters at night and on weekends!?

Revenue return is key to generating the political will to implementing meters and charging appropriate rates for parking.

Under a suite of parking reform motions by L.A. City Councilmember Bonin, the city and its Department of Transportation (LADOT) are moving toward a pilot program where a portion of parking meter revenue will be returned to neighborhoods. Bonin’s very Shoupista motion 15-1450-S4 calls on LADOT to begin a “pilot program that would return a portion of local meter revenue to the locations where it was generated” and for that funding to go to “transportation improvements.” LADOT is interpreting “transportation improvements” very broadly to include sidewalk repair, bike corrals, beautification, parking, etc.

At today’s Transportation Committee meeting, LADOT appeared poised to begin the program in FY2016-17 in three pilot areas, with probable expansion citywide in FY2107-18.  Read more…

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Metro Committee Approves All-Paid Parking For 3 New Expo Stations

Yesterday, Metro’s Planning and Programming Committee approved the initial phase of the agency’s new Parking Management Pilot Program. The program is anticipated to begin with three new Expo station parking lots in May: Sepulveda, Bundy, and 17th Street.

The pilot is anticipated to expand to nine rail station parking lots by Winter 2016.

Here is how it will work:

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Drivers with TAP cards validate when entering the parking lot. Image via Metro

Returning Transit Riders

Returning riders will show their TAP card to a parking attendant, who, like Metro security do, will validate that the TAP card has been used in the past few days. The driver will pay the parking attendant or show their paid monthly permit.

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Drivers without TAP cards are required to validate after riding Metro. Image via Metro

New Transit Riders

New riders would not have a TAP card yet. They will receive an “exception ticket” which is placed on the car dashboard. After the driver parks and rides, they subsequently have to link their TAP payment to their parking, either online or in person with a parking attendant.

Approval Process

The committee discussion was energetic, with boardmembers Sheila Kuehl and Mike Bonin intent on managing the user experience at Expo stations in neighborhoods they represent. Kuehl spoke of the need to utilize Metro parking to get her constituents “who drive all the time” out of their cars.

Bonin anticipated that monthly parking passes will sell out immediately upon being made available, likely in April. Though Bonin suggested a lottery for initial permits, Metro staff responded that the plan is to make Expo Phase 2 parking permits available on a straightforward first-come first-served basis, as has been Metro’s practice in the past. Historically many Metro station monthly permits have long wait lists, arguably because Metro’s below-market pricing has led to permit supply being insufficient to meet demand. The parking pilot is retooling the monthly permits somewhat. Under the pilot, in order to prevent “poaching” (non-transit riders purchasing monthly permits), monthly pass holders will be required to ride Metro at least ten times per month to be eligible to renew monthly parking permits.

Read more…

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Cartoon Tuesday: Joe’s Parking and Vision Zero Comics

Parking Comics #1 from Melthology #14, art by Joe Linton

Parking Comics #1 from Melt-Thology #14, art by Joe Linton

It’s a bit of shameless self-promotion, but I wanted to share of pair of comics pages that I drew. These comment on issues that many Streetsblog L.A. readers care about: parking and Vision Zero. I think that parking, of all the issues that dramatically affect cities, is highly misunderstood, and I wanted to see if I could use a fun visual medium to begin to scratch the surface of the insights I’ve learned from parking expert Donald Shoup.

Vision Zero Comics from Melt-Thology #16. Art by Joe Linton

Vision Zero Comics from Melt-Thology #16. Art by Joe Linton

Apologies that these aren’t highly polished and thoroughly plotted masterworks. Read more…

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Metro Proposes Pilot For All-Paid Parking At Nine Stations

Should Metro parking policies

Metro may soon eliminate wasteful parking subsidies at several rail stations, including Atlantic Station in East Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Metro board will hear a promising proposal [PDF] that increases paid parking at nine stations on three Metro rail lines. According to The Source, the proposal will be presented to the Metro board this month, voted on in March, and go into effect in May if approved.

Charging for station parking was recommended under Metro’s 2015 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) review, which states: “Station parking is expensive to build and maintain” and “[parking] costs should be partially recovered to avoid giving park-and-ride customers the largest subsidies, to increase agency revenues, and to effectively manage parking supply.” APTA reviewers further stated that park-and-ride subsidizes higher income riders, decreases transit’s air quality benefits, and that it would be better to invest in convenient, frequent bus service.

Metro

Metro graph showing how rail patrons arrive at selected stations.

Metro’s figures, included in the proposal [PDF] show that, even with expensive large parking lots at stations, only 8 to 15 percent of rail riders park at the station. The majority of riders arrive by bus; approximately a third arrive by “other methods” including walking and bicycling.

Metro justifies the pilot on the basis that “non-driving transit patrons are currently under the [accurate] perception that their transit fare is subsidizing parking” with “operations of parking are currently being maintained by Metro’s annual budget without generating any parking revenue to recover a portion of its costs.” Metro estimates the pilot 9-station program is estimated to generate approximately $600,000 in annual revenue.  Read more…

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Take Metro’s Parking Survey, Keep Up With Metro’s Parking Master Plan

Metro is promoting its parking survey via sandwich board ads, including this one at Expo Culver City. Photo: Damien Newton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro is promoting its parking survey via sandwich board ads, including this one at Expo Culver City. The sign asks riders to text their response to 213.322.1184. Photo: Damien Newton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro’s The Source announced an online survey in which the agency is soliciting input on its station parking. Take the survey here – participants are eligible to win a monthly transit pass. Metro’s survey is one of the first steps in Metro’s Supportive Transit Parking Program (STPP) Master Plan.

Streetsblog readers will recall that SBLA has been pretty critical of Metro’s massive investment in free parking at many of its stations. It doesn’t take a Shoupista to understand that surrounding station portals with massive parking lots does not make great places where transit riders want to go. Even Metro’s 2015 American Public Transportation Association review stressed that subsidizing parking works against Metro’s equity and environmental goals. Money Metro chooses to invest in subsidizing parking serves the roughly ten percent of Metro riders who drive, at the expense of the nearly 90 percent who predominantly arrive by foot. (link updated)

The survey is a little frustrating. As pointed out by The Source commenter Ron, the first question asks how you get to Metro’s (rail) stations. You are only allowed one answer, and this shapes what future questions you get to respond to.

Metro is posting parking survey promotional signs at some stations, but apparently not others. Damien Newton spotted the above sign at the Metro Expo Line Culver City Station, which features $2.5 million dollars worth of free parking. I haven’t seen any sandwich board signs yet at the Vermont/Beverly or Wilshire/Vermont stations, which coincidentally feature no free parking. Readers – where have you spotted these signs? Is there a pattern to where Metro is deploying them?

Also, English appears to be the only language the survey is available in. Updated: Metro’s Steve Hymon emailed: If you want to take the survey in Spanish, please text 323-688-4659 and type in the letter ‘a’ or find the Spanish survey on-line here.

Nonetheless, take the survey to get Metro’s parking plan off to a good start.

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Councilmember Bonin Introduces Seven Parking Reform Motions

Today L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin introduced seven parking reform motions. Graphic from CM Bonin

Today L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin introduced seven parking reform motions. Graphic from CM Bonin

Today, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin introduced seven council motions [PDF] that would reform parking. The motions are wide-ranging: from diverting parking meter revenue back into neighborhoods where it is generated, to tiering parking ticket fines, to expanding dynamic pricing via Express Park.

The motions grew out of recommendations from Mayor Garcetti’s Los Angeles Parking Reform Working Group’s final report titled “Proposals for Parking Reform in the City of Los Angeles” [PDF] as discussed at Transportation Committee in October.

Here is a run-down of Bonin’s seven parking reform motions:

  1. Update L.A.’s Five-Year Parking Plan
    In some ways this is Bonin’s omnibus motion that carries motions number 2, 4, and 6 below. The Department of Transportation (LADOT) is due to submit its occasional maintenance and operations plan for city parking, including city parking revenue. Bonin’s motion requests that LADOT’s next parking plan include: expansion of Express Park, “Code the Curb,” and “a pilot project to return a portion of parking meter revenue for investment in local transportation improvements.”
  2. “Code the Curb”
    Enabled/funded by motion 1 above, Bonin’s motion sets up city departments to do an electronic inventory of all of the city’s parking assets. This will enable the city to implement “dynamic digital parking systems that can communicate with the public in real-time and replace the static parking regulations of today.”
  3. Ensure Fair Fines
    One mantra of the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative has been to make parking ticket fines less onerous. Bonin’s motion directs city departments to evaluate a tiered pricing scheme where first-time offenders pay less, and drivers with multiple violations gradually get stiffer and stiffer fines.
  4. Expand Express Park
    Bonin is seeking to expand L.A. Express Park variable-priced meter parking now in effect in downtown L.A. and recently expanded to Westwood. The way Express Park works is that the city monitors how full on-street parking spaces are, then adjusts parking meter prices with a goal of keeping between 70 and 90 percent of spaces occupied. On blocks where there is little demand for parking, hourly rates are made cheaper. On blocks where it is very hard to find an open space, hourly rates are increased. Meter rates also vary by the time of day and the day of the week.
    The motion specifically looks to expand Express Park to Venice, Hollywood and Exposition/USC areas, and then to all metered parking throughout the city.
  5. Coordinate Freight Parking
    This motion directs LADOT to develop a program to make commercial vehicle delivery work more smoothly. LADOT would examine areas where commercial delivery vehicles get the most tickets, and build on successful models in other cities.
  6. Fund Local Parking Improvements
    All of these motions are good for livability, but this one is the Shoupista gem that could turn around Los Angeles parking. Today, parking meter payments disappear into the black hole of the city’s General Fund. Parking expert Don Shoup repeatedly stresses the importance of returning revenue for local improvements, primarily in order to generate the political will for metered parking. Technically, this means a number of shifts within the city, including replacing the existing Special Parking Revenue Fund (SPRF) with what is called an Enterprise Fund.
  7. Use Technology to Reduce Street Sweeping Tickets
    This motion directs city departments to implement the technology needed to notify drivers when they need to move their cars for street sweeping. It also directs city departments to coordinate street sweeping in order to avoid sweeping at peak parking times, including during school drop-off hours.

Read more…

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Eyes On the Street: Cars Parking On Sidewalks

Car on sidewalk on 4th Street near Normandie. Photos by Joe Linton

Car on sidewalk on 4th Street near Normandie Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton

The latest reports show that L.A. County has 18.6 million parking spaces, a whopping 14 percent of developed land. But apparently drivers want even more. It may be just anecdotal in my neighborhood – which is Koreatown near East Hollywood – but it seems like I am seeing more and more cars parking on sidewalks and curbs.

When I am walking, sometimes these are blocking the sidewalk, which is especially irritating when pushing a stroller. I don’t remember ever seeing this five to twenty years ago, but just this year it feels like it’s increasing. I don’t see it every day, but I did notice it a half dozen times before I began taking pictures last month with this article in mind. Parking is not easy here and it is somewhat more scarce on street-cleaning days, but it seems like drivers used to make do with the spaces allotted to them.

Car on the curb on First Street near Vermont Avenue.

Car on the curb on First Street near Vermont Avenue.

Are other Angelenos seeing this? What neighborhoods? Can we come up with some kind of shaming process? Maybe just a hashtag?

What should we do to keep it from proliferating? Read more…