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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…

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18.6 Million Spaces and Still Rising: Study Puts L.A. Parking in Perspective

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Over the last hundred years, L.A. County’s overall total parking spaces have grown to 18.6 million. Chart from the article Parking Infrastructure: A Constraint on or Opportunity for Urban Redevelopment? A Study of Los Angeles County Parking Supply and Growth, Journal of the American Planning Association.

There is a fascinating new L.A. County parking study making the rounds. Metro’s The Source summarizes it stating, “Look around and there’s an awful lot of space devoted to parking and a lot of it is under-used a lot of the time.” Curbed incorporates GIFs showing the inexorable growth of L.A. parking, and leads with the statistic that parking constitutes 14 percent of incorporated L.A. land.

The pay-walled article is Parking Infrastructure: A Constraint on or Opportunity for Urban Redevelopment? A Study of Los Angeles County Parking Supply and Growth. It is by Mikhail Chester, Andrew Fraser, Juan Matute, Carolyn Flower, and Ram Pendyala, published in the Journal of the American Planning Association.

Broadly the article surveys the growth of L.A. parking during the past hundred years, outlining how and why it has grown and what effects this has had. Then the article concludes with a set of recommendations.

The Extent of L.A. County Parking

For L.A. County as of 2010, the authors estimate that there are 18.6 million parking spaces. These break down into 3.6 million on-street, and 15 million off-street, with about a third of the off-street spaces being residential. L.A. parking covers an estimated 200 square miles, about 14% of the incorporated L.A. County land. This area is 1.4 times larger than the 140 square miles devoted to streets and freeways.

There are more than three times the number of parking spaces than there are vehicles. 18.6 million breaks down to 3.3 spaces for each of the 5.6 million vehicles in L.A. County.

From the article:

In the first half of the 20th century, L.A. County minimum parking requirements resulted in more parking being deployed than there were vehicles, but the growth in vehicles since 1960 has outpaced that of parking; by 1975, the number of vehicles in the county was about equal to the number of residential off-street spaces. This ratio has hovered around unity since, signifying that minimum off-street requirements have been a success at keeping vehicles off the road, but have likely contributed to more vehicles and ultimately more VMT [Vehicle Miles Traveled].

There is abundant parking where high-quality transit exists, which is likely to work against transit, walking, and biking. Since 1950, most growth in parking infrastructure has occurred outside of the urban core, largely associated with lower-density residential and commercial development. In 2010, the coverage factor (the ratio of parking area to land area) was 0.16, more than double that of 1950.

Our findings suggest that minimum off-street parking requirements have been a success at encouraging greater automobility and probably a failure at lowering traffic congestion, one of the original objectives of such requirements.

Recommendations for the Future

Since the 1930s, cities have mandated expensive and excessive suburban off-street parking. These requirements are a primary cause of parking proliferation, so the authors recommend municipalities “develop new approaches to parking mandates including adopting maximum parking restrictions, and seek to accommodate new growth through redevelopment at the core rather than new construction at the periphery.”

The authors sound a cautionary note, though, citing limitations on how far reforming (eliminating or reducing) parking requirements will go – “current parking infrastructure may substantially reduce the positive impacts of even major municipal parking reforms.” With 14 percent of L.A. County already relegated to parking, “existing parking infrastructure is likely to work against policy initiatives to curb the use of the car, reduce auto congestion, increase transit usage, and address equity issues, even if minimum parking requirements on development are reduced or reformed.”  Read more…

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Variable-Priced L.A. Express Park Expands to Westwood

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Map of the L.A. Express Park system for Westwood. Image via L.A. Express Park

At a press event yesterday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Councilmember Paul Koretz celebrated the expansion of L.A. Express Park to Westwood.

Westwood has long had a reputation for being a difficult area to park. Express Park should, over time, make finding a parking space there easier. This is good for number of reasons, including reducing traffic congestion exacerbated by drivers “cruising” for a parking space. A study that appears in Donald Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking found that, during peak hours, 68 percent of Westwood drivers were cruising for parking.

For readers unfamiliar with L.A. Express Park, it is a “performance-based parking” pricing program. These programs are also sometimes called “variable-price parking” or “demand-based parking.” The way it 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 less than 70 percent of meters are occupied, hourly rates are made cheaper. On blocks where it is very difficult to find an open space, hourly rates are made more expensive. Meter rates also vary by the time of day and the day of the week.

Express Park was initially implemented in downtown Los Angeles in 2012. The program manages about 6,300 curb parking spaces there. Initial expansions include this week’s roughly 500 spaces in Westwood and about 900 spaces in Hollywood, expected around 2017. The Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee recently directed L.A.’s Transportation Department (LADOT) to look into accelerating Express Park implementation in Hollywood, Venice, the USC area, and eventually to all parking meters citywide.  Read more…

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Funds for San Diego “Park” Go Mostly to Free Parking for County Employees

Nobody’s going to give San Diego County an award for park planning — we hope! — on its “Waterfront Park project,” which is more accurately described as the “subsidized garage project.”

Bike SD

The top photo shows the county administration building pre-park. The bottom photo shows the site of the new $36 million garage built with park funds. Images: Bike SD

Grinning county officials recently cut the ribbon on a $36 million parking garage that will be free for county employees. With 640 spaces, the cost works out to $56,250 per space. The parking garage cost about three times what was spent to build the actual park on the nearby surface lot that the garage replaced, writes John Anderson at Network blog Bike SD

He explains:

The new county parking garage is the second portion of the “Waterfront Park project” that created a 12-acre park across Harbor Drive from San Diego Bay, replacing 8 acres of surface level parking lots adjacent the County Administration Building. That project cost $49.4 million dollars after an initial project cost estimate of $44.2M with $19.7M for building the park, $18.5M for building underground parking, and $6M for design and administration costs.

In total, between the two projects $54.5M was spent on moving parking spaces and $18.5M was spent on the actual park that people enjoy. This is excluding the $5.2M of difference from the original estimate to the actual construction costs and the $6M of design and administration costs. Those cost breakdowns yield a result of 75% of funds used to move spots for empty cars and 25% of funds used to build a park. For purposes of this article let’s assume the admin and cost over-run figures split on the same lines. The vast majority of the funds used for these joint projects was for moving parking spaces, not for building a park.

This project was sold as a project to build a great park – it would seem fitting if most of the funds were actually used to build a great park. Instead we spent 75% of the funds to relocate parking spaces, not creating new spaces but moving existing parking spaces. 251 spaces moved approximately 15 feet, they were undergrounded in the same location as the previous surface level lots.

To make matters worse, a beautiful historic building was demolished — of course — to make way for the subsidized garage with the extra-wide stalls. Little Italy was thriving without it, and the giant monolithic structure will probably just make the neighborhood less attractive, writes Anderson. Well done, San Diego!

Elsewhere on the Network today: You’ll never believe what’s blocking the bike lane in Louisville, via Broken Sidewalk. And Seattle Bike Blog says that voter approval of the “Move Seattle” transportation levy will lead to an “unprecedented effort to end traffic violence.”