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Alan Lowenthal

State Senate Passes Parking Reform Legislation. Times Readers Flip Out.

2_1_10_wal_mart.jpgSB 518 would allow fewer parking lots such as this to sprout up in California. Photo: Brave New Films/Flickr

Last week, the California State Senate passed S.B. 518,
by Long Beach Democrat Alan Lowenthal, that would limit the amount of
free parking that new developments could offer by incentivizing smart
growth strategies in local planning ordinances and requiring that
developers itemize the cost of each parking space.  The legislation
will be referred to the Assembly, where it will go through at least one
committee before qualifying for a floor vote.  At the time of
publication, the bill had not been assigned to an Assembly committee.

As we've come to expect, when a well-reasoned piece of legislation moves forward that dares challenge the Car Culture status quo, the reaction is hysteria.  The
legislation passed the Senate Appropriations Committee by a nearly
party-line 7-5 vote with a similar result, 21-12 in the Senate. 
Suburban newspapers are already taking aim at the legislation in their editorial pages, and when the Los Angeles Times covered the bill's passage,
the first two paragraphs of the article sounded extremely skeptical of
the legislation's basic premise: that free parking is a problem for
urban planners to overcome, not something that should be worked for.

Yesterday, the Times re-posted the story in its LA Now blog, emphasizing some of the crazier comments from the entitled Car Culture Warriors.  Lowenthal's legislation is one of the most progressive pieces of parking reform legislation in the country, and instead of celebrating this accomplishment, our entitled car-driving friends and neighbors lose their minds.  Here's a sampling of some of the comments the Times chose to highlight:

We need to vote these job killers out of office -- starting from thetop! CA has the highest taxes on earth and they want (STEAL!!) more andmore from the citizens.

and

This guy probably came out of a meeting specifically called to think ofnew ideas for non-tax, revenue generating schemes that can be put inplace without voter feedback. As usual, the big picture is not takeninto account.

and, my personal favorite,

Over the past 3 years living in downtown LA I've paid over $1,000 intickets towing and meter fees. This state is starting to feelunconstitutional.

So, what does Lowenthal's legislation actually do?  As Los Angeles Streetsblog first noted back in March,
the
legislation requires that all municipalities in California enact
policies that would gain "points".  Each community must earn 20
points by January 1, 2012.  The March article, breaks down the
different ways that a municipality can earn points.  For example, any municipality that establishes or already has an ordinance that
"Establish commercial parking maximums of 2 or fewer spaces per 1,000
sq. feet citywide or within the unincorporated county" earns ten
points.  Municipalities that don't meet the "20 point" requirement won't be able to apply for certain state development or transit grants and could face sanctions from the local Air Resources Board.

Locally, such a change in parking ordinances could have some big impacts.  The concept of Transit Oriented Development in Los Angeles is stunted by parking requirements that force the few developers interested in reduced parking to have over one parking space per residential unit.  However, neither the City of Los Angeles or Metro have taken a position on the proposed law.

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