Parking Reformer Lowenthal Continues to Get Attacked in the Press. Let’s Help Him Out

As news continues to spread about Senate Bill 518, Senator Alan Lowenthal’s legislation that passed the State Senate last week and would encourage municipalities to curb their addiction to free parking or lose out on state planning and transit grants; the reaction from the press has been almost uniformly bad.  And it’s not just the conservative outlets such as Fox News that are piling on.  As we detailed yesterday, the Times is almost gleefully promoting the most inflammatory comments from their article.  Yesterday, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Lowenthal’s local paper, took an editorial stand against the legislation.

2_3_10_lowenthal.jpgUnder fire for sensible legislation. Photo: AP

I like to think that Streetsblog is more than just a place for the choir to preach to itself, or a place to discuss the court cases and laws regarding cycling.  I think it’s also a place to try and effect some change, so to that end, let’s get out there and take up for Lowenthal’s parking reform legislation.  You can read a summary of what the legislation does here, and read more about the press’ take on it in yesterday’ article on S.B. 518.

After the jump will be a series of links and quotes to help you find the outlets discussing the legislation and the best way to either comment or send a letter to the editor.  Note how many of the articles and opinions complain about the quest to "get rid of free parking."  Of course, nobody is proposing any such thing.

Long Beach Press-Telegram: Less Parking Isn’t Better
How to Comment: You can comment at the end of the article, or send a letter to the editor to

The bill says that excessive parking demands
by local government sometimes stymie development projects, and
employers worsen traffic congestion when they give employees free
parking. Maybe so, but it’s hard to imagine how shifting the
rule-making to Sacramento will make anything better.

The bill already has been approved by the
Democrat-dominated Senate. It is opposed by Republicans, who rightly
take the position that parking decisions should be local decisions.

Long Beach Press-Teletram: Alan Lowenthal Says Bill Doesn’t Ban Free Parking (The article itself isn’t bad, but the comments section is crazed)
How to Comment: You can comment at the end of the article, or send a letter to the editor to

State Sen. Alan Lowenthal said Monday that a
bill he wrote to encourage cities, counties and businesses to reduce
parking, traffic congestion and greenhouse gases has been taken out of

Talk radio hosts, bloggers and editorial pages took aim at
the Long Beach Democrat, arguing that his Senate Bill 518 seeks to ban
free parking in California.

Not true, the senator said.

Los Angeles Times: State Lawmakers Take Aim at Free Parking
How to Comment: You can comment at the end of the article, or send a letter to the editor at this link

Reporting from Sacramento –

State lawmakers are taking aim at what some of them see as a menace to California’s environment: free parking.

Los Angeles Times: Letters to the Editor (Will refresh tomorrow):
How to Comment: Send a letter to the editor at this link

Congratulations, state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), you are the
new poster child for our remarkably dysfunctional Legislature.

are you wasting your time and the taxpayers’ money worrying about local
parking lots instead of fixing the problems of the state government and
the Legislature, which is your job?

LA Now: Free Parking?  Not if One California Lawmaker Gets His Way
How to Comment: You can comment at the end of the article, or send a letter to the editor at this link

stopthem wrote:
Lowenthal!!! why don’t you do something good for CA residence and stop
worrying about your friends who want to make money of parking. People
of Long Beach when its time to vote again, please put someone in office
who actually cares for people not someone who is just there to serve
their own interests. We are struggling financially and our legislators
don’t care, all they want is more rules, regulations and laws so they
can tell us "you did wrong, now pay up" I really think it is about time
that WE THE PEOPLE of California put a stop to these useless and
tyranic legislators with all the ridiculous ideas and rules.

Fox Taking Aim at Free Parking
How to Comment: You can comment at the end of the article.

But in California, environmentalists say
all that free parking comes at too high a cost- in greenhouse gas
emissions. Environmentalists say if people drove less, there would be
an environmental benefit.

With the support of green groups, the state
senate passed a plan offering cities and counties financial incentives
to slash the number of free parking spaces on the street and in
government-owned lots, and to reduce the number of free spaces
businesses are required to provide.

Town Hall: Californians Lose Their Parking Privileges
How to Comment: Right there at the end of the article

Just when you thought environmental extremists couldn’t go any further,
they surprise you with yet another ploy in their never-ending quest to
turn back modernity. With the public push-back on the cap-and-trade
scheme and creating man-made droughts to save a 2-inch fish,
environmentalists have become craftier in their efforts. Always the
vanguard of the latest environmental regulation, California has a new
idea for getting polluters out of their cars: get rid of free parking.

  • SO.CA.TA plans to discuss the bill at our meeting on Saturday the 13th. If we endorse it we can submit letters to the Assembly Committee that takes it up, which could always be helpful when the Consultants do their analysis.

    You can read the text of the bill and related materials via the online database leginfo, searching SB 518. There is even an option to subscribe to updates to track the bill as it navigates the legislative process, with updates about revisions, hearings, etc. sent via e-mail.

    Good luck to everyone on their letters!

  • Erik G.

    Only in Car-addicted, Oil-reality-challenged Southern California, where the idea of reducing SOV use is stuck in a 1950’s Twilight Zone, due primarily to the lack of innovative public transportation planning, is an idea like Lowenthals being scoffed at.

    L.A. better hope that the rest of the world doesn’t wake up to how incapable we seem to be in accepting the changes to public policy like this one that are occurring around the world. They might stop supporting our economy.

  • Erik G.

    Above I wrote “lack of innovative public transportation planning” when in fact I should have said “lack of coordinated public transportation policy”. All day express-bus services from/to the region’s nodes would be an easy start!

  • Washingtonian

    Greenhouse gasses, are you guys still stuck on that? It’s been proven that CO2 has nothing to do with warming & if you are really concerned you would maintain your forests so they don’t burn. The forest fires you have every year release more CO2 than all human activity in the state for years. You need to build more nuke plants (it would reduce your “carbon footprint”) and not suck out all our power.

    There just aren’t the European densities in SoCal for mass transit (gov or private) to be effective.

  • JW

    “There just aren’t the European densities in SoCal for mass transit (gov or private) to be effective.”

    ….and there never will be with minimum parking requirements.

    That’s, um, kind of the point.

  • Washingtonian

    I don’t think that Europe has high density because it doesn’t have parking. It’s more culture, differences in preception of personal space and could be a measure of the liberty members of the society experience.

    I take it the point is to force high densities? If people want high densities, they would live in New York or Chicago.

  • JW

    Ah, so it’s “the culture” and/or a “love it or leave it response.”

    Both of which fail to recognize that the only constant in humanity is the rise and fall of cultures. How many cities or countries are really the same over 50-100 years?

    If you want to continue the strip mall, cul de sac future you so lovingly embrace, why isn’t it you that’s being asked to move to Las Vegas?

    LA used to be hundreds of small towns, orange farms, vineyards, all that cute stuff. It’s not anymore, and it’s not going back.

  • JW

    By the way, as your comments revolve around refuting the harm green house gases cause (I guess roses flow from the tailpipes of cars idling on the 405), Europe, and mass transit….you haven’t even spent 3 minutes to read what is actually being proposed in this bill.

    Am I correct?

  • I didn’t spend any time reading the bill before posting about it in another thread – guilty as charged. Being as out of it as I am makes for poor discourse. I am sure that Washingtonian is in the same straits.

  • Katie

    I agree with in concepts with the ideas introduced SB 518, but If you take a look at the list of incentives in the bill (and yes, I have read them), you’ll see that they’re primarily aimed at dense, urban communities with significant transit service.

    That’s great, but what about all the rest of California?

    Before I can wholeheartedly support a bill that sets parking policy at a statewide level, I’d like to see more thought given to the types of incentives that work outside of cities. Also, it can’t hurt to bring back the incentives for walkable community design–those seem to have disappeared from the list.

  • Does anybody happen to know what the corresponding bill is in the state assembly? I’d like to call my assemblymember and ask them to support it.

    I love that the very first, and also the simplest option on the list, worth 20 points all by itself, is simply to remove all parking requirements, and let the developers, the drivers (and non-drivers), and the market decide how much parking should be provisioned. I don’t really understand what strong arguments there are against that approach. Developers don’t want to provide as much parking as they have to now. Employers don’t want to provide as much parking as they have to now. Drivers only want as much parking as we’ve got now, because they don’t realize how expensive it is. In rural and unmanageably sprawly areas (like where I grew up… east of Fresno), which are not served by transit, and not walkable/bikeable by design, land prices will be generally lower, and providing parking generally cheaper, and demand for parking generally higher, so they’ll probably still end up with lots of parking. Somewhere like Pasadena (where I live now) will come to a very different equilibrium.

  • I’m a little late to this complaint-fest, but I will be sending this article on why all that parking is not awesome. I don’t live in a city that looks like it was bombed in a war.


Times, ABC7, and Metro Parking Stories Are Wrong and Misleading

Yesterday, the L.A. Times ran Lack of Parking Drives Many Away from Mass Transit, an article by Laura Nelson. The Times starts with the example of a San Fernando Valley Metro Red Line commuter nearly missing grabbing a parking space. This leads to assertions of “parking shortages” on “L.A.’s light-rail system [sic – Red Line is […]