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Mitch O'Farrell

L.A. City Council Takes Step To End Destructive Parkway Parking

Sidewalk parking in Koreatown. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last week the full Los Angeles City Council passed Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell's motion 17-460 which will end the practice of letting cars park on city parkways - the space between the sidewalk and the curb. In recent years, parkway parking has become prevalent in many L.A. communities, including Koreatown, where private bollards proliferate to block cars off parkways.

In a statement to Streetsblog, O'Farrell clarified his views on parkway parking:

The longstanding parkway parking policy has created visual blight in our neighborhoods. Trees, plants, and landscaping have been destroyed, impacting the quality of life in our communities. Vehicles do not belong on our parkways. The practice to relax enforcement also runs counter to our goals for improved pedestrian accessibility, and has damaged public rights of way that the city spends millions to maintain. I am looking forward to reinstating enforcement as soon as possible.

Los Angeles Walks Executive Director Deborah Murphy also takes a hard line on parkways, emphasizing that:

[W]hether it is grass/landscaping or concrete, that [parkway/sidewalk] area belongs to pedestrians, not to cars. Drivers already have 70 to 90 percent of the street space on the road. Please let pedestrians have their measly 10 to 30 percent of the street for walking, rolling, and strolling without tons of steel in our path. We already have to do that every time we cross the street.

Murphy also makes the point that the city's weight-bearing standards for sidewalks are less stringent than for driveways and parking lots. Areas intended for automobile traffic are required to be able to support greater weights than sidewalks do. Driving cars on them can crack and destroy sidewalks, making them dangerous and inaccessible for walking and for wheelchair users.

Parkway parking in Koreatown. Note the tire tracks on the sidewalk and the rutted parkway. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Parkway parking in Koreatown. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

As with many city and legal processes, though, ending parkway parking is going to take a while.

The O'Farrell motion requests that "the City Attorney prepare and present an ordinance that amends the Los Angeles Municipal Code to make it illegal to park any vehicle in the area of the road right-of-way between the sidewalk and the curb that is reserved for trees, landscaping, utilities, and not intended for vehicles." The next step will be for the City Attorney's office to write the new law, which will need to go to the city council for approval. According to LADOT Parking Enforcement Chief Greg Savelli, speaking at last week's L.A. Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting, the new ordinance has been drafted, and will prohibit cars from parking any place where a car would not normally travel.

It appears that the city will also need to approve the City Attorney's newly clarified definition for parkways from its motion 11-1676. That motion was introduced by then-Councilmember Bill Rosendahl in 2011. In 2016, the City Attorney submitted new parkway definition language that has yet to be approved.

Savelli also stated that, for the initial thirty days after the new language is approved by council, LADOT will issue only warnings and no citations for parkway parking.

Savelli clarified that currently it is illegal for cars to be parked in ways that block or impede any part of a sidewalk. This pertains to parkways, aprons, and driveways.

Diagram of apron parking. Image via
Diagram of apron parking in Los Angeles. Image via CD11
Diagram of apron parking. Image via

If pedestrians encounter cars impeding sidewalks, they can report the car to LADOT Parking Enforcement by calling (818) 374-4823. Savelli did state that LADOT has an operational policy of "tie goes to the runner," wherein LADOT officers will allow owners to move illegally parked cars before a ticket is issued.

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