Phantom Parking Spaces


Phantom Parking Spaces

The city of Los Angeles requires that if a restaurant wants to open or expand it must have a certain number of available spaces. It can have them "on site" or can "lease" spaces from nearby businesses. So far so good.

There is a trendy area near one of the most popular venues in the city. Its located on Third Street near "The Grove" and Farmer’s Market.  There are dozens of great little restaurants and one of a kind shops. Its is prospering due to the proximity to the larger attractions. Land values have skyrocketed, both residential and commercial.

What has been happening, is due to the city’s parking requirements to get permits, local businesses and valet companies have supposedly been acquiring leases for the same parking spaces . These are the Phantom spaces that is beginning to concern the city and raising the ire of local residents who love the fact that they have been made rich by the increase in the property values, but can’t stand the congestion. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE, they say.

Of course the valet companies are doing whatever they can.  They use on street spaces (and pay the meters), they have radios to alert their colleagues when a space becomes available, they "reverse" down streets and alleyways to reach open spots. All this frenetic activity is what makes the area popular. It has to stop.

The article in the LA times details the issue and quotes both residents (ready the torches and pitchforks), consultants (who are afraid to take a stand) and merchants (we have to expand to survive). Of course they also quote Don Shoup. However, as in most cases, they miss Don’s point, quoting only that which makes the story more interesting, and not the part that gives a solution.

The article quotes Don but if you read the quotes, and don’t know the entire story, they don’t make sense. However, I will expand on the tidbit from the Shoupista Handbook that the Times used in its article.

First — there is probably a lot of parking available within walking distance of the restaurants on Third street. I will prove this by going down there today and taking a quick survey. However assuming I’m right ( and I usually am ), the problem is how to make it available to the people who visit. Don’s solution is to increase the price of parking on street. Also, charge for parking on street in residential areas. You can give permits to the residents, but let the rest park there and pay.

AH HA, you say, the residents won’t like that, it will add to the congestion.  I"m not finished, I say.

Charge for parking, but give the money back to the residents, the property owners. Give them a "credit" on their property taxes based on the front footage they own. If the city generates $20 per foot per year, and you have $40 feet, give them an $800 credit on their property taxes. My guess is that the complaints will go away immediately, and the property owners will be out there with flashlights and flags waving people down and directing them to their streets where they can park.

Or take the money and add some more police patrols in the area, or new trees, parks, street lights, and the like.

You must do both — charge high rates for parking AND give the money back to the neighborhood. If you don’t, the locals will oppose you and rightly so.

Higher rates will have another effect — it will force the folks who come to think about parking before they come. They will either be prepared to pay the extra amount, or perhaps car pool (great idea), or take public transportation. Locals will walk rather than drive. All will be right with the world.

The local merchants have already begun to consider an on street valet program (like south Pasadena) to help alleviate the issue, and guess what — if they also installed a shuttle service to bring people in from available parking (Like the CBS lot not two blocks away) or other areas) much of their problem will be eliminated. And I’m certain if they put their creative heads together, the problem can be solved.

The city can do its part by raising on street prices, a lot, and then returning the money back to the neighborhoods from whence it came. 


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE ! I agree with this credo wholeheartedly. Parking technology apparently been left behind by the progress of the number of the car. Yes (again), SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE!

  2. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE ! I agree with this credo wholeheartedly. Parking technology apparently been left behind by the progress of the number of the car. Yes (again), SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE!

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