Ending the Runaround

Here’s a little something for Josef Bray-Ali to take with him to the city council when (wth your help) he takes over the District 1 seat currently occupied by Dr. Donothing, ie Gil Cedillo. It doesn’t address bicycling directly, but it would benefit active transport since it would minimize traffic on local streets in many high-density neighborhoods by eliminating most drivers’ perceived necessity to cruise the ‘hood in frantic search for a parking spot. It would also reduce resistance to road diets and other street rationalizations that might call for the “sacrifice of a few (tax-subsidized) curbside parking spots.

I developed this with my own Miracle Mile neighborhood in mind, and hope to shepherd it through our community council, on whose board I sit. However, it would work in most of the more populated neighborhoods of the city, which generally include extensive commercial areas, and would include Chinatown, Pico-Union, Downtown, and parts of Lincoln Heights in District 1.

Shared Parking Plan

Lack of parking is one of the major complaints I hear from residents in my neighborhood, ans fear of lack of parking is one of the reasons most frequently given for opposing higher-density development, even in TOD areas.

Yet most commercial areas actually have abundant parking, as has been shown in survey after survey. The problem is, most of it is hoarded by its private owners. So parking lots and parking structures remain half-empty all day, and almost entirely empty all night, while residents living a block or tow away, or even right next door, cruise needlessly round and round looking for an unencumbered street parking space.

This piles up vehicle miles traveled of the worst sort, for they serve no purpose at all, and it stokes resistance to healthy development.

Many other cities have begun to experiment with “shared parking,” wherein owners of private parking spaces offer excess capacity to the public for a fee. There is at least one building in our neighborhood that already does this, and before the lot behind the a nearby office tower was developed, the back two rows were rented to residents.

I suggest that our council develop a proposal asking that a formal protocol be developed to promote shared parking in high-density districts such as ours. The essential elements would be this:

1) A formal inventory of all off-street parking in a proposed shared parking district.

2) A city-maintained clearinghouse for parking data, matching verified residents with available parking.

3) Guidelines for fees to be charged, so that parking operators (who are often not the building owners) would be assured of making a reasonable profit that they would share with parking owners, so that everyone have a stake in the process.

4) A city-backed liability insurance plan protecting parking owners from claims brought by parking customers.

5) Persuasive materials detailing benefits of parking and building owners of the plan, such as:

a) Increased income to building owners and parking operators
b) Guaranteed customer flow twice a day, supporting retail tenants
c) Increased security from added neighborhood foot traffic in parking structures, and from watchful eyes of residential parking customers in buildings adjacent to lots they are likely to use

This is an incremental step towards a more sustainable neighborhood, increasing physical and social safety, reducing the need to cruise for a parking spot, and boosting business income in the area.

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