The city's plan to lease out parking garages in Hollywood and Westwood may sound like a benign enough way to close a small part of the budget gap. Urbanists and transit advocates like higher parking rates on principle. But in the real world where Angelenos live and drive, the city's sell-off of the garages would mean today's $4 parking at the Arclight ($2 with movie validation) would rise to over $10. The $3 rates at Hollywood & Highland would be allowed to go to just under $10 in the first five years. In Westwood Village, where short-term parking is free in the area's lone city lot, the rate would be allowed to reach $5. Businesses in both areas are putting plans on hold in anticipation of customers shifting to districts with better parking, says the L.A. Business Journal.
For the following 45 years, the parking rates would be indexed to inflation. What’s more, the city would be barred from building parking structures within one-eighth of a mile of these garages for that period.
Besides Hollywood and Westwood, parking garages in Sherman Oaks, Studio City and elsewhere are slated to be leased, but the projected price increases for those garages are not as great because demand in those areas isn’t as high.
The proposal was scheduled for consideration before the City Council last month and was initially set for adoption before the holiday recess. But city administrators delayed the matter after a contentious public hearing and it’s now set to return to the council this month, perhaps this week.
Merchants in Westwood Village fought for 15 years to get a city-owned lot built that would have free parking for at least two hours. They had watched many of their customers desert their stores for free parking at other Westside shopping destinations, including Westside Pavilion, Century City and Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.
In 1997, the city opened the parking garage on Broxton Avenue. Business at nearby stores, including Sara Leonard Fine Jewelers, immediately ticked up.
You know what would also be nice? A time limit on the wait to get out of a parking garage. If a queue is longer than five minutes, the gates should be opened to empty the place out. A little profit incentive to improve service.
Previously on LA Observed:
Alarm in Westwood Village about city parking garages
L.A. Business Journal photo: Ringo Chiu