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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yay! Everyone's Favorite ROLA Topic: Parking in WeHo!

Typical? An electrical sign flashes a warning about construction, while taking up a precious parking stall in West Hollywood one recent weekend. At the same time, there was ample space near a driveway a few feet away that was neither parking, nor firelane. Wah-wah.

Republic of L.A. has waited two weeks for the City of West Hollywood to respond to our questions about the elimination of a few dozen parking spaces in an alley off of Melrose Avenue, and more than 100 others inside of West Hollywood park for construction and "safety reasons," and their replacement with $10 valet-only spots. The old spots were free between 6-10 p.m.
Well, it turns out that Jake Stevens has gone to Washington for a new job. We wish him well.

Stevens was deputy for Councilmember Jeffrey Prang. He had been getting answers about the parking problems at West Hollywood park--an area that served as the only parking solution for many restaurant, bar, coffee house and 12-step meeting goers in the heart of the nation's most creative city--for Republic of L.A. since the issue first arised.
His replacement, Mike Haibach is now looking into the issue. But, instead of making you wait any longer for the information Republic of L.A. has been promising to bring you, we've decided to keep you in the loop as we investigate. That said; here is the text of an email we sent to Haibach today. We'll let you know what the response is as soon as it comes:

Hi Mike,

It was nice speaking to you this afternoon. BTW, do you have contact information for Jake Stevens? I'd like to congratulate him on his new job.

Below are emails between Jake and I. As you can see, Jake addressed the concerns about lost parking and the dubious manner in which the changes had been executed, even offering to review the citations that may have been erroneously issued during the transition. However, he did not mention--and regrettably, I did not ask about costs--that the free (between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.) spaces had been replaced by $10 valet-only spots.

That's a big deal. I have interviewed people for an upcoming piece who have given up on going to their A.A., Crystal Meth Anonymous and other 12-step meetings because they were so frustrated by the lack of parking that has resulted from the recent changes. Of course the truly dedicated recovering alcoholics and addicts are going to get to some meeting, somewhere, some how. But, it's probably the ones for whom just being able find or not find parking may be the difference between relapsing and not relapsing.

Additionally, I have spoken to one business owner who said business dropped by about 10 percent as soon as as the new parking regime was initiated; and it's stayed down. I have spoken to patrons of restaurants, coffee houses and bars who are also upset by the elimination of spaces they had relied upon for years. Here is a quote:

"I know ten bucks is nothing for people coming over from next door in Beverly HIlls, but there are a lot of people who live right here in WeHo, who are out of work like my boyfriend, and maybe me next week. We live east of Fairfax, and so we drive to go out for dinner at our Bossa Nova on Friday nights. It's where we met five years ago. I can't take him out for dinner and drinks and then pay ten dollars for parking. I just can't afford it."

Tim Cahill, patron at Bossa Nova on Robertson Friday, July 3 2009.

Mike, I would like to know what the city council's response is to this situation. If it's simply been an oversight and work will be done to find a solution, I'd like a timeline of how the issue will be addressed. Or, if it's going to be more complicated than than, I'd like to interview your boss. I've interviewed Jeff before, and I know the councilmember's heart is always in the right place, so I'm eager to receive a response.



1 comment:

sylvia said...

The parking situation in L.A. is absolutely outrageous!!! Every time I turn around they strategically eliminate more parking spaces and raise the fine for parking violations. Now they're charging $55.00 for a meter violation!!!! It is excessive and waaay beyond suitable "punishment" for a minor infraction... I guess the City doesn't consider it punishment at all... it is a huge source REVENUE!!! It seems to me this is taxation without representation and it is fundamentally WRONG!!! What can be done about this???