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L.A. begins parking crackdown in UCLA, Westwood Village area

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After years of warnings, debate and delays, Los Angeles officials this week began ticketing cars that are “apron" parked on the streets of Westwood, a move critics say will create a parking crisis around the UCLA campus.

Westwood residents –- many of them UCLA students –- have for decades packed their cars into driveways in a way that blocks sidewalks and sticks out into the street. They argue that the illegal practice is the only way to deal with a critical lack of parking near the campus and in the Westwood Village entertainment area.

But in the last few years, apron parking has been attacked by a growing and eclectic group of critics –- including former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and a UCLA professor who is a leading authority on parking. They say blocking the sidewalks forces pedestrians to make needless detours and violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The city decided to act after being sued by plaintiffs claiming that apron parking violated ADA rules. The city attorney’s office recently advised the Los Angeles Department of Transportation that it had to begin enforcing the parking laws.

City officials hope the change will influence how residents get around.

“People will have to rethink, ‘Do I really need a car?’ " said Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesman Bruce Gillman, noting that residents can opt for car pools or public transit.

Ticketing was originally set to start last month. But City Councilman Paul Koretz, whose district includes Westwood, wanted to give students more time to prepare and to avoid chaos as UCLA prepared for finals week and graduation exercises.

Residents who live in the apartments around UCLA are outraged over the ticketing, noting that some landlords guarantee them the apron spot in their leases. Some landlords charge tenants extra for the spots even though they are illegal.

The need for extra parking is clear: There are about 850 legal curb spaces in UCLA’s North Village but about 5,700 vehicles belonging to residents. “There are too many people,” Kevin Farzad, a UCLA student, said. “It’s the college slums.”

Farzad and his six roommates share a four-bedroom apartment directly west of UCLA and have had to adapt to a tricky parking situation. Roommates leave spare car keys in a communal area in case cars need to be moved to let a roommate out.

-- Ricardo Lopez

Photo: Students walking to class at UCLA. Credit: Genaro Molina / L.A. Times

 
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