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L.A. officials move to reduce parking requirements in parts of the city

August 14, 2012 |  1:23 pm

 Valets park cars outside restaurants and clubs on Vermont Avenue in Koreatown.

Looking to spur the economy and new construction, the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday for an ordinance that would allow the council to weaken parking requirements in certain areas of the city.

On an 11 to 1 vote, the council passed an ordinance that permits the creation of new parking zones where developers, landlords and business owners can seek to reduce the number of parking spaces required for their businesses or new construction projects.

The new parking districts could allow fewer parking spaces to be required near transit stops, such as Metro Red Line subway stations. They also would give developers of new apartments and condominiums the opportunity to satisfy their parking requirements by providing spaces that are up to 1,500 feet away from the building.

The measure was spearheaded by Councilmen Jose Huizar and Ed Reyes, who represent century-old neighborhoods where buildings were frequently constructed without the car in mind. Reyes has argued that more flexible parking rules would help Los Angeles “invite investment instead of scaring it away.”

“We need to be a business-friendly city,” said Reyes, whose district includes Chinatown, Lincoln Heights and Westlake.

Under one scenario, a bookstore could be replaced by a restaurant -- a business with a much larger number of customers -- without having to provide additional parking spaces.

The lone opposition came from Councilman Paul Koretz, who said he fears that new parking districts would be “too flexible.” Because he voted no, a second vote to finalizing the ordinance will be required next week.

Supporters of the ordinance have argued that it will also make L.A. a more walkable, transit-oriented city that allows developers to tap unused parking lots for their projects. Backers include the Central City Assn., a downtown-based business group that advocates for new development, and Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic, a nonprofit group which argued that less stringent citywide parking rules should be “the new normal in Los Angeles.”

Critics took a different view, warning that new parking districts will simply cause frustrated drivers to leave their cars in residential neighborhoods.

“If you've got a street like Ventura Boulevard in the Valley and some portion of that becomes a [special parking] district, then you could easily have 10 or 15 of the small shops turn into restaurants and end up with maybe 100 cars for which there is no designated parking space,” said David Garfinkle, president of the Tarzana Property Owners Assn. “That is just an enormous impact on the neighborhood.”

City Planner Thomas Rothmann said any new parking district would require votes from the Planning Commission and the City Council before it could go into effect. He said that the council could also choose to increase parking requirements in a particular neighborhood if it wanted.


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Photo: Valets park cars outside restaurants and clubs on Vermont Avenue in Koreatown. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times