Last month, I gave a parking management presentation to a community group in Silver Lake, a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles. They told me they had the worst parking problems in the city. If I had a penny for every time a community group told me that their parking problems are the worst ever, I would be wealthy.
Silver Lake’s parking conditions are typical of many revitalizing urban communities – more residents, buildings converted to higher intensity uses, older buildings with no off-street parking, more economic activity, and no vacant land for surface parking. In short, Silver Lake is the type of hip neighborhood that everybody wants. To check the community’s claims, my students conducted parking occupancy studies. They found that indeed, on-street parking occupancies were high.
Silver Lake locals yearn for the old days of easier parking, but that would require reversing the economic vitality of the neighborhood and chasing residents out. There is no magic solution to parking, but existing parking resources can be more effectively managed to serve the community. Silver Lake already has LA Express Park variable meter pricing on Sunset Boulevard, the main commercial street. Many neighborhoods have residential permit programs with short-term commercial parking allowed during the day. So what else can be done? Here are some examples:
- Negotiate time-specific shared parking arrangements with private off-street parking facilities, such as those controlled by schools and businesses.
- Expand metered parking pricing to residential streets adjacent to commercial areas.
- Expand the metered rates to a 24/7 basis.
- Develop a shared valet parking program.
- Return parking revenues to the community for neighborhood access improvements, including parking.
- Charge a market clearing price for residential permits to discourage excess vehicle ownership and encourage the use of off-street residential garages for parking (this would require a change in California law, which restricts the permit price to the administrative cost).
There is no way to return parking to how it was in the old days, when it was free and easily available. By managing parking in a way that is comprehensive (considering all parking resources) and coordinated, parking will be less chaotic, business activity can grow, and the community can prosper.