West Hollywood's Transportation Commission on Wednesday voted, 4-1, to support city staff’s recommendation to extend the hours for enforcement of parking meters.
Under the city staff recommendation, parking meters on the west side of the city, from La Cienega Boulevard to roughly Doheny Drive, would be enforced from 8 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. On the east side, from La Cienega Boulevard to Fairfax Avenue, meters would be enforced from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
However, between Fairfax and La Brea avenues only the meters on Santa Monica Boulevard would be affected, with the hours of enforcement from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Hours for all other meters between Fairfax and La Brea would not be changed.
In addition, meters on La Brea Avenue south of Santa Monica Boulevard would be enforced from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Meters on La Brea Avenue north of Santa Monica Boulevard would not be affected.
Commissioners Steven Brian Greene, Steve Wayland, Vice-Chair Lindsey Horvath and Chair David Warren voted in favor of the plan. Commissioner Scott Schmidt dissented. Commissioners David M. Eichman and Leon Shparaga were absent.
The issue now goes to the City Council for consideration at one of its December meetings.
About 20 people addressed the commission, most of whom expressed concerns about the impact the changes would have on employee and residential parking.
Darren Gold, chairman of The Avenues Art, Fashion and Design District, said he supported the proposal for the extended hours, but some of his colleagues have derided the idea.
“At first, extending hours to help businesses seemed a bit counterintuitive, but as a business owner who watches people park at 6:01 p.m. and stay until the morning, I see the benefit,” Gold said. “It becomes a visitor parking lot outside our businesses.”
In response to concerns about employee parking, city staff amended the proposal to include the possibility of a special parking permit for people who work at businesses in the affected areas.
The permit would be issued to the local businesses' employees, allowing them to park at underutilized meters after 6 p.m. and to use certain city parking structures all day on Sundays.
Phil Howard, owner of the Laurel Hardware restaurant at 7984 Santa Monica Blvd., said he was in favor of the extended hours because they would improve the parking options for a number of his customers who make short visits.
“People come in for meetings and brief visits for friends,” Howard said. “It’s not worth putting their car in valet. I get a lot of feedback from customers about this.”
Several longtime residents objected to the plan, asking the commission to view the city's parking issues with a broader perspective.
“It’s really important to take a comprehensive look at this issue, from residential parking to employee parking to the transportation of locals.” said resident Sheila Lightfoot. “Trying to deal with one piece instead of looking at the whole situation is shortchanging all of us."
Resident Steve Martin suggested that instead of extending meter hours, city funds now being allocated for projects such as the automated parking garage planned for City Hall should be redistributed to solve the city’s employee and residential parking problems.
“We need to create an affordable program for close-by employee parking,” Martin said. “We’re spending a lot of money for this mechanical parking lot at City Hall.”
One point of debate was how the revenue generated by the extended meter hours would be spent.
City staff at Wednesday's meeting said all revenue from the extended meter hours would be put into additional patrols by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies and private security.
Horvath said financial decisions were not in the hands of the commission, but that Mayor Jeffrey Prang assured her the money would be spent on public safety.
Wayland said the city’s focus should not be on employee parking, but rather easing the parking burden on businesses' customers.
“I’m satisfied with the changes being recommended,” Wayland said. “I do support it. We’ve heard overwhelming concern for employee parking. But I don’t think we can have employee parking drive the policy. The issue is customers.”
Greene said his chief concern was notifying the public of the possible changes in parking meter hours and listening to community feedback.
“All of us are in agreement that we’re concerned with employee parking,” Greene said. “I’m generally in support of it. But we really need to make sure the outreach and publicity is very thorough.”
Schmidt, the commission's lone dissenter, agreed with residents who argued for a more comprehensive approach to the city's parking woes.
“I don’t believe that we’re there yet with this proposal,” Schmidt said.