Council Takes Another Step Toward Automated Garage

Construction plans are in the works for a $16 million parking structure at Weho City Hall.

The West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously Monday to move closer to realizing its vision for a fully automated parking structure at City Hall.

The 200-space facility will cost $16 million, according to a staff report. The preliminary design calls for a five-story building that rises to a height of nearly 50 feet and occupies 11,000 of the building site's 25,000 square feet. The project also includes a 4,000 square-foot public plaza.

Automated garages use state-of-the-art computer technology to store vehicles in parking berths via motorized lifts, conveyers and shuttles, according to the website of Unitronics, an Israeli company the city has hired to provide and install the project's robotic elements.

"The building structure will be concrete with decorative finish materials to be determined in the next phase of design," the report states. "A portion of the east facade will be glass to allow for viewing of the internal operation of the automated system. The glass wall will incorporate art by Ned Kahn."

Council members called the project innovative and cost effective over the long term despite the parking structure's multimillion-dollar price tag.

"Parking in a structure like the one that's proposed at City Hall is so much more efficient," Councilman John Heilman said. "It really is the wave of the future, which is going to be in the long run much more cost effective."

A number of residents and local business people said the parking facility is a welcomed addition to West Hollywood, especially in the city's the central section where parking is always in short supply.

"It is by far the best solution for urban planning and use of space," said Chris Bonbright, who noted that automated parking structures accommodate the same large number of vehicles as a sprawling parking lot "dead zone."

Stephanie Harker criticized the $16 million price tag, the majority of which will be paid for by municipal debt.

"Because of our triple-A bond rating we're able to get very low interest rates and then service that debt from the revenues we receive from the parking," Councilman John Duran said. "The resources of the parking structure are going to pay back the debt service on the bond."

Harker also opposed the project's current scope.

"The community service portions of the original project are gone," she said. "The community service center and parking became automated parking garage and community plaza."

Mayor Jeffrey Prang explained the intention was to have a "community service center" consisting of city staff offices, not community rooms for public meetings and events.

In the next phase of the project's design process the city's architect, LPA Inc., and construction consultants will create detailed plans that must be approved by the Building and Safety Division and county agencies such as the Fire Department and Flood Control District.

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me December 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM
EPIC FAIL....lets ban together and get these council people out of office....they are ruining our city and wasting money on big toys....hold them responsible for these issues people!!!!
Todd Bianco December 18, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Although I think the idea of a robo-garage is interesting and innovative, particularly in Los Angeles, land of flat parking lots, I don't think the City needs to waste $16 million plus on this structure. Were there any alternatives considered like simply putting a well-designed and attractively-screened concrete decks (3-4 levels) above the existing parking lot? Given the conventional nature of such a structure, it should be much cheaper than the expensive tech involved with a robo-garage. In addition, the City could hold special events on various levels or the top deck. Parking meter machines like those used in the Library structure could cost much less than the robot ticket-takers. You wouldn't need to have an attendant either. The spaces could be free during the daytime, while City Hall is open and then pay after that. Or they could use the validation system like the Library structure when meeting are held there. Seems there would lots less potential for mechanical glitches, hardware & software failures inherent in the robo-garage scenario.
Rudolf Martin December 18, 2012 at 04:56 PM
"cost effective in the long run"? i would like to hear the math on that. question (also to joe taglieri): has anyone seen the city's official estimate for monthly costs of operation, insurance and maintenance?
Rudolf Martin December 18, 2012 at 05:06 PM
and i don't suppose the $16 million price tag includes the millions already spent on this?
Riley December 18, 2012 at 05:28 PM
There are currently 66 parking spaces. So, they are NOT getting 200 new spaces for $16 MILLION. They are getting 134 spaces for $16 million. And then there is up keep etc. As Rudolf has pointed out. Where will YOUR car be when the computers go down and are off-line for 24 hours?
Profes Shivers December 18, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Yes, now even D'Amico has joined the ranks of idiots we must get rid of. He had been the lone hope this city had of sanity.
Profes Shivers December 18, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Trust me, not a one of these people will be commenting when, not IF, the electricity goes out. And not one will park here--they'll use Kings Road. They want their cars safe while still lining their pockets with developer cash.
George December 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The Lauren Meister firing definitely had me wonder about D'Amico. Then his continued support for the porn dancers on Santa Monica Blvd bugged me. The gay bars can do whatever they want in the confines of the establishment but people innocently driving by are unwittingly being subjected to dancers doing pornographic dancing.
George Martin December 18, 2012 at 09:32 PM
"Parking in a structure like the one that's proposed at City Hall is so much more efficient," Councilman John Heilman said. "It really is the wave of the future, which is going to be in the long run much more cost effective." Motorized lifts, conveyers and shuttles? Those are "cost-effective?" More "cost-effective" than what? More cost-effective than extremely well-paid city staff having to walk two blocks to work from the Kings Road Structure? More "cost-effective" than standard parking structures with concrete ramps that just sit there, need no electricity, debugging, etc.? They just work. Boondoggle. At least if I want a silly toy I pay for it myself. I wonder whose name is going to go on the inevitable plaque.
scott ferguson December 18, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I talked to D'Amico a couple months about this and other matters. He clearly isn't a go-along guy with all the other members based on some comments he made. But he was pretty clear that this was a very smart, viable idea. He also said any talk about the city having any financial risk with this or overall was nonsense - we are in great shape, there is nothing to worry about. Somehow, with his position as an outsider and not a member of any council clique, that constitutes a pretty strong endorsement for the project. I had my doubts, but he convinced me.
me December 19, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Con men are great at snow jobs....it'll take decades for this toy to pay for itself...all the while other parts of the city lack public parking....why aren't they discussing that issue at the same time???
WeHo Resident December 19, 2012 at 04:47 PM
The real problem is that we have people without any urban planning, master planning or architectural acumen making these decisions - starting with the Design Review Subcommittee all the way up to the City Council. If you have ever attended any of their respective meetings, they are all complete fiascos. I have seen everything from indifference to down-right disrespect/insulitng of public attendees, who just happend to be the constituents of these clowns; but never an intelligent, informed and meaningful dialogue take place. Nine times out of ten their agendas/actions are a fait accompli, regardless if their agendas are supposed to be fact-finding forums. They have made up their minds far in advance regardless of the immediate and long-term impacts on the immediate area/City itself.
scott ferguson December 19, 2012 at 05:58 PM
And yet - this is a great cirty to live in, property values are rising ahead of the county and state averages, pujblic services remain high. If this is failure, I can't imaginen success would be like. Just an average resident here, reacting to what I experience.
Rudolf Martin December 19, 2012 at 10:07 PM
scott, success would be all of the above and more. asinine and overpriced projects like Plummer Park 'redevelopment' or Robo Parking made on the city's credit card do not mean we're on the verge of default nor that the city is not a great place to live or doesn't have great services. try to judge each issue on its own merits. questions: do you really think $18 million (construction & design) is reasonable for 134 spaces when city hall is planning to move west? do you really think the high cost of operation and maintenance should be kept a secret? my estimate on operational costs not included in the $18 million is another $ 5.2 million for the first 10 years. reasonable? really?
scott ferguson December 20, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Rudolf I did have some concern. But when I talked to D'Amico about my concerns, he said he approached it exactly the same way I did, and came to the decision it's a good investment. We have a representative government. He was elected with the support of people who oppose the current council members. I am not an expert on details. At some level, it isn't unreasonable for me to think that he - and all the other members - think it's a good idea - to not lose sleep over it. Part of this reaction comes because so many of the opponents of the council - not so much you - seem to have a knee-jerk reaction against whatever the council does (which leads a reasonable person to think the opposition is as much or more personality-clash based and personal political frustrations, a la Steve Martin). It's why opponents start these debates with far less credibility than they'd like - it seems they will oppose anythig their "enemies" support (like the horrifying demonization of Betty Butler in the last election, which reached McCarthyite levels).
Rudolf Martin December 20, 2012 at 10:13 PM
i'm not concerned about city politics. my comments and questions were about a specific project which happens to be the subject of this article.
Brian Hamilton December 21, 2012 at 07:22 AM
Thank you, Rudolph. It's apparently difficult for some people to focus on an issue without attempting to distract you with extraneous, irrelevant noise.
Ali December 21, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Oh my goodness Scott. You paint the anti-incumbents like a mob. They are individuals who, mostly, have lived in this city a long time and are sick of the same people being re-elected time after time. The people on the council don't take us into consideration on things, they just do what they want without input, most of the time, from citizens. There are a few women who take a great deal of time researching these projects the council comes up with. They do not have knee-jerk reactions to anything. They present their research to the people here and everybody makes their own decisions. You just go with whatever the Council wants, like a sheep. You have no credibility at all. You say you are not an expert on details. Then don't criticize those who have details. You obviously don't care as much about the future of the city as they do.
Ali December 21, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Oh, and in fairness, I should say, I agree with them most of the time. I listen to the research and findings they have come up with and make my own decision. I have never agreed with you.
Profes Shivers December 23, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Yes Ali (and Rudolph), you are both correct. I have lived here 2 1/2 years and have followed these goings-on with amazement and frustration. Scott is somebody's shill and never fails to either distract or muddy the waters. I've come to realize he should always be ignored. Thanks though for the clarity of your 2 voices.


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