Residents got a glimpse Thursday night at what the proposed City Hall automated garage may look like.
About 30 people were on hand for an official presentation by the project's steering committee, followed by a public comment section and Q&A. The audience was generally impressed by the PowerPoint presentation, several saying they were skeptical when they came in but swayed after hearing the details.
The structure, which the City Council voted unanimously to build at its , will offer a valet-like experience where people leave their cars and the automated system stores the vehicles in parking berths using motorized lifts, conveyers and shuttles.
The garage will incorporate state-of-the-art computerized technology from Unitronics, an Israeli firm specializing in automated parking structures, with space for 200 cars, up from the 68 that are currently available in the City Hall surface parking lot.
City Hall employees currently use the 166-space Kings Road parking deck two blocks away. Officials say that garage is usually at capacity by 11 a.m. on weekdays, forcing staff to use valets and stack the parking.
Public Works Director Oscar Delgado told Weho Patch that on weekdays, 120 of the 200 spaces in the automated structure will be reserved for city employees, with the other 80 for visitors to City Hall and nearby stores and restaurants. Parking will be free for people having business in City Hall.
On nights and weekends, the city says people could use the new structure for going to area shops at a minimal charge. An attendant will be on hand 24 hours a day to handle any problems that arise.
The structure will have five levels of parking, but will only be about 35 feet tall, the same height as City Hall. Since humans do not have to walk within the structure, the levels only have to be tall enough to accommodate vehicles.
It is designed to process 125 cars exiting the structure per hour, or approximately two per minute. Officials say the maximum wait time to retrieve a car should be about five minutes. To avoid delays in case something breaks down, the structure is designed with back-up systems to cover any failing system.
There will also be a back-up generator, although officials do not expect to have to use it since there will be solar panels on the roof. Those panels will be able to power the structure, plus part of City Hall.
The garage's centerpiece is a glass shaft that allows people standing outside the structure to see the cars being moved. Audience members speculated that it could become a tourist attraction as people will be fascinated to see the cars being shuttled about.
The side of the structure facing Sweetzer Avenue will feature public art by Ned Kahn, who is known for creating works that incorporate the use of natural elements such as wind and light.
The city plans to create a 27-foot wide community plaza between the back door of City Hall and the parking structure. That green space could be used for art displays, receptions and other community events.
Construction is expected to begin in spring 2013, and be completed by summer 2014. The total cost will be $16 million, which will be paid for out of the city’s parking improvement fund. $2.6 million of that cost will go toward buying the smart technology from Unitronics, which has West Coast headquarters in Los Angeles.
Council will vote at its May 21 meeting on designs for the structure after a presentation by city staff.
City Hall has created a web page with answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the automated structure.