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Council Divided on Preferential Parking in Santa Monica’s Ocean Park  
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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

May 15, 2017 -- Residents living in a section of Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Neighborhood will have an easier time finding parking after the City Council on Tuesday approved a preferential parking application.

But not everybody on the council thought this was a good idea.

The zone includes Fourth Street between Pico and Ocean Park boulevards as well as an area between Third and Fourth streets covering Strand, Pacific and Bay streets. It features some of Santa Monica’s oldest homes and no driveways.

Several residents told the council they were competing for parking with visitors to the Ocean Boulevard and Main Street shops as well as employees of the many local businesses. These people’s vehicles remained on the street sometimes all day.

“It has become increasingly difficult to live here,” said Rich Capparella, a radio personality for the classical music station KUSC whose wife Marcia started a petition for the preferential parking three years ago.

He said many people no longer visited his home because of what he said was an increasing problem of finding parking. Several other residents made the same complaint.

Parking will be limited to residents only from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The rest of the time non-residents can park there for up to two hours.

The vote for the restriction was 5-2, and the council members who supported the petition did not speak about their reasons. Pam O’Connor, who voted in opposition along with Terry O’Day, gave her view.

“We’re just pushing out the problem,” said O’Connor, who added that she expected residents of surrounding streets would soon petition the council for preferential parking.

O’Connor has long been an opponent of preferential parking. At a 2005 council meeting, she called it “privatizing public streets” (“Council Tweaks Plan to Share Preferential Parking,” June 16, 2005).

Nine years later, O’Connor spoke about parking spaces as public resources (“Santa Monica to Update Preferential Parking Program,” August 29, 2014).

“All these parking spaces, they’re in public streets,” she said at the August 2014 meeting. “They’re public parking spaces. They’re nobody’s personal space.”

Although she voted in favor of the petition, Sue Himmelrich also spoke against preferential parking after the council’s decision was finalized Tuesday night.

“Preferential parking is becoming a real burden on us,” Himmelrich said. “We need to think about a different way to handle the parking problems in the city.”


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