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Employee Parking in Neighborhoods Inches Forward

By Susan Reines
Staff Writer

November 11 -- A proposal to allow employee parking in residential zones -- which is popular with businesses and opposed by residents -- - inched closer to fruition Tuesday, as the City Council unanimously agreed to consider the controversial plan.

Tuesday's vote does not set anything in stone; the council is committed only to revisiting the issue this winter to decide how many, if any, employees might be allowed to park on streets currently reserved for neighborhood residents.

Even staunch supporters of preferential parking for residents have been swayed by businesses' pleas for parking.

"I see the issue of experimenting with possibly issuing some business permits in residential zones as a good one," Council member Ken Genser said. "I've been a very, very strong supporter of preferential parking consistently, and I still hold to that. However, I still recognize that somehow we have to try to find solutions for businesses."

Since the 1970s, residents have been able to apply for preferential zones if they believe non-resident cars are regularly interfering with their parking. Forty-four zones, each stretching across large sections of the city, have popped up. Businesses have responded with complaints that their employees can no longer find parking.

The council indicated that it might allow, at least on a trial basis, some employee parking in preferential zones along Wilshire, Santa Monica, Pico and Ocean Park boulevards, as well as Montana Avenue.

The council also approved in concept a proposal to allow underground or above-ground parking on lots currently zoned for housing along some of the city's major east-west arteries.

Other parking solutions may include limiting parking times on curbs outside businesses, creating angled parking on residential streets and repainting parking spaces and red curb zones to squeeze more cars onto streets.

"When I see spaces that are a car and a half long, I think that's wasted space," Genser said. "So even if there are some budget expenses, we could pick up a space that would cost $10,000 to construct in a structure."

The council members also voted to work with Santa Monica College to determine whether the community college's Madison Campus, located at 11th Street & Arizona Avenue, might be used partially for public parking.

City staff will research the measures approved in concept Tuesday. The measures may ultimately be wrapped into the two-year overhaul of the City's general plan for parking and traffic that is just beginning.

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