The problem of finding a place to park a car in an overcrowded neighborhood isn't limited to UCLA students, say residents in the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners Association. Neighbors there have also gotten tickets as part of last month's crackdown on apron parking, the practice of parking cars in the driveway apron or the section between the street and the sidewalk where the curb is lowered to enable cars to drive into a driveway.
"I've been affected by the enforcement along with other homeowners and apartments," said Barbara Broide, president of the association. "It's not an issue exclusive to Westwood UCLA students. "
The city recently began ticketing apron parking violators, particularly in the North Village neighborhood of Westwood.
"It's completely against the law," said Steve Sann, president of the Westwood Community Council.
However, Sann explained, the problem was long tolerated in an area that has become particularly dense as landlords developed apartments with four and five bedrooms to rent to students, who share space to afford the steep rents in the area immediately adjacent to UCLA.
But the problem isn't limited to students, Broide said. Residents of apartments along Beverly Glen Boulevard also face limited parking facilities, especially if the building happens to be an older one.
"It still has many of the old apartment buildings built onto the hill," Broide said about the stretch of Beverly Glen that has been most affected. "They have many garages that open to the sidewalk, and four garages to a driveway, so there's very little street parking. The driveways aren't large enough for the cars, with one space each."
The problem there is that the buildings were built in an era when most families had only one car, rather than two cars as is more common today.
Both Sann and Broide said that the recent crackdown happened because the city was under threat of being sued for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Apron parking sometimes blocks sidewalks, making them impassible for people using wheelchairs. It is not known who made the threats and it appears at this time that no suit has been filed.
"The city attorney says you need to enforce the law as it is," said Edward Norton, field deputy for Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents Westwood.
There was an attempt to legalize parking in the apron in 2007 when then-Councilman Jack Weiss brought a motion to the LA City Council. The motion was referred to the transportation committee and expired in December 2009, apparently without seriously being considered.
"It doesn't look like there was anything done with it," Norton said.
During that time, Koretz's office sent a letter to landlords in the North Village reminding them that not only is apron parking illegal, it is also illegal to rent out that space to residents, a practice that was reportedly quite common.
As for the Beverly Glen neighborhood, parking is still a significant problem, one Broide would love to see resolved by allowing parking in the aprons.
"Certainly we agree that cars blocking sidewalks should be ticketed," Broide said. "Our frustration is wondering whether we'll be able to make our case and advocate for a law that would allow for apron parking where it does not block the street and does not block the sidewalks."