Editor's Note: This letter to the editor addresses Westfield Century City's decision to end free parking. Read more about this story here.
Recently my neighborhood just north of Westfield's Century City shopping mall learned of a quiet agreement between the Westfield and the L.A. City Planning Commission to allow parking fees rather than offer the current three hours free parking.
An email survey of homeowners living within 500 feet of Century City shows that no one living in the neighborhood received notification. The proper procedure is for Planning to notify by mail adjacent properties affected in sufficient time to comment, and then to appear at a formal hearing at the City Planning Commission.
Years ago, Century City Shopping Center had a variety of parking charges, all agreeable to shoppers. Entry before the normal store hours required payment. However, the food market validated with purchase. The theaters also validated, as they required a longer time frame. We had either two or three hours free parking during store hours.
In the early 1980’s the office buildings in Century City raised their prices and all surrounding residential neighborhoods were inundated with office workers wanting free parking. This was about the time that permit parking came into existence. Even crime decreased following permit parking. Then an agreement was established with an adjacent homeowner group for three-hour free parking. It became part of the Mall’s Conditional Use Permit.
Since the economy downturn, Westfield says it is finding that nearby office workers are parking early mornings – exiting with a U-turn just before the three-hour limit and returning to park and go back to work. Therefore they want to penalize the shoppers for those who do not shop but want to benefit from free parking.
Suggested solution: Have only one entrance/exit open before normal store hours, probably Century Park West. Offer two-hour validations to those shoppers for the few stores open earlier, i.e. Gelson’s Market, Apple classes, and the few restaurants. Then during normal store hours, offer two hours free parking with a special arrangement for the theaters to validate for "x" number of hours.
Parking survey of comparable areas of shopping:
- Beverly Hills residents voted last year to have two hours free parking at city lots. Three newer structures have one hour free parking.
- Westside Pavilion: First three hours free parking, third and fourth hours $5 each – more for longer hours.
- Santa Monica Place: Two hours free before 6 p.m. - flat rate of $5 after 6 p.m.
- Westwood Village Broxton (a city Lot) offers first two hours free between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. There are charges of $1.50 for each additional 20 minutes - maximum charge is $9. After 6 p.m. there is a $3 entry charge.
- The Grove offers one hour free - no validation required. Followed by one to thre hours for $3 then $3 plus $1 each 15 minutes to a maximum of $24.
- Beverly Center charges $1 for the first four hours - $2 each additional hour with a $10 maximum.
Remember, this is a shopping center first. I feel that it is an imposition to charge for entry to Westfield where patrons spend money in shops, restaurants and at the movies. Paying for the privilege of spending money doesn’t sound right to me.
—Carol Spencer, vice president of the Comstock Hills Homeowners Association, corporate secretary of the Westwood Community Council and member of the LAPD West Bureau Traffic Committee.
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