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Westwood Residents Urge the City to Permit Apron Parking

People affected by the recent crackdown on apron parking persuade the City Council's Transportation Committee to work on drafting a motion to allow the longtime practice.

Westside residents gathered at a Los Angeles City Council committee meeting Wednesday afternoon to ask city officials to grant apron parking in certain congested neighborhoods.

About 20 concerned residents, many from Boulevard, attended the meeting to hear the Transportation Committee's motion to allow residents to legally park in front of their own driveways.

If a law is passed, it will allow city-wide property owners and renters to park in front of their driveways. Wednesday's motion, however, was simply a request that DOT report back on the steps that residents need to take to make this happen. The motion passed and a response is expected within a month.

However, several attendees wearing actual aprons took the opportunity to plead with council members to amend the driveway motion to also include apron parking.

Apron parking is the practice of parking cars in driveways so that they only partially block the sidewalk by partially jutting out into the street. It has been going on for years to alleviate parking congestion, residents said Wednesday. 

“We live next to one of the largest universities in California, and we have issues that are not in any other neighborhood," Roxane Stern, a 13-year resident of Westwood’s North Village, said to the committee. "Right now, it’s a lose-lose. If you make some changes, it will be a win for everybody.”

The committee members were only allowed to discuss driveway parking and not apron parking because the latter was not on the agenda. However, 11th District Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who chairs the committee, nonetheless let the residents voice their concerns.

Christopher McKinnon of Mar Vista recommended an amendment to the committee’s driveway motion to allow cars to park in the apron in a way that doesn’t block the street. 

The Department of Transportation started issuing tickets this week to vehicles parked in the apron, a move that 5th District Councilman Paul Koretz delayed until after the spring quarter ended at UCLA.

“This is a system that worked for decades,” said Susan Lieberman of Westwood. “All of a sudden, it’s being pulled out from under us.”

She added that the students have no alternatives to the parking situation and it will get worse when more students return in the fall quarter. 

The  on apron parking came as the city faced a threat of being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, because the practice often blocks sidewalks. But the removal of apron parking actually harms those who have a disability because they cannot find close, convenient parking near the school and the surrounding neighborhoods, Lieberman told the committee.

“Ticket those that block the sidewalks but bring back apron parking,” she said. “This [potential] lawsuit is bogus. … It’s more of a hardship to people who have a handicap that come to visit us.”

Rosendahl was advised by a representative from the city attorney's office who attended the meeting that he could not present or amend a motion during the committee meeting about the apron parking issue because it was not on the agenda, and that he would have to schedule it for a future meeting. But the councilman expressed his support for the apron parking system, nonetheless.

“I don’t want traffic officers going out there and ticketing people who for 20 years have been in those aprons with no safety issues and no inconvenience issues for anybody,” said Rosendahl.

He called an ordinance that prohibits parking of any kind in driveways a “dumb law.” 

Rosendahl and Koretz plan to draft a motion with DOT as soon as possible to address the apron parking issue and whether it should apply to Westwood only or other areas of the city. That motion could be presented as early as Friday.

“This is clearly a disastrous situation,” said Koretz. “The motion today is an incredibly modest first step in the right direction. We clearly have to do more, and we have to do it fast.”

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