Parking Study Finds Abuse of Residential Visitor Permits by West Hollywood Businesses

visitor parking permitA consulting firm hired by West Hollywood to evaluate parking congestion in the area south of Santa Monica Blvd. and west of La Cienega Blvd. has discovered apparent abuses of the city’s parking permit program.

A report from Spencer Consulting Services (SCS) says that commercial establishments are using visitor permits and guest parking permits for their workers. Currently, the city allows any resident with a residential parking permit to obtain up to 50 visitor permits a day, with a maximum of 400 a month. The permits are free and are good for one to 10 days. Residents with their own parking permits can obtain up to two guest permits for an annual fee of $33 each. Guest permits allow parking for one year at all times except during street sweeping periods in the residential districts to which they are assigned.

The SCS study found that occupancy of street parking spaces in the area, labeled District 1, was generally significantly lower than the 85 percent threshold considered “healthy.” For example, in the portion of District 1 east of San Vicente Boulevard, the weekday occupancy average was 51 percent. In the area west of San Vicente, the weekday average was 56 percent.

But on Rangeley Avenue between Almont Drive and Robertson Boulevard, SCS surveys found occupancy rates greater than 85 percent on several visits. Rangeley between Robertson and San Vicente was also more congested.

SCS said its surveyors and city parking enforcement officers discovered local restaurant employees using 10-day visitor permits to park on Rangeley. “SCS believes that such permit abuse contributes as much as 10% to the occupancy rates recording on the two blocks of Rangeley (from Almont to San Vicente),” the report said.

SCS said Parking Enforcement has confiscated five 10-day visitor permits used by restaurant employees parking on Rangeley and five guest permits in District 2 used by employees of two restaurants to park north of Melrose Avenue.

Another indicator of apparent abuse of the visitor permit system, SCS said, is the fact that permits issued in West Hollywood grew from 106,000 in 2006 to 194,000 in 2013. “Most of that 83 percent increase has been in multiple-day visitor permits,” the SCS report said. “They now constitute 61 percent of visitor permits issued, up from 26 percent in 2006.”

“Looked at another way, in 2013 Parking Services issued 1.1 million days of free visitor permits, up 275 percent over 2006.

The city’s Department of Public Works, in a report to the Transportation Commission, said the SCS report “raises concerns on the subject of permit abuse in the district and potentially citywide. The primary issue is related to ‘visitor’ parking passes which are temporary paper hang-tags valid for the date(s) stamped.”

SCS said business owners and their employees may have been driven to acquire guest and visitor permits from District 1 residents because of improved enforcement of commercial parking restrictions in the area. While some “C” or commercial permit parking is possible, the city has been sending commercial vehicles to either off-street lots or underused metered areas with 1M and 1E permits.

“In other instances, residents simply avoid the cost of guest (and maybe even resident) permits by serially obtaining free, multiple-day visitor permits,” the SCS report said. Resident permits, limited to one per licensed driver per household, cost $22 a year for one permit and $179 a year for four permits per household.

The Public Works Department recommends the Parking Subcommittee of the city’s Transportation Commission consider SCS recommendations to reduce the number of visitor permits that residents can receive each month and to increase the penalty for violating the permit restrictions.

Currently, someone improperly using a permit receives a citation from Parking Enforcement and the resident who owns the permit is warned that his permit privileges may be revoked if the infraction is repeated. SCS suggests the city consider a one-year revocation of parking permits on the second instance of abuse of the permit process.

The SCS report will be presented to the Transportation Commission at its meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Plummer Park Community Center at 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. The meeting is open to the public.

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Kenny Easwaran
6 years ago

If the point of parking permits is to ration out the scarce parking spaces, then why are visitor permits free? The city should be keeping track of how many parking spaces are in each district, and they should make sure to never hand out more permits than there are spaces – if people want more, they should buy them from existing permit holders. No one has a god-given right to park for free – the parking spaces are a valuable city resource, and need to be treated as such, just as we treat homes and storage space for other goods.… Read more »

Joan Henehan
6 years ago

Let’s evaluate the cost/benefit of the automated parking structure (being built behind City Hall) and if the concept makes sense for folks working in West Hollywood, study the implementation at other locations. This would maximize space and efficiency.

WehoMel
WehoMel
6 years ago

This problem extends up towards the Sunset Strip area as well. I live on Hilldale and there is never street parking because Sunset employees are given resident passes (rather than park in the abundant public lots). I get that the employees need parking, but the residents do too! I’ve eaten about 4 street sweeping tickets because I work from home and can’t find parking anywhere else in the neighborhood. That, on top of the annual parking permit fees. Not to mention the parking enforcers won’t give tickets for someone taking up 2 spaces, and the non-residents apparently don’t see the… Read more »

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
6 years ago

And our city leaders are surprised by this? This is what they get when they enacted these absurd new parking rules. Hmm..if things worked so great back in 2006…lets reevaluate. Go back to how it was! Take the meters OUT! Allow 2-Hour Parking M-Sat 8am-6pm, Sundays & Holidays FREE. It worked back then. It will again. Yes, Weho has built more since then. That’s the city’s fault for not demanding new projects have adequate parking. But there are simple ways to fix this and allow workers to park. 1) Get rid of these absurd parking rules outside of the residential… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 years ago

This just shows how out of touch our leaders are in the city. Did they really need another consultant to figure this out ? How many more projects will they continue to approve without extra parking and think people will park blocks away and walk in ? How do they think employees making minimum wage can afford to park and work in the city ? Why do they let projects be expanded and built without the proper permits (8623 Santa Monica blvd, floor area increased by 30% with a facade and interior remodel permit) ? Why would they even consider… Read more »

John McCormick
John McCormick
6 years ago

oh part of it is, that’s what rental fees and taxes cover. Happy to share “My Street” with my neighbors, just not business workers parking, residents from 6 blocks away or illegal parked cars who purchased there tags in an alley behind City Hall. Parking reform must start now.

urkle
urkle
6 years ago

@John McCormick

It isn’t “your” street.

John McCormick
John McCormick
6 years ago

I’d just like the chance to use my parking permit on my own street every night…oh, i’m a dreamer.

luca d
luca d
6 years ago

this report is a great start in assessing the misuse of parking passes. while there at it, how about looking into the abuse of handicapped parking passes that the dmv hands out like halloween candy. I can’t count how many west hollywood residents have taken advantage of the privilege of handicapped access. sorry fellas, but if you’re able to go to the gym and work out, you can walk an extra 30 feet into the store. perhaps it’s hard to define what constitutes being handicapped, but you know it when you see it. and in fairness, you know it when… Read more »

wehoenthusiast
wehoenthusiast
6 years ago

Parking is a hot commodity in West Hollywood, and even though still irritated by the meters running later than before (mainly on Sunday, its bad for weho visitors,and bad for residents especially since the cityine doesn’t run that day). This just reminds me of that issue and workers in this city. I really would hope weho could provide at low cost to no cost some level of parking for those who work here. Paying for parking is too extreme for them. As far as the C permits, no problem, its people who are working during the day, At night however… Read more »