Lauren Meister’s Parking Reform Proposal Hits City Council Roadblock

Lauren Meister’s campaign to push back parking meter enforcement hours hit a roadblock last night when two of her four fellow City Council members declined to support it.

At a meeting that lasted past midnight, Meister and her Council deputy, Scott Schmidt, presented seven proposals to address what Meister and Councilmember John D’Amico have described as the city’s negative image when it comes to finding parking.

Lauren Meister
Lauren Meister

The core proposal was to appoint a City Council subcommittee charged with evaluating Meister’s proposal to limit parking meter enforcement along Santa Monica Boulevard and on Melrose east of La Cienega to 12 hours a day, with street parking free on Sundays. Since her election in March Meister has proposed to effectively void an ordinance passed by the Council in 2013 that extended enforcement of parking meters in the city’s busiest business districts by four hours until midnight on Mondays through Saturdays and to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Those extended hours applied to Santa Monica Boulevard from La Cienega west to Doheny and to Melrose Avenue east of La Cienega.

Meister’s proposal would leave in place the current meter hours of 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays on Sunset Boulevard and some of its side streets. Her proposal has called for parking meters to continue to be enforced from 8 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m on Sundays in that part of WeHo bordered on the south by Beverly Boulevard, on the north by Melrose Avenue, on the east by La Cienega Boulevard and on the west by Doheny Drive. That area includes a substantial part of the city’s Design District businesses.

Her proposal drew opposition from the West Hollywood West Residents Association www.whwra.org/, which argues that reducing meter enforcement hours will make parking in commercial areas harder to find and lead drivers to park illegally in residential areas. It also is opposed by the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which has argued that enforcement of parking meter hours encourages turnover at parking spaces. That means business employees are less likely to occupy a spot for eight hours, leaving it available to business customers.

As part of last night’s discussion, Mott Smith of Civic Enterprise Asssociates, a consulting firm engaged by the city to analyze the effectiveness of its parking program, presented a study that showed it was meeting the city’s goals. They include increased turnover of parking space, greater use of off-street parking lots and structures, encouraging business employees to park on peripheral streets rather than main business corridors, encouraging people to walk and bike rather than drive and providing funding for security patrols in busy areas such as the city’s Boystown gay nightlife district.

While Meister, Schmidt and D’Amico questioned minor parts of the data presented by Smith, the focus of their argument was the city’s reputation as a difficult place to park and complaints about the cost of parking tickets. As part of her argument for change, Meister has presented the results of an online survey she conducted earlier this year in which an overwhelming number of the more than 500 respondents complained about parking in West Hollywood. That survey has been questioned by other Council members and residents who note that there is no scientific validity to the way it was conducted because those surveyed weren’t randomly chosen.

D’Amico questioned whether the city is more focused on the revenue it receives from parking fees and charges than the city’s reputation as an easy place to visit. “Treating our residents and visitors better” by changing meter enforcement hours and reducing some parking fines is more important than the $4.5 million in revenue the city receives each year, he said.

Mayor Lindsey Horvath argued that that perception didn’t necessarily reflect reality. “Reputation is more about PR an press than what actually happens,” she said. “Of course the folks who get parking tickets are unhappy… The folks who are happy with the parking changes are not here.”

Councilmember John Duran, who joined Horvath in opposing Meister’s proposal, said “There is no such thing as free parking. This policy is working. We are having turnover to accommodate people.”

The Council did adopt other proposals by Meister. It agreed to update the city’s parking code to ask the Transportation Commission to consider whether to create a second district encompassing the city’s central business area where local businesses could obtain parking credits. Expanding and new businesses purchase those credits under a complex city formula that is intended to ensure that occupancy of existing parking spaces in the area doesn’t exceed 85 percent. The Council also agreed to ask the Transportation Commission to consider ways to make parking signs more visible and understandable and ask the city’s Parking Division to explore ways to make drivers more aware of parking lots and structures, including possibly adding that information to the city’s mobile phone app.

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Michael Niemeyer
Michael Niemeyer
5 years ago

and while I’m at it, I’m sick and tired of apologizing for employees of my business and other businesses in the city for parking here. Does anyone recognize the value of having 1000s of employees coming to our city everyday , spending their hard earned mone here, paying the outrageous sales tax, not to mention state income tax which feeds city coffers? Most cites would give anything to have that type of solid daily income. However instead of appreciating the businesses and the people who work in them, all I hear is collective bitching about it. I wonder how valuable… Read more »

Michael niemeyer
Michael niemeyer
5 years ago

The point is that anyone who concludes that a 2 hour limit is good for business has to have their head up their keister.. We are on the front lines, to witness the parking mess. 2 hours to dine shop and have a drink is ridiculous and the regional people visiting West Hollywood are fed up. They’ve voted by not returning . I would like Karen to explain her parking theory to a visitor from Ohio who watches his car being towed after 7 pm because he couldn’t see the polically correct little signs. The city simply “sets up” the… Read more »

Lynn
Lynn
5 years ago

Virtually every neighborhood, town and city has their own parking regulations. It’s the responsibility of the individual to check it out and then be safe. When shopping, dinner and drinks are likely to exceed 2 hrs. the choices could be parking lot/garage, valet or nearby valet or plan on moving ones vehicle. Many locals business establishments advise patrons of the street parking restrictions upon entry, place an informative card on the table and some will even feed the meter for a patron. It’s our responsibility to select from the correct menu of choices. Last evening while attending a 5:30 meeting… Read more »

Keith Kaplan
5 years ago

It is important to note that the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has NEVER taken a formal position on this issue. Rather, we have repeatedly asked for time to engage the community, both businesses and residents, and time for the professionals who have the most in-depth knowledge of parking and traffic issues to conduct a comprehensive study. Our current parking rules were developed after careful and extensive study. Many of our businesses and residents indicate that they are working well. Others, admittedly, feel differently. The Chamber has reached out to the business community to encourage them to weigh in on… Read more »

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

I never remember members caring much about their mostly honorary titles beyond meetings and official functions until John D’Amico rotated into the office and made it a big deal. No one ever has made pro tem” anything special (Heilman was pro tem for a year until March. How often did anyone refer him as that? No one ever complained when he wasn’t.

joetheplumber
joetheplumber
5 years ago

People refer to Lauren Meister by various names.

Franz
Franz
5 years ago

Thank you for explaining and laying all the data and facts, Karen. You explained it a lot better than I could have. People who are not swayed by facts when evidence is already being presented in front of them in a silver platter should have less influence in public policies and planning.

Kristopher
5 years ago

It’s refreshing to read comments by posters (such as Karen O’Keefe) who aren’t only mindful of actual facts vs. manufactured ones but also form opinions from real facts as opposed to getting caught up in nonsense based on emotions, an agenda, or ideology grounded in self-serving interests instead of the greater good. We need more of this among the electorate and among leaders on the local, state, and national levels.

Mark
Mark
5 years ago

Woody — Your remarks make it apparent you either weren’t at the meeting, were at the meeting but didn’t listen, were at the meeting and listened but didn’t understand, or were at the meeting and listened & understood but are being intentionally deceptive about what really happened. Those are the only options to explain why you’d repeatedly get everything about the issues demonstrable wrong. When it’s pointed out to you, you don’t say “Oh I was mistaken, I’m embarrassed that I was so completely mistaken,” you just get mad and resent that someone pointed it out. Solving this city’s problems… Read more »

Don Jones
Don Jones
5 years ago

Standard rule or Hank’s rule? The paper of record here in the U.S. does use honorific. It’s been 239 years since anyone in this country cared what the Queen is called in the UK press.

Lauren Meister should be referred to as Mayor Pro Tempore.

Franz
Franz
5 years ago

Wait, she actually wants to roll back the hours, when it was already shown that the policy works at keeping spots open, and getting more use from a given spot versus squatters sitting on that spot all night? What is is, the Republican Party?

Manny
Manny
5 years ago

Woody, Karen….Karen, Woody.

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
5 years ago

And, Woody, let’s look again and what you wrote and see who’s being rude: “It will be just as I predicted, the same disregard for the people (& pets) as if the March 3 election never happened. I’m disappointed (& disgusted) to say that I think Horvath is & will let her personal political ambitions interfere with what is good & right for the people 0f West Hollywood & their pets.” There was no disregard from pets. Meister’s proposal was illegal. It is important for people to know if you were intentionally misleading us, if someone attempted to intentionally mislead… Read more »