By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
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By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Minzer believes that the managers of some fast-food places collude with bandit towing companies to have diners’ cars removed from lots while they are inside.
“You’ll find some of them calling tow-company services that are miles away, instead of us, who are right here.” The bandit companies, Minzer says, typically charge extra fees and avoid paper trails by accepting only cash. Minzer’s family has been in the towing business 45 years and, as an LAPD impound garage, Hollywood Tow does virtually all of its business with the city. Still, Minzer, who is the civilian co-chair of the Hollywood Community Police Advisory Board, gets the bad publicity generated by outlaw tow operators.
“The towing industry’s never had a great image,” he admits. “The bottom line is that people are having their cars held for ransom.”
CONGESTION, NOISEand tipsy club hoppers are problems that today pit the Chamber of Commerce against neighborhood councils, established and sedate businesses against loud, young ones.
Mott Smith, who runs Civic Enterprise Associates, a local urban-development group, is among a growing number of urbanists who believe a completely new parking paradigm is needed, one that would abandon long-standing requirements that businesses provide a minimum number of parking spaces for patrons. (Two parking slots are generally required for every 1,000 square feet of business property in a Community Redevelopment Agency zone such as Hollywood.)
“Otherwise,” he says, “the only people to benefit are big-box stores and fast-food stops — businesses that either have lots of land at their disposal or only need room for a counter and a few tables.”
This idea has found a laboratory in Pasadena, which revitalized its Old Town by, among other measures, persuading daytime parking garages to remain open late for nighttime restaurants and bars, and creating a universal valet service with which visitors can drop their cars off at one location and retrieve them from another. Jose Malagon, who chairs the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s parking committee, says the Community Redevelopment Agency is readying a parking study for Hollywood that will result in three city parking structures being built in the heart of its club district.
“Then again,” he adds, “you know how things work with the city.”
Malagon’s committee is in charge of the Holly Trolley, the ubiquitous minibus that looks like a cable car on tires. Launched this spring by the chamber and DOT to ease traffic congestion by providing visitors a cheap way to get from one nightspot to another, the $400,000 Trolley program has been shut down. It was often empty, even on Saturday nights — perhaps because people mistook it for the Starline tour bus it resembled, or possibly because riding in it was like sitting inside a giant bass speaker on which Star 97 continually blasted. (A spokesman for Garcetti’s office claims the trolley will run again sometime after Thanksgiving.)
With more than 3,800 planned residential units about to go up in central Hollywood, and with four major parking lots about to be taken away around Hollywood and Vine for commercial construction, gridlock is only going to get worse, and parking more expensive.
In late July, the Community Police Advisory Board that Gary Minzer co-chairs met Captain Clay Farrell, the LAPD’s new Hollywood Division commander. Farrell opened with an anecdote about how, before receiving news of his Hollywood assignment, he and another officer had been driving through Hollywood one Saturday night. His story’s punch line had been heard before by many in the room, but not as a joke.
“After being mired in traffic on Hollywood Boulevard at 1 a.m.,” Farrell said, “we swore never to come back.”