By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Rothmann aims to “unbundle” things, theorizing that parking-free housing will be cheaper, and Angelenos will not only embrace these cheaper dwellings, but, once living in one, will abandon their cars. However, a study by Cal Poly Pomona shows how resistant Angelenos are to mass transit: Fewer than 6 percent of area residents near subways use them to commute.
Nor does Rothmann’s plan seem likely to stimulate very much cheap housing, with developers wary of erecting bizarre, parking-free apartments or condos in a city filled with workers married to cars.
Even the residents who use L.A. subways seem one headache away from abandoning trains. Subway rider Monica Semus lives in the Hollywood Hills one mile up a sharp incline from the Hollywood/Vine subway station. She spends $5 a day to park in one of the last remaining parking lots, then hops the Red Line to class at Cal State Los Angeles.
But, ironically, the parking near the subway is being squeezed out by what Villaraigosa calls “elegant density” housing along Vine Street and Argyle Avenue. Soon, all parking on that lot will be reserved for owners and renters of about 1,000 new residential units, including 300 condos.
“I want to take the train,” Semus says. “But if I can’t park near the subway station, I’m back to driving.”
Still, Villaraigosa’s planning appointees insist that creating parking hell is the key to a pedestrian-friendly future. As Planning Commissioner Mike Woo explained August 9, “I think an ongoing problem we’ve had is our reluctance to use the stick as well as the carrot to change ‘transit behavior.’?”
All the carrots, however, are for the developers, while the sticks are for Los Angeles residents. In a letter from the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council to Gail Goldberg, director of the Planning Department, neighborhood activist Wes Joe appealed for empirical research before the city adopts Rothmann’s highly speculative ideas. Joe fears that, if the city bothered to do its research, the Planning Department would find that the plan will merely make life miserable and gentrified.
“Given rising rents,” Joe writes, “many of these new [Silver Lake apartments] consist of singles sharing a unit, each with his or her own car. The result has been parking congestion. .?.?. So, in a sense we are already trying out the concept of reduced parking, and the result has been a diminished quality of life.” Joe notes that residents of increasingly crowded Silver Lake still don’t use transit: “No. [That’s for] the displaced lower-income residents” who can’t afford the new developments.
Joe reiterated his remarks before the Planning Commission. Commissioner Woo acknowledged that Joe made some good points. The commission then promptly ignored them all, unanimously endorsing Rothmann’s legislation.
Rothmann is from New York, which he boasts “doesn’t have any parking.” But it does have buses and subways that get you where you need to go. Not true in transit-poor Los Angeles, where officials are eagerly advocating for less parking, but are years away from offering residents a serious alternative to their cars.
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