West Hollywood Sticks It To Drivers And Extends Parking Meter Hours

Let the hoots and hollers begin!

To the frustration of many people, West Hollywood, which is known for its exuberant nightlife on Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards, is extending parking meter hours after also increasing parking meter rates not too long ago.

So instead of getting free parking along Santa Monica Boulevard after 6 p.m., people visiting such places as the Abbey, Hedley's, and St. Felix will have to pay $1.50 per hour between 6 p.m. and 12 midnight, feeding the machines every two hours or so to make sure they don't get a pricey ticket.

Former West Hollywood transportation commissioner Scott Schmidt thinks it's ridiculous...

West Hollywood sent out a press release on Thursday touting how the parking meter extension will be great for one and all: more meters will be available throughout the evenings, improved traffic circulation, and so on.

Never a city to miss an opportunity to make some kind of political statement, officials are even claiming that the parking meter extension will "reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars hunting for parking."

Schmidt, who was a transportation commissioner until May and ran for West Hollywood City Council in 2011, dismisses such a pumped-up notion. "Any greenhouse gas reductions will be minimal," he says.

In West Hollywood, nothing is ever what it seems, which L.A. Weekly detailed at length in the 2010 cover story "West Follywood." That certainly holds true for parking meters.

"They have to pay for the library," says Schmidt.

You see, West Hollywood recently built a $64-million library on San Vicente Boulevard just south of Santa Monica Boulevard with a large public garage attached to it. The garage's parking fees help pay off the bond for the library, but the city needs a steady stream of business.

By extending parking meter hours on the streets, the city can probably lure more drivers into the library's garage, where you can pay for long periods of time and not feed the meter and worry about getting a ticket that's more than $50. And the city gets the money to pay for the library. See how nicely it works?

On Sunset Boulevard, where people head over to the House of Blues, the Comedy Store, and the Roxy Theatre, parking meter hours will now be enforced on Sundays.

West Hollywood City Council members John Heilman, John Duran, Abbe Land, and Jeff Prang approved the parking meter extension. Councilman John D'Amico voted against it.

Schmidt says West Hollywood tried to extend parking meter hours in the 1990s, but there was a huge public backlash.

"People got so upset that we had to roll [the parking meter hours] back," says Schmidt. "People wanted free parking at night. It was expected."

Schmidt was vocal in opposing the extended hours and standing up for the public. Interestingly, he was not asked by the City Council to serve another two years on the transportation commission when his term ended in May.

That's West Hollywood politics for you.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Patrick Range McDonald on Twitter at @PRMcDonald.

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