The current parking fiasco on West 3rd Street in Los Angeles, just east of Beverly Hills, might just out-drama tomorrow night's "Real Housewives" premiere.
Ah, the problems of the rich and famous. The Beverly Wilshire Homes Association's most recent newsletter was a call to arms against evils like "mansionization" and a fleet of Thornless Blue Palo Verdes. (The trees are to be planted on 3rd, dangerously equipped with "pollen laden yellow flowers that will drop all over the sidewalks, streets and parked cars.")
But the BWHA has a mother bone to pick, reigning above all others:
Patrons for restaurants on West 3rd Street are parking (and drunk driving, according to BWHA President Diane Plotkin) on neighboring residential streets.
In order for an eatery to be approved by the city, it must guarantee exclusive spots for its customers to park. Which leads us to the real problem: All lots and structures near 3rd are overbooked. Patrons and valet drivers often park in metered spots or in front of nearby houses.
Meanwhile, the BWHA is doing everything it possibly can to make sure such restaurants drown in fees before they're able to open. The team of furious homeowners quickly appeals every liquor license and parking variance the city approves.
For Ratner's Deli, a hopeful New York transplant, that has meant two years of delay and thousands of wasted dollars.
"The BWHA has been making this battle cry for the past three decades," owner Ben Lee said. "No booze, no parking, no booze, no parking."
Half a block down, Magnolia's Bakery finally just decided to open this summer without any seating. Ratner's Deli, however, doesn't have that option. According to Lee, he will need to provide 199 seats to best serve his customers. Because his business proposal has been approved by all levels of city government, he says the BWHA is now planning to sue.
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"It's possible that a civil action be filed," BWHA consultant Robert Cherno confirmed.
Both sides are accusing each other of paying people off. Lee said his New York buddies who once hoped to bring their business to the West Coast are too spooked to go through with it.
But Plotkin won't stop until all is right in the hood.
"They're illegal! Ratner's is illegal, period," she said. "It's a very, very serious problem."