Venice's Abbot Kinney Boulevard is one of the few shopping districts anywhere in L.A. offering close-by parking that's 100 percent free — just find a spot in the mostly unpaved lots running along the east side of the street, fronting Electric Avenue, and you won't have to worry about meter maids or parking lot attendants.

But you'd best enjoy it while it lasts. Beginning next March, the city is launching a project to finish paving the lot, adding landscaping and a perimeter wall — and 66 parking meters.

The project was announced to its neighbors in a brief letter from the California Coastal Commission, which helpfully noted that if any of them wished to fight it, they'd be welcome to attend a public meeting Nov. 15 in Newport Beach. Gee, thanks, guys!

Now, this isn't the first time such a project has been announced — Curbed announced the meters were coming back in January 2009. But now, four and a half years later, the project seems to have new steam. A spokesman for the city's Department of Public Works says construction is scheduled to commence March 1, wrapping up by Sept. 30.

The spokesman wasn't able to answer our questions about what stalled the project previously — and why it's again on the agenda. He did explain that the meters will cover the Electric Avenue lots from California to Santa Clara, and that the city's cost will be $741,921.

And while that's no chump change, there's no need to cry for the taxpayers on this one: With all the people flocking to hipper-than-thou Abbot Kinney these days, the city should recoup its investment in a hurry.

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