L.A. officials seek to ease parking problems

L.A. officials hope to simplify parking signs to eliminate confusion

Los Angeles officials pushed forward Wednesday with two programs that target one of the city's most ubiquitous problems: finding a place to park.

During a downtown committee meeting, City Council members asked transportation officials to test a simplified street parking sign that could replace the classic red, white and green placards, saying that the current, sometimes towering stacks of notices can confuse drivers and unintentionally result in parking tickets.

Every Los Angeles driver has attempted to decipher seemingly conflicting parking signs and has later found a parking ticket on the windshield, said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who sponsored the motion.

Over the next 45 days, the Department of Transportation will test a design proposed by a local graphic artist. Its clean, grid-like format divides parking restrictions by day and hour, using green and red time blocks to show drivers when they are allowed to park and when they aren't.

Transportation officials said they have been working to make parking signs as "simple and obvious as possible." One hurdle, a senior transportation engineer warned, would be getting approval from the state office that regulates the color and appearance of street signage.

Council members also asked for a ban on the sale of public parking spaces, aimed at mobile apps that allow drivers to auction off metered parking spaces for profit.

One app, called, MonkeyParking, allows drivers with time left on their meters to log into the app and offer their spaces for sale. Nearby drivers can place bids for the spots. The app coordinates between the two drivers, allowing the top bidder to pull into the spot as the first driver leaves. The profit is shared between the driver and the company.

"It's the stealing economy masquerading as the sharing economy," Councilman Mike Bonin said. "Not all technology is progress."

The Rome-based startup says MonkeyParking simplifies the "old and painful problem" of circling to find parking. Its chief executive did not return a request for comment.

This summer, San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera sent a cease-and-desist letter to MonkeyParking and two similar apps, saying that their operations violated a city law that bans companies from buying, selling or leasing the city's on-street parking. Herrera warned that any driver who was caught auctioning off a parking space would be fined $300.

MonkeyParking has temporarily disabled its San Francisco operations, according to a company blog post. Last month, it expanded to Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.

Twitter: @laura_nelson

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