City officials say parking permits may be the imperfect answer to a years-long fight waged between residents and car dealerships along South Brand Boulevard.
On Monday, the Transportation and Parking Commission supported streamlining rules for a special permitting process in an effort to strike a compromise between the competing interests.
“It's not a perfect plan. It's a start,” said Commissioner Aram Sahakian in front of about 25 people at the City Hall meeting.
If the City Council eventually approves the ordinance as recommended by the commission, the city will create a “preferential parking district” bounded by Central Avenue to the west, Colorado Street to the north, Glendale Avenue to the east and San Fernando Road to the south.
If 66% of residents on a street within the district sign a petition, the city will automatically grant the request for permitted parking without a public meeting, thereby streamlining the process.
Public works officials have been conducting community outreach meetings about the parking problem since 2010, yet residents continue to complain at City Council meetings. Transportation and Parking Commissioner Arsen Mangasarian said it has taken way too long to get residents some reprieve.
“This should have already been done. We've been talking about this for years,” he said.
Although car dealerships have their own parking, some employees continue to park on residential streets along South Brand Boulevard — home to Mercedes Benz, BMW, Acura and several other dealerships. Residents say the practice only further clogs their on-street parking options that have been squeezed by multifamily units with insufficient parking.
Jeanne Brewer, general manager of Acura, said the parking issue is an emotional one. Although she feared residents who don't pay for the permits will park on major streets such as Central Avenue and South Brand Boulevard, blocking space for her customers, she said she was willing to support permitted streets.
“Is it perfect? No, but is it something we can probably work around and work with? We'll do our very best,” Brewer said.
Several commissioners said if the car dealerships had enough parking on site for their employees, then the city wouldn't have had to work for years to fix the problem. But dealership managers said public streets should be an equitable amenity, noting their status as some of the city's biggest sales tax generators.
Though several residents approved of the plan, some were still upset that they would have to go door to door asking for signatures.
But that's what apartment owner Razmik Grigorian did when he got the 200 block of Windsor Road near the BMW dealership permitted in 2010 — although at the time he needed 75% of residents to sign off.
He said he got 92% of residents to agree. The remaining were vacant apartments.
“I went door to door. I distributed fliers. It was hard work, but it paid off,” Grigorian said.
The parking permits would cost $25 each, and residents would be limited to three permits per household.
For guests, residents could request one-time parking permits from City Hall. The first 30 would be free, but $2 each after that, according to the proposal.