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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Merchants Seek Return of On-Street Parking : Newhall: Additional traffic lanes were added to Lyons Avenue to accommodate detoured traffic after the quake.

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Merchants along Newhall’s main east-west thoroughfare say they have been losing customers and revenue for months because parking was removed from the street to provide an additional lane of traffic in each direction.

They successfully lobbied the Santa Clarita City Council earlier this week to reinstate parking along Lyons Avenue, which had been removed after the Northridge earthquake to accommodate detoured traffic.

“I think we should restore the street to where it was,” agreed Councilwoman Jan Heidt, who owns a bookstore on Lyons Avenue that is part of a small shopping center with its own parking lot.

Santa Clarita traffic officials are now, in turn, asking the state Department of Transportation to stop using Lyons as a detour for the interchange that connects the Golden State and Antelope Valley freeways.

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Caltrans officials say they are flexible as to where the alternate route goes and can amend signs now posted on the Golden State Freeway that announce the Lyons Avenue path.

“We still need a detour,” said Jack Hallin, Caltrans construction division chief. “Whether it’s Lyons Avenue (or not), we’ll work with the city.”

Lyons Avenue was packed with traffic following the Northridge earthquake as drivers shuttled between the two damaged freeways. Previously a four-lane road, Lyons was re-striped to six lanes by eliminating street parking--a widening that is predicted on the city’s General Plan several years in the future.

Although parking was initially prohibited only during rush hours, merchants last week heard plans for a full-time no-parking zone.

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“We saw the signs going up a week ago Thursday, without any notice given and without talking to (business owners), and we became concerned,” said Alan Barbakow, an orthodontist whose office is on Lyons Avenue.

Concern about the prospect of a full-time no-parking zone prompted the creation of the Lyons Avenue Business and Building Owners Assn., which has collected more than 1,500 signatures in three days to support reinstatement of street parking.

Members also secured two hours of air time on a local radio station, KBET 1220-AM, on Monday to discuss the pros and cons of Lyons Avenue parking with city traffic engineers.

They acknowledged that the two additional lanes of traffic were necessary for the months immediately following the Northridge earthquake, but said they believe that business concerns should now take precedence.

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“The needs for the freeway conditions along Lyons were no longer present,” Barbakow said.

Several merchants told the City Council on Tuesday that their businesses have suffered because of the unavailability of street parking. They stressed an even greater need for the parking when the holiday shopping season begins in a few months.

“Take away the parking and young entrepreneurs like myself won’t come in and try and improve the area,” said Lyons Avenue coffee shop owner Mitch McMillen.

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Ben Simione, who runs a deli along the street, said he is losing $100 a day in business because of the lack of parking.

Encouraged by their success on the parking issue, members of the Lyons Avenue Business and Building Owners Assn. say they will continue to operate the group to tackle future issues.

“If we are going to ask the city to not make it a freeway, to keep it a business district, then we have a responsibility,” Barbakow said.

Meeting dates for the association have not yet been determined.

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