A surprising amount of traffic isn’t caused by drivers on their way somewhere. Rather, it is caused by drivers who are searching for a parking spot. Cruising for curb parking in Westwood Village, for example, creates about 950,000 excess vehicle miles annually -- equal to 38 trips around the Earth.
Some cities have reduced cruising in business districts by setting the parking meter rates to achieve about 85% occupancy, so one or two vacant spaces are almost always available on each block. Getting those rates right can eliminate much needless driving.
There is plenty of room for price adjustments; the rates for 81% of the parking meters in Los Angeles have not changed since 1990. Most drivers would probably accept gradual upward adjustments -- especially if they can find a parking space without cruising. But first the City Council must sign on to the 85% occupancy target for curb parking.
The goal is not to get the meter rates exactly right, but Los Angeles could get them far less wrong.