In a car-culture city like Los Angeles, the issue of parking is always a big deal. It is even more fraught in a community near the beach, which draws people from all over the city and beyond. So it’s not terribly surprising that the issue of who has the right to park overnight in Venice is provoking passionate debate.
Twice, the city of Los Angeles and some Venice community groups have requested that the California Coastal Commission grant them overnight parking restrictions for the area between Lincoln Boulevard and the ocean. That would mean that only residents with annual permits and their guests with temporary permits could park on those streets between 2 and 5 a.m. — or effectively overnight. And twice the Coastal Commission, which is charged with protecting the public’s right to access the state’s beaches, has rejected the requests. That’s largely because the city did not offer sufficient mitigation — alternate parking for nonresidents — to make up for the areas that would become off-limits.
The commission is right to set a high bar. Part of living in a coastal zone means living with the inconvenience of people who come to visit the coast. And access for beachgoers requires parking spaces.
But supporters of the restrictions have a point too. They say their streets are not just choked with the cars of beachgoers but also with those dumped by rental car companies and other businesses. They complain about revelers returning late to their cars, and Santa Monica residents parking in Venice to avoid their own permit-controlled streets.
How many such parkers are hogging spaces on Venice streets? No one knows. The evidence is anecdotal, pitting Venice residents who believe the parking problem has been exaggerated in an attempt to force out outsiders against those who say they are unable to park reasonably close to their homes. (Somewhere on the block would be nice. )
The Coastal Commission has a tough call to make. But we believe it should grant the overnight restrictions. In an effort to mitigate the lost residential parking spaces with public parking spaces, the city has promised to open about 350 new spaces in city parking lots near the beach that had previously been closed to the public overnight. And it will make sure that another 350 spots — most of them metered — on streets near the beach are never restricted.
That’s compelling mitigation. But just to make sure, the commissioners should also impose a cap on permits, which residents must purchase for $15 a year. If the city promises 700 public parking spaces to mitigate the restricted ones, cap the number of parking permits at 700. If residents want more permits, then the city should provide more non-restricted public spaces.