Multifamily residents from Reeves to Crescent recently received a mailed notice that the Traffic & Parking Commission would consider modifying the preferential parking permit zones on the 200 and 300 blocks of Canon Drive. These blocks are in the ‘Q’ zone, which is shared with multifamily households on Reeves, Canon, Crescent and Elm. We said NO to the petition and the commissioners supported us. No change to Canon parking!
The petition proposed a modification to the regulations that would have made the two blocks of Canon ‘No parking anytime, Q-permit exempt.’ Multifamily permit holders would be able to continue to park there during daytime hours with no time limit. Residents without permits, and visitors, including disabled visitors without permits, would not be able to park any longer. At least that’s how the petition was described in the mailed notice.
We would have opposed the petition on those grounds alone. The streets fronting multifamily blocks already provide less on-street parking than our densely-settled community needs. Many of our buildings are ‘under-parked,’ in planner’s lingo, and cannot provide parking for existing demand. (Some buildings include no off-street parking at all.) Add to that the guests and those who visit South Beverly Drive and there is no room at the inn! Our limited street parking is at full capacity most of the time now.
Complicating the issue, too, is that ‘Q’ parking permits are used by employers to provide employees parking on our streets. (However using an unlawfully-procured resident parking permit is not legal.) Enforcement is lax to say the least.
Multifamily residents should have opposed the parking petition were it only to eliminate the 1-hour parking allowance. That would push demand to our multifamily streets because parking would then be prohibited on Canon without a permit. Also, multifamily households with the Q-permit sometimes park on Canon Drive when there is no available space on a street close to home. The street cleaning shuffle is another time when we may look to park on Canon.
Then we had a look at the commission’s staff report before the meeting. We saw a departure from the mailed notice: Canon Drive homeowners wanted more than to eliminate 1-hour parking. They were petitioning to exclude all residents of multifamily areas from parking on Canon. As the staff report noted, that could be done by simply changing Canon Drive’s Q-zone to some other zone. Q-permit holders would then not be able to park there even with the passes we had just purchased.
Seeing a full-on prohibition, Renters Alliance contacted residents on the multifamily blocks of Elm, Crescent and Canon to alert them. In to the commission tumbled last-minute emails in opposition and we think it turned the tables on our multifamily neighbors.
Ultimately the Traffic and Parking Commission denied the petitioners their requested change in parking regulations. Thanks to everyone who stepped up with an email or showed up to explain to the commission why it’s important that the city take the needs of multifamily areas into account.
Lessons to Take Away
Scroll down for the reasons Renters Alliance opposes onerous parking restrictions near multifamily zones. They may apply to any multifamily area where there exists a preponderance of older residential rental structures that don’t provide enough parking for occupants. We feel that our multifamily areas deserve extra deference when the city is asked to change established parking regulations and the Traffic and Parking Commission agreed.
The commissioners were also sensitive to the fact (as one resident noted) the city has sold 17,000 Q-permits — even though there is not nearly enough curb in the Q-zone to accommodate parking with those permits — and enforcement is lax. Keep that issue in mind should homeowners petition to change local parking regulations in your area.
If you receive a city notice, be sure to look carefully to assess the objective of the petitioners. Are they looking to exclude multifamily residents? If so, organize the neighbors and oppose the petition. Petitioners count on high enthusiasm among their ranks and low interest on the part of the multifamily neighbors. But we have the numbers.
Have a question about a parking regulation change? Get in touch with Renters Alliance and we’ll see if we can help. Remember that nobody has a proprietary claim to a public street!
Why We Opposed Onerous Parking Restrictions for Canon Drive
- The parking needs of multifamily areas need special consideration. Multifamily (R–4) areas are higher residential density than are single-family (R–1) areas. There is also a preponderance of older, multifamily properties that do not provide sufficient parking. Residents without off-street parking compete for very limited street parking and pushing parking demand onto our already-overburdened streets only compounds the problem.
- Our multifamily blocks are already affected by parking demand from South Beverly Drive businesses. My neighbors and I should not have to bear that burden exclusively. We are fortunate to live near a vibrant commercial corridor and we enjoy the outdoor dining options that South Beverly provides. But business visitors may choose to park on our blocks during daytime hours and we sacrifice our limited parking opportunities to accommodate them.
- Restricting Canon Drive to ‘No parking anytime’ will remove much-needed, short-term daytime parking capacity. Today that capacity accommodates some of the demand for parking on our multifamily blocks. Even if it is only 1-hour parking, still it accommodates neighborhood visitors who would otherwise park on our over-crowded streets.
- Restricting Canon Drive to ‘No Parking Any Time’ will take away a parking option for multifamily residents. Today we and our guests can avail ourselves of short-term parking in a pinch. Even if we have not purchased a preferential permit. That will change if parking is entirely restricted to homeowners on Canon.
- Restricting Canon Drive to ‘No parking anytime’ would throw our street-cleaning shuffle into chaos. It’s a game of ‘musical chairs’ from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Canon provides an important relief valve when the curbs are cleared of cars in the multifamily areas. Restricting Canon parking to ‘No Parking Anytime’ would compound the street-cleaning impact.
- We already suffer impacts from past parking policy choices. Nobody shared with my neighbors and I the rationale for eliminating parking on El Camino, Rodeo and other streets west of Beverly (including Gregory). Certainly nobody asked our opinion. Yet the ‘No parking anytime’ restriction there has pushed demand for street parking into our neighborhood. Today our multifamily streets are not merely an option for business visitors but the only option. Restricting Canon in the same fashion will only add to existing impacts.
- Lastly, single-family properties by law already provide sufficient parking for their occupants and guests. They are required to by the Municipal Code. In contrast, multifamily areas are ‘under-parked’ (in planner’s lingo) because the city allows older rental properties to continue to operate despite the shortage of parking. These are ‘legally non-conforming’ when it comes to parking. If Canon Drive is a necessary relief valve for under-parked multifamily areas, why would transportation staff recommend reserving those 200 and 300 blocks for just homeowner use?
We made some of these arguments to the commissioners and emphasized that multifamily interests have to be a part of the discussion.