Demystifying Local Emergency Parking Restrictions

City council discussed suspending certain parking regulations during the state of emergency but has provided guidance on the helpful coronavirus webpage that is just a bit too nonspecific to be really helpful. Because parking violations come with penalties that are among the highest in the Southland, we want to be clear about where we can and can’t park. To learn more I tried to drill down to the details.

City council at an emergency meeting on March 16th adopted an urgency ordinance to order closed all non-essential businesses and put a break on residential and commercial evictions. Council also recognized that with fewer people working, and nobody traveling or away at school, there would be increased demand for the street parking that is always in short supply.

I looked to the urgency ordinance to see how those parking regulations may have changed but found no mention of it. So I looked for specifics on the coronavirus information webpage and found a short blurb without the specifics that multifamily residents need.

My Quest for Clarity

First I turned to the transportation division of the Community Development department for more clarity. The division is the first stop when it comes to shaping parking regulations including preferential districts and no-parking blocks. By email I asked:

Q: City council has agreed to relax certain multifamily parking restrictions such as daytime street cleaning. When will we have more information on what was agreed and see actual language about those suspended restrictions or policies?

The prompt reply from the transportation division: a screenshot of the parking blurb from the coronavirus webpage.

Covid webpage parking blurb

Next I sent-in a query using the city’s Ask Bev system using the topic ‘Residential Parking Permits.’ (There was no ‘local emergency’ topic to choose.) The response: “I am not sure why your request was sent to the Public Works Department as we do not know this information.” I was redirected to the police department which handles enforcement but not parking policy.

Why the police department? Public Works handles all matters related to daytime & evening and overnight parking exemptions. Public Works even provides information about the holiday parking enforcement suspension schedule. Nevertheless I checked the police department’s traffic bureau webpage. There is posted information about daytime, evening and overnight exemptions. But those topics simply link back to the relevant Pubic Works pages. No added clarity.

I also reached out to the city’s ace media wrangler Keith Sterling who evidently forwarded on the query because soon I heard from the police department. Captain Mark Miner of the Special Operations Division got in touch but he clipped the very blurb from the coronavirus information webpage.

Still looking for clarity I followed up Capt. Miner to ask:

  • What is the difference between “relaxed” enforcement and suspended enforcement?
  • Can a holder of an overnight permit park overnight on a single family street if it is in the permit zone?
  • Is overnight parking restrictions suspended for side street blocks that are near multifamily areas but are immediately adjacent to single-family areas?

For the latter question I used as an example the southwest corner of Charleville & Canon, a half-block where overnight parking is prohibited at all times. Yet across the street, on the north side of Charleville, overnight permit parking is allowed. Ten yards west just across the alley overnight permit parking is available too. In fact of four half-block segments between Reeves and Canon on Charleville only one does not allow overnight parking. By what rationale?

Of course we can’t expect an enforcement agency to explain what is a policy decision. I did get Capt. Miner at least explain the department’s approach:

We used the term relaxed enforcement because counsel still wants the streets cleaned but we are not going to issue sweeper tickets. We would just like residents to still be cognizant so the streets can be cleaned and if it gets bad we may have to start strict enforcement again but we will message the community. There is no overnight exemption on any street unless you call and receive a temporary 30 day parking permit. These are free of charge but we want to verify who is requesting the permit and for what reason.

Capt. Milner’s may be the last word on the subject unless the city reconsiders the parking restrictions to provide more overnight parking capacity for multifamily areas.

Some Parking Advice to Multifamily Residents

As I suggested in an explainer post, Parking During Our State of Emergency, the ambiguous nature of “relaxed” enforcement suggests some caution when parking during street cleaning periods. Park at your own risk, I said. And added some advice:

  • Obtain a one-month temporary permit when somebody in your household needs daytime, evening or overnight street parking. It’s free, quick and easy.
  • Residents needing overnight parking will continue to hunt for a spot on the limited number of multifamily blocks that allow it. I have suggested the city expand that capacity but as yet there is no new area where overnight parking will be allowed.
  • City garages offer free overnight parking to holders of overnight parking permits when parking after 6 p.m. and exiting before 9 a.m.

That bit about overnight parking in city garages represents yet another time-consuming question for information even though it is a key option for multifamily residents who can’t find a place on the streets. Yet information about that option  is not posted anywhere on a city website where I could find it.

I searched the Public Works parking page, the information page for city parking structures, the guidelines for overnight parking permits and the map of parking structures. No luck. With overnight parking capacity for multifamily residents in short supply, it shouldn’t be difficult to information about this important option!

Ultimately I was able to dig out from my files an old parking districts map that explained the policy.
Overight parking garages excerptI confirmed with a Transportation division representative that those four garages still allow free overnight parking with an overnight parking permit.

Update: Subsequent to my inquiry about overnight parking in city garages a new webpage has appeared: Parking Changes Due to Covid-19. Hallelujah! But it provides only information only about city garages. And it shows 11 that are open for business but only six accept cash (implying those garages are staffed). So how many garages actually accommodate resident overnight parking: 4 or 6? Of course that’s the subject of YET ANOTHER QUERY! Stay tuned.

Have you had difficultly with overnight parking or been ticketed when parked during a street-cleaning period? Please get in touch with Renters Alliance with your experience.