Parking troubles are nothing out of the ordinary for people living in Venice.
With the community having one of the most popular beaches in Southern California, parking can be quite sparse, to say the least, most especially during the summer.
The parking challenge has recently made headlines in other ways, as the community is seeking solutions to deal with RVs that have been lining the streets, while accommodating those living in the vehicles and property owners.
But while parking issues seem to resonate throughout the community, residents of one neighborhood in particular say they have been facing a different aspect of the problem.
Residents living on certain streets in Presidents Row, a title associated with streets named after former presidents, say that parking for some businesses in the area has had an impact on their neighborhood. They say that due to limited parking being provided at some area businesses, cars associated with the companies tend to park on their streets, depleting spots for residents during the day.
“When you leave your house during the day you never know how far you’re going to have to park from your house when you return,” Victoria Avenue resident Harris Levey, a member of the Presidents Row Neighborhood Association, said.
Resident Daryl Barnett also pointed to the difficulties that neighbors face when trying to look for parking after coming home during the work day.
“It gets to the point where I’m afraid to drive because if I come back, I won’t be able to find parking,” said Barnett, who manages 14 residential units in the area.
Levey said parking problems on streets such as Victoria, Venezia Court and Boccaccio Avenue, south of Venice Boulevard, have been exacerbated in the last couple of years as some adjacent buildings have changed uses to Internet services. Those operations can employ more workers in the same space designated for commercial uses, he said. A number of independent contractors also tend to work for those companies, requiring more parking spaces, he said.
When the municipal code was written requiring a certain amount of parking for the business, the Internet service use was not anticipated, Levey said.
“There are uses that were not anticipated when the code was written,” he said, adding that the code should be amended to address Internet services. “We’re handcuffed by the L.A. municipal code.”
With an increased number of employees working in the same size building as a former commercial space, it has heightened the need for parking in the area, residents say. Most of the businesses don’t seem to provide adequate parking for the number of employees, while many of the residents say they also need to park on the street because they don’t have driveways or large enough garages.
Victoria Avenue resident Lindsey Folsom said she is not directly impacted by the problem because she has a place to park and is not home during the day, but she has noticed an influx of cars on the street.
“I have observed a lot more cars on our street in the last year,” Folsom said.
Venice Neighborhood Council President Mike Newhouse said the council has supported the Presidents Row residents’ effort to address the issue, but he noted that parking struggles occur in other parts of the community, such as Abbot Kinney Boulevard, where there are businesses nearby.
“This is a big problem throughout every neighborhood in Venice, not just Presidents Row,” Newhouse said.
Levey explained that his neighborhood is unique to others because it’s the only area that has a pocket of industrial-type businesses “right in the middle of it.” He pointed out that the fight is not against the businesses themselves but the conditions that have allowed the parking problems to take place.
“We have nothing against the businesses but we should not have to supply their parking,” he said.
Representatives of some of the businesses did not respond to inquiries from The Argonaut seeking comment on the parking concerns.
Levey said he and his neighbors have been in contact with executives of some of the companies who say that they are aware of the matter and have been willing to work with the community and City Council office to try to find solutions. The companies have told the neighbors that they encourage employees to avoid parking on residential streets by carpooling or biking to work if possible.
Newhouse said that as parking is an ongoing problem in Venice with limited spaces, the focus needs to be on making alternative modes of transportation to work, such as bike riding, “part of the culture.”
A representative of Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office said the office has been working with the residents and businesses to discuss long-term solutions including a parking structure or shuttle program from off-site lots. Residential permit parking has also been considered but city staff say that the California Coastal Commission needs to approve restrictions in the coastal zone.
Levey said the neighborhood is continuing to explore various options but hopes to come to an agreement that preserves parking for the residents while not impacting the business operations.
“Some changes have to be done to allow for the protection of the neighborhood while permitting the businesses to do business,” he said.