Abbot Kinney Boulevard is one of the notorious areas of Venice that has been plagued with parking problems.
Whether it is during the highly popular First Friday event, dinner time on weekends or busy shopping days, residents and businesses say there is simply not enough parking near the eclectic boulevard of restaurants and boutiques.
“It’s definitely a disaster,” said Don Novack, co-owner of Hal’s Bar and Grill, describing the area parking situation.
“The neighbors complain that there is nowhere for them to park in front of their homes, and businesses are constantly complaining that their clients can’t get to them.”
In recent years additional parking spots have been provided in lots off of Electric Avenue. Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl has worked to create 115 metered parking spaces on city-owned lots under a plan spearheaded by former Councilwoman Pat Russell.
The city is soon expected to add to the area parking supply with construction on four city-owned parcels on Electric between Venice Boulevard and Santa Clara Avenue, but Rosendahl believes more parking would still be needed.
“What we’re looking at is ways to meet the parking issues on Abbot Kinney,” the councilman said.
One option that has been proposed to Rosendahl by Novack and associates is for the construction of an automated parking structure on one of the Electric lots between California and Santa Clara avenues. The project would be modeled after similar parking structures in Europe, which involve an advanced form of robotic vehicle storage that allows drivers to independently park and retrieve their vehicles in compact spaces.
Rosendahl said the plan would be initiated through a public-private partnership with the city and could provide up to 200 parking spaces where there are now about 50.
A similar structure recently opened at a UCLA Health System medical office building in Santa Monica that accommodates 385 cars. According to the Nautilus Group, which developed the system, visitors pull onto one of six parking platforms, exit their cars and go to a nearby kiosk for a parking ticket. The system then automatically places the car into a compartment based on its size. When leaving the building, visitors swipe their ticket, make a payment and wait while the system retrieves their car.
“It’s like a giant vending machine for your car,” Randall Miller, Nautilus Group president, said in a statement.
Many of the Abbot Kinney merchants have been supportive of the idea, said Novack, who believes it could help alleviate some of the parking issues and provide relief to both residents and businesses.
“We need it; we need parking because people are tired of driving around the block looking for a spot,” Novack said. “I think it would be a plus for almost everybody.”
Novack said the Venice project would be more compact, require less space and be less expensive than the facilities built in cities like Budapest, Hungary. The proposal would also be more environmentally friendly than a typical garage and provide security, with limited noise level, he said.
Rosendahl introduced a motion to the council’s Transportation Committee May 23 calling for the departments of transportation, city planning and building and safety to prepare a request for proposals (RFP) to provide an automated parking system on Electric and other potential city lots. According to the motion, the parking system should include the use of solar panels, art elements, bicycle facilities, comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and be enclosed to minimize noise.
After Department of Transportation staff said the city lacks the expertise to determine the technology required for the parking structure in the RFP, the committee voted to request more information on the technology.
Rosendahl said the plan is in the early stages and while he wants to make sure any potential neighborhood impacts are addressed, he is encouraged by the chance to offer more parking relief.
“I’m excited about expanding our options and thinking out of the box to create more parking for Abbot Kinney,” he said. “This is the beginning in my mind, of a substantial new strategy in dealing with the parking problems.”