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A controversy over parking is heating up in the Melrose and Fairfax Districts as some residents have begun the process to expand permit parking. Much of the controversy lies in the fact that one of the main proponents of the preferential parking district does not live in the area.
The proposed area involves preferential permit parking district 132, which is currently a temporary district covering a four-block area north of Beverly Boulevard and between Curson Avenue and Sierra Bonita Avenue. The temporary district was renewed for two more years on Nov. 3. Some residents, however, would like to make the district permanent and expand it, moving the western border to Fairfax Avenue and the northern border to Willoughby Avenue.
The proposal to expand the district was started by Danny Toscano in 2006, a former resident of the 300 block of Orange Grove Avenue, after he had enough of the lack of parking in the area.
“Spending forty-five minutes driving around my neighborhood just to find a parking spot was ridiculous,” Toscano said.
Toscano set up a table at the corner of his street to get people to sign his petition to implement permit parking in the area. He was able to get enough signatures to get the wheels in motion, but the attempt failed after two years.
“I am not the first person to try this,” Toscano said. “It was probably the third or fourth attempt, but I was just more stubborn.”
Toscano lived in the area for 10 years but moved away after his first attempt to implement permit parking failed. Although he does not live in the area now, he is still pushing permit parking as a favor to his old friends and neighbors.
”I started this when I still lived in the area and I was the loudest voice for this issue,” Toscano said.
Toscano has started a website and a Facebook page to promote the expansion. He also enlisted the help of Seymour Singer, a current resident of the area. Singer is the administrator of the Facebook page, which has more than 120 members. His grandmother has owned property in the proposed expansion area since 1939, and he has lived in the area for 25 years. Singer said he is also fed up with non-residents occupying the curbside parking in the area.
“There are a lot of people who park their cars on our street and only move them once a week for street cleaning,” Singer said.
People who visit CBS Television have also been a problem, Singer said.
“Audience members for ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and other shows at CBS Studios take up a lot of parking on our streets,” he added.
Singer has also participated in past efforts to institute permit parking, but none were successful. An earlier temporary permit-parking district was not implemented because the supporters of the proposal failed to show it would improve the entire area. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) recently concluded studies of the area, however, and a public meeting on the district was held at Fairfax High School on Nov. 4. The meeting gave proponents and opponents an opportunity to voice their opinions, and Singer said he was optimistic after the meeting.
“Other attempts to implement preferential parking [only] made it to public meetings,” Singer said. “But this looks like it could work out.”
The opposition to the permit parking district is being led by Jacqueline Canter, owner of Canter’s Deli, who is vehemently opposed to permit parking and angry that it was started by someone out of the area.
“The most disturbing part is that he (Toscano) doesn’t live in the area,” Canter said.
Canter has more than 150 employees working at the deli and insists the parking problems for them and her customers are bad enough without permit parking.
“Our employees rely on the neighborhood for parking,” Canter added.
Canter’s employees used to have access to the Rosewood Gardens parking lot, which was not being used by Fairfax High School and offered public parking. The employees paid $2 for eight hours of parking, but the high school later began using the Rosewood Gardens lot again, and Canter’s employees had to look elsewhere. The city installed parking meters on the streets around the deli, but they were not convenient, Canter said. The employees could only deposit $2 into the meters at one time, and it only bought them two hours of parking.
“To go out every two hours to move your car is not conducive to running a restaurant,” Canter added.
Fairfax High School is a significant entity in the new district because it is located on Fairfax Avenue, the proposed new western border.
“The school is more or less neutral on the matter,” said Joyce Kleifield, a community representative for the school. “We just want to be involved in the solution to try and help everyone.”
The school has ample parking, making the situation a non-issue on most school days, but there are exceptions.
“There are a lot of sporting events and other activities here that could require extra parking,” Kleifield said. “But the two-hour time limit is fine for us. We don’t feel it will affect the school, but we are sympathetic to our local businesses.”
Business owners against the expansion and proponents of the proposal were given a public comment period that ended on Dec. 6 to express their opinions to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. While the proposal may be gaining steam, it is still only in the first step of a long process. The LADOT will now look at the comments and decide if they wish to present the proposal to the city council for a vote. If the council approves the proposal, that is when the work will begin. The LADOT will need to conduct surveys on each individual street of the proposed district, and get the approval of two-thirds of the residents on both sides of each block to put up “No Parking” and “Two-Hour Parking” signs.
If preferential parking is established in the area, residents will then have to pay $34 for an annual permit and are limited to three per household. Visitor permits can also be purchased for $22. They are valid for four months. Residents who plan a special event can purchase guest permits for $2.50, valid for one day. Although Singer is optimistic the permit-parking district could be created soon, representatives from the LADOT said it could take much longer.
“We don’t have enough staff to conduct the work required for these new districts,” said Bruce Gillman, representative of LADOT.
It could also take a few months for the city council to vote on the proposal according to John Darnell, representative for Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th district. Koretz voted for the extension of the temporary permit-parking district, but has not yet decided to support or oppose a permanent district.
“The city council has so much on their plate that it could take two or three months for this to come up for a vote,” Darnell said.
If the proposal is passed, it could take a significant amount of time to conduct the surveys and put up the signs.
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