GLATWG comments on Bike Parking

Green L.A. Transportation Work Group has recently been grappling with issues related to parking requirements and how they relate to affordable housing. Many of us (myself included) are generally Shoupistas – followers of Donald Shoup. In The High Cost of Free Parking, Shoup makes a convincing case that unjustifiedly high suburban parking requirements drive up the cost of housing.

For example: in L.A. a typical new housing unit (ie: a condominim in a multi-story building) 2.5 parking spaces, and each space costs $20,000-$50,000+ to build… so… the parking requirement adds  $50,000-$100,000+ to the cost of new home. Reducing this requirement effectively reduces the cost of housing. While developers may not pass this reduced cost savings on to occupants/owners… overall, reducing excessive parking requirements generally can get more housing built more cheaply, which, based on market forces (supply and demand) should reduce the cost of housing.

Recapping: less required parking leads to more affordable housing.

But there’s a catch… some of the city’s most effective mechanisms for building and preserving affordable housing are built on incentives that are based on those excessive parking requirements. Basically, when housing developers build affordable housing, the city allows the developer to build less parking (under what’s called the Density Bonus.) Additionally, in some cases, excessive parking requirements prevent owners from converting rent-stabilized apartments into condominiums.

So… if we’re not careful, moving towards more rational (reduced) parking requirements can actually result in developers chosing to build market rate housing, instead of affordable housing.

Currently working their way through various legislative process, there are three initiatives that include reducing car parking requirements:

  1. AB710 (California State Legislation)
  2. Modified Parking District Ordinance (City of Los Angeles CPC-2007-2216-CA)
  3. Bicycle Parking Requirements (City of Los Angeles CPC-2011-309-CA)   

There’s a lot of commenting and dialog on all three of these… and, generally, the most suburban NIMBY types are out in opposition to anything that will remove any of their god-given parking… but for now, I am just going to focus on #3 the Bicycle Parking Requirements.

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UPDATED 1/11 – Meeting Location Changed

Green L.A. Transportation Work Group monthly meeting
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 2-4pm
Coalition for Clean Air offices – 811 West 7th Street, Suite 1100, LA 90017 – Very easy access from 7th/Figueroa/Flower Red Line / Blue Line Metro Station 

1. Introductions:  10 minutes

2. Green LA Retreat – Steering Committee Follow-up/Discussion (Joe/Stephanie): 25 minutes

Discussion topic:  “What do you think as a GLATWG Win?”

3. Last meeting updates : 20 minutes

   – Living Streets Grant (Ryan L/Dorothy)
   – Parking In-Lieu Paper (Ryan L.)
   – Wilshire Bus Only Lanes (Sunyoung/Esperanza)
   – Metro/Carolyn Chiu leaving (Deborah)

4.  LA Bike Plan Update (Dorothy): 10 minutes
       background: Bike Plan FAQ

5. TAXI for 2010 strategy update (Betty/Sentayehu): 10-15 minutes

6. LA Marathon Temporary “Bus Street” update (Jerard): 5-10 minutes

7. Transform America’s T4Agenda (Stephanie): 5 minutes

8. Member Forum/General Announcements: 10 minutes
  Green L.A. – Green Jobs ; February 3rd 2010
  L.A. StreetSummit ; March 18th & 20th 2010

For February Meeting: Try to have something on CicLAvia

Reseda Boulevard where the Bike Lanes currently end at Kittridge Street - from Bing Maps

Reseda Boulevard where the Bike Lanes currently end at Kittridge Street - from Bing Maps (North is to the left, Reseda Park is on the upper right, the L.A. River runs vertically through the middle) - (update 8/19/2009: this is where they appeared to end on the aerials in Bing Maps which may be slightly out of date... but when I biked there today, the ground truth is that they end a couple blocks north of this photo - at Vanowen Street.)

Here is a letter that I sent today to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) general manager Rita Robinson, and copied to the mayor and various councilmembers. Though I’ve identified myself as the co-chair of the Green L.A. Transportation Work Group (GLATWG,) this represents my opinion, not necessarily a consensus position decided by the entire GLATWG.

15 August 2009

Rita Robinson, General Manager
Los Angeles Department of Transportation
100 S. Main St., 10th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dear Rita Robinson:

I want to bring to your attention what I think is a sad breach of the public trust made by your staff.

In June 2009, LADOT’s Paul Meshkin reported in writing to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (LABAC) that approved bicycle lanes on Reseda Boulevard had been canceled because LADOT’s West Valley District planned “peak hour lane usage in near future.” The written plan for peak hour lanes was subsequently confirmed in a July phone conversation between LABAC chair Glenn Bailey and LADOT’s Ken Firoozmand.

Subsequently, in July and August 2009, your staff, including Ken Firoozmand, Bruce Gilman, and Carolyn Jackson denied that LADOT had plans for peak hour lanes for Reseda Boulevard. These LADOT staff stated that the LADOT plan for peak lanes was a “rumor” and that it was “not propagated” by LADOT.

It doesn’t surprise me that LADOT would favor a peak lane plan that would increase capacity for cars, indeed this is LADOT’s job and what LADOT has historically successfully focused on. What surprises me is that LADOT staff lied. Governmental agencies depend on the trust of the public to make our city work. When LADOT staff deny something that LADOT staff have already put in writing, this duplicity damages the public trust and makes it difficult for all of us to work together in the future.

I urge you to work with your staff to be honest, clear and transparent and to rebuild the public trust that their actions have strained. I also urge you to immediately implement the long-delayed bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard.


Joe Linton
Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee appointee for CD13
Green Los Angeles Transportation Working Group, Co-Chair
[street address], Los Angeles, CA 90004

Attachments: documentation of quotes herein.
cc: Mayor Villaraigosa, Councilmembers Garcetti, Rosendahl, Smith, and Zine

Attachments include:
1. LADOT’s June 2009 Bike Lane Projects Status – see item 8.
2. LAist’s August 13 2009 article: LADOT Says They’re Caught in Rumor Mill about Eliminating Bicycle Lanes

(FYI to blog readers: for some more background on this, see also L.A. Streetsblog and Biking in L.A.)