Finding parking is tough in Santa Monica. Visitors to the coastal municipality are not the only ones who struggle to find a slot to rest their respective automobiles. It is equally difficult for residents.
Two neighborhoods hoped to improve their parking situations at last Tuesday’s council meeting, with council members unanimously approving a pair of amendments allowing for preferential parking permits near Lincoln Boulevard and helping residents and businesses co-exist.
Zone MM is expanded to regulate parking on Pearl Street between Lincoln Boulevard and Tenth St. In that zone, drivers may park for two hours between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
“There is not enough off-street parking for the residences,” Pamela Cane, a Pearl Street resident for 18 years, told council members. “We face on a daily basis a lot of competition from the businesses on Lincoln Boulevard. It’s (become) increasingly worse over the years.”
Cane added the two-hour window for local business parking is “not going to change anything” because of the short-term visit nature of the businesses in the area, such as fast food restaurants and a dental office.
One of those business owners, Brian Lee, opened a yogurt shop on Lincoln Boulevard and said while he appreciates the difficulty of finding parking in front of one’s home, the new parking regulations would adversely affect his business.
“I’m worried that if all of Seventh Street goes to permit parking, I’ll have zero parking for my store,” Lee told council members. “I just hope we can find a parking solution that is win-win for both sides.”
Staff said establishing a two-hour limitation would prevent employees of the businesses on Lincoln Boulevard from parking in the zone all day, potentially opening up more spaces for residents to park there instead.
Also, staff rebuked any suggestions of making the area a permit-only zone because it would make it difficult for residents to receive quick drop-offs from visitors.
Zone GG is now a “No parking, except by permit” area, though “the existing pick up and drop off restrictions along this stretch of Michigan would be retained to facilitate safe passenger loading operations at Samohi.”
“While stringent, these regulations are necessary to help residents find parking near their homes,” staff stated about the Zone GG restrictions.
Staff reported that about 68 percent of the households Zone GG, or the 700 block of Michigan Avenue between Seventh Street and Lincoln Boulevard, petitioned for preferential parking. The petition resulted in a parking occupancy study conducted earlier this year and indicated “that the residential-adjacent parking on Michigan Avenue is frequently 100 percent occupied on weekdays as well as weekends.”
“Parking demand on this block is high due to pressures from Samohi students and area employees,” the staff report added.
Similarly, about 67 percent of residents living in Zone MM petitioned for preferential parking restrictions last October. The parking occupancy study conducted in the following months indicated, “that on-street parking on Pearl Street can be difficult to find, with observed occupancies ranging between 78 and 88 percent.”
According to staff, new permit sales would generate an estimated $1,890 in revenue, “which would offset, but not fully recover, the cost to the City of issuing permits to residents.”
Each preferential parking permit costs resident applicants $15; however, staff reported the issuance of such permits costs City Hall $18.77 each.
In Zone MM, staff estimated 126 new permits would be sold under the new preferential parking regulations there. However, staff did not anticipate any new permits would be sold in Zone GG.
New signage in the respective neighborhoods would cost City Hall about $1,200, staff added.
“Preferential parking is a tool the City uses to manage non-resident parking on residential streets,” the staff report to council members stated. “Preferential parking regulations manage the use of on-street parking to assist residents in finding parking near their home.”