December 27, 2007
Pico-Robertson to mayor—let our parking stay
(Page 2 - Previous Page)But parking is an issue. Only a handful of the shops lining the boulevard have their own small lots. Pico Glatt, for example, a teeming, kosher grocery/butcher/supermarket only has a few spaces in its adjacent lot. A line of cars snakes out into the street waiting for a spot -- a wait preferable to circling the street for parking.
"Parking is already a problem, especially the meters," said Albert Zadeh, one of the owners of Pico Glatt. "I think we'll lose a lot of customers -- they'll go to Pavillions, Ralphs, a place with a bigger parking lot," he said.
"You're going to see a larger percentage of people looking on side streets. They have to build more parking in the neighborhood," resident Ron Rosenberg said.
City Councilman Herb Wesson, whose 10th District intersects Pico and Olympic, is opposed to any initiative that doesn't include more parking. "We would like to see parking structures in the plan," said Ed Johnson, Wesson's assistant chief deputy.
While everyone acknowledges that parking is already a problem, the city's initiative does not incorporate a plan to build new lots.
"Building parking structures is a tall order for the city of L.A.," Weiss said, noting that they are working with business owners to come up with creative solutions for parking.
There are residents who are open to the idea of a plan that will speed up traffic.
"I'm no expert on traffic, but it would work for me -- I work downtown," said Michael Lawrence, who lives in the area.
Others said they are keeping an open mind. Rabbi Alan Kalinsky of the Orthodox Union, who was invited to the Dec. 18 discussion, along with representatives from the Simon Weisenthal Center and other yeshivas, is set to meet with area rabbis to discuss their position.
"The disruption of normalcy for people will be a big factor to overcome," Kalinsky said.
The real concern is how it will affect one of the few Los Angeles neighborhoods where people actually walk.
"It denigrates the idea of community," said Jeff Rohatiner of Jeff's Gourmet Sausages, who, like many others, is concerned about an increase in traffic speed.
"Pico is not like Olympic at all," said Nili Goldstein, who owns Magic Carpet restaurant and also attended the meeting. "There are a lot of kids, elderly, rabbis, walking around,"
Schonwald added, "People walk -- that's the way of life in this neighborhood."
While text of the LADOT initiative concedes that the plan will initially adversely affect businesses, it argues that this will only be until people get used to the new regulations. Officials cite as a model the Chandler Boulevard bus lane, which in 2001 generated fierce reaction from the Orthodox community in the Valley, who were afraid a fast express bus line would similarly ruin their quality of religious life. Since it was implemented, however, the route has been lauded as a boon.
"The sky is not falling," Weiss asserts, which is the reason the city is conducting educational meetings with residents and business owners.
"We want to garnish support for the plan," mayoral official Powell said. "Implementation will be contingent on support of the community and working with the community."
But community and City Council support is not required for the plan to go ahead. Indeed, many homeowner groups will not have a chance to debate the issue until after the New Year, and the next City Council meeting is set for the end of January.
Whatever their conclusions, the plan already seems to be in motion to proceed -- at least the first two phases.
"This is a modest proposal which will have impact that will likely not be as extreme as folks are predicting. The beauty of this proposal is that we can study the impacts, make changes and, I hope, come up with creative ways to help anybody who feels they've been hurt," Weiss said.
"Having said that, everyone in my district complains about traffic," he said. "I can guarantee you this: If we do nothing at all, we certainly won't make things better."
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