Today, The Eastsider LA published an article about the parking credit program in Atwater Village we’ve been tracking for some time now, although we’ve been hoping our next update would be a good one. Unfortunately, new business owners are having problems opening in neighborhoods like Atwater Village because city’s parking regulations are outdated, don’t promote the good kind of growth, and requires serious improvement.
The focus of the article is 55 Degree Wine owner Andy Hasroun, who’s been working on opening a gastropub next door to the wine shop in the former H&R Block storefront. He hasn’t been able to move forward on his plans to open the pub for the holiday season, since he’s relying on the city to approve a Parking Credit Program that would allow his business the appropriate street parking spaces, rather than, for instance, requiring him to build his own parking. He’s concerned that the delays in legalizing the program will keep him from opening the doors any time soon.
A larger issue
Andy’s not the only one having trouble. We were excited to learn back in July that nearby resident Tricia La Belle would be opening Bon Vivant Market just up the street from 55 Degree Wine, but her October opening deadline was also pushed back because of the city’s parking policy woes. Tricia has been working nonstop to get the city attorney’s office, where the parking credit program now sits, to complete writing the official legal language so that the city can officially adopt the program.
And it’s only along that side of Glendale Boulevard that’s having such specific issues, as the other side has parking provided behind the shopping structure. Tricia said in an email to the city, “I’ve come to find out that the east side of Glendale Blvd is part of a State Enterprise Zone, however the west side of the boulevard was cut out and therefore left this side of the business community out of many State and Local benefits and incentives such as hiring credits, sales & use tax credits, expense and interest deductions, DWP rate discount, sewer facility hookup payment plans, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and reduced parking requirements.”
A little back story about the parking credit program
This has been on the radar of Councilmember Eric Garcetti and his office for quite some time now. The City Council approved his motion to approve the parking credit program in February 2011, giving Atwater Village some hope in attracting more pedestrian-friendly as well as small, locally-owned businesses in the neighborhood. Basically, the new parking credit program started when a study found the area’s metered parking spaces to be underused – under the program, the small businesses along corridors like Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village can purchase “parking credits” tied to those metered spots. This also keeps them from having to build expensive, pedestrian “un-friendly” parking lots, but also ensures there won’t be any overcrowding, and the money put into the program will be dedicated to future studies and improvements in Atwater Village. They’d have to pay as little as $75 per parking credit, which is much cheaper than creating the parking spaces themselves.
Garcetti said in an update published in the Los Feliz Ledger on March 3, 2011 (quote pulled from Atwater Village News), “I share with the community a desire to see mom-and-pop shops and restaurants continue to fill the storefronts along Glendale Blvd. and want to ensure new construction continues to foster a ‘main street’ atmosphere. What we do not want is what the city’s red tape could create—parking lots in front of businesses that would create a ‘mini-mall’ atmosphere or subterranean parking lots that no small business could afford.”
Unfortunately, Tricia, Andy, and a new sushi restaurant opening next door have experienced exactly that – red tape. However, Garcetti’s office has been very supportive – Tricia of Bon Vivant raves about the help she’s received from local field deputy Angela Motta. Additionally, Garcetti spokesperson Julie Wong told The Eastsider LA, “We have been advocating the City Attorney to make it a priority,” and that “They are well aware of it.”
Tricia said in an email that she’s not giving up. “I’m in LOVE with the Village and the folks I constantly meet as they pop their head in to see what’s happening at the location, the positive energy I receive from the community is overwhelming and their support truly uplifting. So when I do open, we will all have one grand party!”
We’re looking forward to it, Tricia! She hopes to now open in February, assuming the city attorney’s office meets its own January 2012 deadline.
If you’d like to support our Atwater Village businesses hoping to open, send a pleasant and supportive email to William Carter in the city attorney’s office at email@example.com