Santa Monica Lookout Opinion
Close the Loophole in Permit Parking

By Tricia Crane

Massive new development is coming to our city and hundreds of new apartments are already in construction that will offer “unbundled” parking, threatening to jam neighborhood streets throughout Santa Monica.

New mixed-use housing developments on Santa Monica's commercial boulevards - existing, in construction, and scheduled to be built - offer residents without cars the opportunity to "unbundle" the cost of parking spaces available in their building from the cost of the rents.

The stated goal of unbundled parking is to encourage people to dump their cars and use transit. But there is a loophole in this system in Santa Monica that must be closed:

If residents of the existing and future mixed-use buildings who have cars are allowed to purchase Preferential Parking permits from the City, they are likely to forgo paying for the more expensive on-site parking that is offered in the building where they live, choosing instead to purchase low-cost parking permits from the City to park on nearby streets.

Many neighborhoods are already over-parked as workers and customers of boulevard businesses compete for parking space. As more mixed-use projects are proposed and built on the boulevards, the pressures of residential unbundled parking policies will become untenable.

Residents have been informed by City staff that there has been a policy decision that will make Preferential Parking passes available to residents on the boulevards who choose not to use unbundled parking in their buildings.

The State allows for unbundling, but the City can close the loophole in unbundled parking for these new residents. The City must also direct property managers of all housing projects on the boulevards to include in rental agreements a notification that any applications for a Residential Parking Permit from the City will be rejected.

We ask for this policy direction not only to preserve the peace in neighborhoods, but to be sure that future residents of housing on the boulevards are well aware that if they choose to unbundle parking and not pay for parking in their building, they will not be eligible for permits to park in the neighborhoods.

Tricia Crane is chair of Northeast Neighbors of Santa Monica

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