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Less Parking Required in New Atwater Pedestrian District

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A fresh new parking policy is on the way in one of the city's older (but recently hip) neighborhoods--earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council approved a pilot project that will create a special parking credit system along Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village. The pilot program, only the second of its kind in LA (after a program on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock), will create the Atwater Village Pedestrian Oriented District, which will allow businesses from the LA River to the border with Glendale to satisfy "parking requirements by obtaining parking credits...in lieu of complying with the Code's parking requirements," according to the language of the ordinance. In other words: less parking required. The program is meant to preserve the neighborhood's building frontages, most of which are positioned tight to the street, rather than in LA's more common stripmall configuration. Mott Smith, founder of developer/consultant Civic Enterprises Associates, tells Curbed: "The program doesn't create parking; it uses available parking to spur economic development," adding that because the cost of building parking is so prohibitive, businesses will now have an easier time launching on this corridor. He says the program is similar to the one that led to the revitalization of Old Town Pasadena.

Parking credits will come from "underutilized public on-street spaces, publicly owned off-street spaces, or privately owned off-street spaces," all of which are common along this corridor. A 2008 parking use survey by Civic Enterprises established the baseline parking conditions, and the Department of Transportation will update the survey as needed going forward. How many credits does a business need? The ordinance explains as follows: The total number of parking credits required for a given use is determined by adding together the parking credit requirements for the use for each of the four time periods during which the use will be open for business...For example, a restaurant with 1,000 square feet of gross floor area (GFA) open 24 hours per day would be required to obtain 33 parking credits (7+10+6+10)."

Councilmember Eric Garcetti, who represents the stretech of Glendale Boulevard that will test the new program, said today that the program will keep Atwater villagey: "Atwater Village's Glendale Boulevard has become an attractive location for small, independent business entrepreneurs from restaurants to bakeries, and the parking credit program will help us keep it that way. The new program is supported by local residents and businesses who want to maintain the quaint character of the neighborhood's main drag."

The pilot project has been approved by the City Council and signed by Mayor Villaraigosa, and will go into effect on March 5, 2012. The City Planning Commission will review the pilot project in five years to determine its "operation and effectiveness."
· Community Parking Project / Atwater Village Pedestrian Oriented District [LA City Clerk]