It’s been said that if you build it, they will come. But what wasn’t said was where they were going to park.
In about three weeks, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and a host of other retail stores are opening at the Santa Monica Place.
Everyone I’ve spoken with is highly anticipating the opening of these new stores. It will do wonders for the area. I imagine that we are going to be pulling in day tourists from as far as Riverside, just to see the new stores and escape the heat of summer. Which is fantastic for the retailers that cater to this population. The restaurants are hopefully going to see a big mid-summer bump in their sales.
I truly want this to be a grand success, selfishly I’m hoping it will draw more of the gorgeous men from West Hollywood to Santa Monica, so that I can get turned down more easily. I hate that drive.
But my biggest concern, and what I’ve been confronting on an all too regular basis lately, like everyone else, is the lack of parking, and the new, higher rates. I realize that once the bulk of the construction is done, the many spaces that are currently occupied by the Fords, Chevrolet and Toyota trucks that make driving in the first three levels of the Santa Monica Place parking structure feel like I’m threading a needle with rope, will be open again.
Once the other parking structure opens up, hopefully it will relieve the pressure on the public parking that currently is overwhelming.
I am in Downtown up to five times a day for various reasons. I’m often banking, taking lunch with friends, at the gym, and I am amazed at how this summer the parking seems off the hook bad, and expensive.
The rates have gone up, for after 6 p.m. parking it is $5. Which really is not bad compared to the private extortionist rates, except that when you consider this is supposed to be public parking, which means the public owns it. We’ve contributed by way of taxes at some point to the building of these lots.
Maintaining them costs money, I know, but it still is annoying. Lately I’ve been spending between $3 and $7 a day on parking.
City Hall wants to push public transportation more. But public transportation is something that in my mind is reserved for kids without cars.
When I was a kid, I would take the No. 8 from our apartment to the beach or UCLA. The last time I was on the Big Blue Bus was about a decade ago, when my car was being worked on, and I couldn’t get anyone to give me a ride.
The nightmare that has become Downtown has forced me to actually revisit the idea of the bus. I workout at Equinox and a friend of mine there, who works for the city planning department, told me that the bus is pretty convenient.
Setting aside all the skepticism a 43-year-old divorce attorney has, I looked at the Big Blue Bus website to check out the routes, times and fares. Based on where my office is, at Pico Boulevard and Euclid, and where I want to go, the Third Street Promenade, I see there is a bus stop out my front door, and it drops me just about exactly where I want to. Hmmm, very convenient.
Then there’s the pricing, it’s 75 cents a trip, so a roundtrip is $1.50. But compare that to the price of gas at $3.50 a gallon, and parking, and the occasional parking ticket, and I’m way ahead.
Lastly there are the issues of timing and ease of use. It looks like there are lots of buses running where I want to go, when I want to get there, but for this I’ll have to actually get on the bus.
I’m so frustrated with the parking situation, the cost, the time lost in searching for a parking spot, the wear and tear on my car, that I’m going to try it. I’m going to commit to three trips on the Big Blue Bus, one to Downtown Santa Monica, one to the Westside Pavilion and one on Friday night. That way I have good cross section of experiences to report on. Perhaps the city planners had this in mind all along. Humans generally don’t change our behavior until it becomes to painful not to change. And let’s face it, Downtown is pretty painful these days with a car.
So this week I’m singing a new song, “Get on the bus, Gus. Make a new plan, Stan. And head on out the door.”
David Pisarra is a divorce attorney who specializes in father’s rights and men’s issues with the firm of Pisarra & Grist in Santa Monica. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.