MID-CITY — Saint John’s Health Center has enough parking spaces to satisfy City Hall.
In a letter to the hospital, which has been sold to Providence Health System for more than $125 million, Santa Monica Planning Director David Martin signs off on their latest parking study, which shows the medical facility has 1,375 parking spaces spread out over eight owned lots and four leased ones.
The lots are located on hospital grounds or at facilities close by, like St. Anne’s Church and the Colorado Center.
That’s more than enough parking to meet demand, according to the parking study, which found that on the busiest days the hospital had a surplus of capacity for 319 vehicles.
“The report also confirms that Saint John’s parking operations are functioning much more efficiently,” with the opening of a new entry plaza and a parking lot, plus the addition of two traffic lights at the entry and exit of the plaza, said Kenneth L. Meehan, acting chief operating officer.
The hospital had to submit a new parking study to prove it is meeting its obligations under an agreement with City Hall that allowed it to not build a roughly 430-space parking garage promised in a 1998 contract. The contract gave Saint John’s permission to rebuild following the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
Neighbors have long complained that the cost of parking at Saint John’s facilities is too high and forces patrons and employees to park in the surrounding neighborhood. Parking costs $13 after 90 minutes, according to Saint John’s website. A day pass costs $35.
The study found that monthly parking rates for employees varied depending on where they parked, but overall they were considerably lower than others found in the local market. At one structure, a full-time employee paid $82.33 a month. The cheapest was offered a little more than a block away at the Colorado Center — $21.67 a month.
Parking demand tended to peak around noon and then tapered off sharply after 2 p.m. as hospital staff transitioned from the day shift to the evening shift and outpatient activity lessened, the study found.
It also said that of the 382 employees who worked on a particular day in December who did not have a dedicated parking space either car-pooled or took public transit. Saint John’s said it purchased approximately 290 transit passes for employees in December and that average vehicle ridership during the morning commute increased from 1.36 in 2012 to 1.42 in 2013.
The consultant hired by Saint John’s to perform the study — Walker Parking Consultants — did have some recommendations to improve the situation. One was increasing the cost of parking so that more employees would opt for the “parking cash out” program in which employees are essentially paid not to drive.
Other recommendations include raising parking rates for those who want to park closer to the hospital and better management of parking during days when special events are held or at the emergency room lot to see if parking can be turned over when ambulances don’t need it.