The City Council and Planning Commission are trying to create a vibrant Mecca of mixed-use areas throughout the city that will attract hundreds of thousands of people. However, many of those visitors will not arrive via Expo [Light Rail]. They will arrive by car, competing with residents for already limited parking. The north part of our city will never be served by Expo, but will also attract increased visitor attention.
A consultant has offered the commission a draft plan that would drastically cut the parking required for developments (“Imagine Santa Monica with even less parking,” Feb. 1). But reducing parking requirements would negatively impact businesses, residents and visitors. If visitors can’t park, they won’t shop, dine and visit our unique city. And should all the residents who live far from Expo always have to take several buses to reach their doctors, dentists and other necessities of life?
Progressive city planners agree that cheap, plentiful parking encourages cars. More cars mean more traffic and pollution. Plentiful parking does encourage car use. But eliminating the majority of reasonably-priced parking punishes residents and businesses, especially those far from the Expo Line. We need to be sensible about parking, not draconian. We need to balance progress with reality and humanism.
In a recent interview, Sue Himmelrich, the new planning commissioner, said that 10 to 20 years from now we’d have cars that drove themselves. Let’s keep in mind: cars that drive themselves still need parking spaces.