BROADWAY — Parking is never easy to come by, but in the heart of the city’s light industrial district where businesses have exploded over the past 30 years, it can at times seem impossible to find.
But there will be some temporary relief to the long-standing parking problem along the eastern stretch of Broadway after City Hall and Verizon recently entered a short-term lease agreement in which the telecommunications company agreed to open its lot on the 2200 block for businesses to use for free until Nov. 22.
The lease came in response to concerns from local business owners about the expected loss of parking from road construction that was anticipated to begin this month on Broadway Place, an alley that sits to the south side of the street, blocking as a result access to on-site parking spaces, including for Back on Broadway restaurant.
“We can’t even get into the limited parking that we have,” Fred Deni, the owner of Back on Broadway, said.
A Verizon representative was not available for comment.
Business owners in the area have for years been lobbying Verizon to open its surface parking lot for local employee parking, noting the benefits the company would receive, including revenue from leasing. The company however has turned down offers because of plans it has for the site.
“It really is such a waste of property to sit there empty,” Deni said.
The neighborhood around Back on Broadway has changed dramatically in the 30 years since the restaurant opened, joined by art galleries and production studios.
“The whole alley is being squashed so when the alley situation came up, it was just the last straw,” Deni, who contacted City Hall last week about the impending construction on Broadway Place, said.
The issue of parking is one that will be addressed in City Hall’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), which is a comprehensive planning document for Santa Monica. Eileen Fogarty, the planning and community development director, said the LUCE will establish transportation demand management districts where opportunities for shared parking and even shared commuting between small businesses will be identified.
The model has worked well at the Rand Corp. and Water Gardens where there has been a 50 percent reduction in single occupancy vehicle trips through vanpooling and disincentivizing individual parking by charging fees.
Sitting at 2201 Broadway, the lot is big enough to fit about 30 cars. There are also metered spaces on Broadway, which now have extended hours to accommodate customers of the nearby restaurants.
“We’re really pleased and excited that Verizon has stepped up to help businesses in the interim and certainly would be great if we could work out something in the longer term,” Jennifer Taylor, senior development analyst for the Economic Development Division of City Hall, said. “It’s not that they have been unwilling, but they had some plans for that site for a while and didn’t want to obligate themselves.”