A pair of changes to existing development agreements come before the Planning Commission and City Council in the next few weeks. Both will have major negative impacts on community livability if approved. The amendments concern parking and traffic around Saint John’s Health Center.
As part of its 1998 development agreement with City Hall, Saint John’s was supposed to build a 442-stall subterranean parking garage adjacent to its new hospital. The garage still hasn’t been built and now Saint John’s is asking to amend its DA to allow it to lease 450 parking spaces at the Yahoo! Center business park nearly two blocks away, instead.
There’s just one problem. The Yahoo! Center’s 1981 DA precludes them from leasing parking space to non-tenants.
Yahoo! Center owner, CA-Colorado Center L.L.C., obtained all the necessary city permits and licenses to operate a parking concession in its 3,086 capacity garage in 2004. It’s already paid $3,074,184.23 in parking taxes to City Hall in just over the last five years. Much of this taxable income is from leasing parking space to non-tenants, despite not being allowed per its DA!
So, the owner is asking the City Council to amend its DA to “legalize” leasing of parking space to off-site parties. They claim there is enough parking available in their garage that they could lease out 1,053 stalls to non-tenants and still provide sufficient parking.
If the Yahoo! Center were to fully lease all its office/retail space (one third is unoccupied at this time), its owners claim that even at full tenant occupancy at peak periods they would have parking space left over. Various monitoring plans and an annual community meeting would assure there would always be sufficient parking space on-site with virtually no chance of vehicular overflow into surrounding residential areas.
Current (not-tenant) rates are $183 per month. In and out rates are $2.50 every 12 minutes, $12.50/hour, $29 maximum. Package rates for multiple parking stalls such as those leased by car dealers are negotiated.
CA-Colorado Center L.L.C is also requesting a change to the center’s tenant parking ratio from the current one stall for every 322 square feet of office space to one stall for every 500 square feet of office space. This would free up even more parking spots to lease to non-tenants.
The elimination of a mandate that tenants provide free parking to their employees is also requested although it’s noted that tenants can still pay their employee parking. The owners also promise to implement a traffic management plan. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if all the checks and balances promised will prevent increased traffic and congestion on neighboring streets.
This brings us back to Saint John’s and the heart of the issue. Approval of Saint John’s “Application to Amend” its DA to permit a 10-year shared parking arrangement at the Yahoo! Center is dependent on council approval of Yahoo! Center’s amended DA allowing leasing of parking space to off-site entities — such as Saint John’s.
Neighbors vehemently oppose both DA amendments. The fears are that once Saint John’s receives a legal, long-term commitment to park vehicles at the Yahoo! Center, its management will continue to avoid its obligation to build on-site hospital parking.
Both Saint John’s and Yahoo! Center say that visitors, doctors and staff will pay to park two plus blocks away from the hospital and either walk to and from the hospital and parking garage or wait for shuttles. Valet parking at the hospital front entrance is also available.
Saint John’s could validate some parking. Example: nurses I communicated with receive $60 per month discounted parking. But, is all this good enough to make Yahoo! Center’s remote garage attractive?
Most people (like me), cruise the neighborhood and look for open and free street parking or scarce metered parking — even if it means parking north of Wilshire Boulevard and walking two or three blocks.
I had previously written that the relationship between Saint John’s Health Center and its neighbors was poor. The hiring of a City Hall lobbyist (and bag-woman for developers contributing to certain City Council candidates) to fight for both amendments is a slap in the face to residents. And, one more public relations failure.
If the Planning Commission and the City Council accept the Yahoo! Center’s proposed amendment, and subsequently relieve Saint John’s of their promise to provide on-site parking by amending their DA, this would open the door for more developers to game the system, exacerbate traffic congestion and dump more parking woes squarely on all residential neighborhoods.
The Yahoo! Center’s DA amendment is before the City Council June 14. Saint John’s request for an amendment for non-tenant parking is before the Planning Commission June 15 and then moves to City Council for final approval or rejection on June 28.
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