Former mayor Paul Rosenstein wrote a letter to this newspaper ("Let them lease,” April 27, Page 4) and to at least one online news service taking issue with my position that the Planning Commission should not give the owner/operators of the Yahoo! Center carte-blanch approval to lease out so called “surplus” parking spaces on their property
His letter provides a revealing insight into the mindset that has dictated City Hall’s handling of traffic and parking issues over the last three decades.
Colorado Place is a typical super-block, 1980s style office park bounded by Broadway, 26th Street, Colorado Avenue and Cloverfield Boulevard. Its developers acquired a Development Agreement in October 1981. Construction began shortly thereafter. According to a Planning Department staff report the site, since renamed Yahoo! Center, is a mixed-use office park totaling 1,024,074 square feet of floor area with 3,086 (subterranean) parking spaces.”
About two-thirds of the center’s space is currently leased according to the report. “The majority of its space (is) leased to office tenants, along with some commercial space for retail, health club, and restaurant uses. The project site also contains a child care center, a public park, and community rooms,” it stated.
Being that the project was approved for 3,086 parking spots, one would assume the number was based on real need as reflected by planning concerns not on the developer’s desire to build hundreds of expensive, unneeded parking places. Rosenstein hints that they may have been forced to build more parking than needed to meet neighbor — including his — concerns at the time.
Rosenstein who served on City Council from November, 1992 to November, 2000 was a Mid-City neighborhood activist during the 1980s. He admits to being skeptical of a study by the Colorado Place developer that called for “fewer parking spaces based on a shared parking analysis …” He wrote, “We neighbors distrusted this study and became concerned that if the number of spaces was reduced, the project’s tenants and visitors would park in the neighborhood.”
Rosenstein chaired a committee that “hammered out an agreement during the Planning Commission hearing” that "required the present number of parking spaces and provided free parking to all employees of the tenants and visitors.”
Rosenstein adds that "money was also committed to mitigate traffic in the area — like reducing traffic lanes, adding stop signs, medians and bike lanes in the residential portions of the area.”
While Rosenstein calls this “traffic mitigation,” I call it traffic jamming and thus another clue to the ruling mindset or “SMRR-think” — the social engineering agenda of those who have and currently control Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, the city’s dominant political force.
Reducing traffic lanes, adding stop signs and physical impediments that impair a street’s ability to efficiently carry traffic does nothing to mitigate, or alleviate, traffic. It only makes it worse.
“We later realized that free parking is counter-productive to reducing traffic (it encourages employees to use their cars instead of ride sharing and alternative transport),” he wrote. This half-cocked theory of reducing traffic has since evolved into zoning decisions that reduce parking required for new developments and debate on whether to decouple parking all together. This has led to more, not less, parking and traffic problems.
This is to get us out of our personal vehicles and onto buses, bicycles or to walk. It doesn’t work because we can choose where to work, shop and be entertained, like where parking is free or cheap, convenient and without hassle.
Rosenstein chided me for voicing an opinion “without foundation,” yet he admitted, “I don’t know if the numbers in the owner’s study are reasonable …" then opines that allowing parking at the Yahoo! Center to be leased out “seems reasonable.” How would he know? He doesn’t even know if their study is valid.
Rosenstein adds that the amendment "requires leased spaces to be returned to tenant uses when necessary.” Rosenstein should know better. After all the hullabaloo about DAs that haven’t been enforced, who is going to follow up let alone trust that the center’s operators will voluntarily return leased spaces to tenants if the need arises?
Also a revealing mindset is Rosenstein’s comment that “the transportation demand management requirement to cut down car trips is a positive addition.” So how is bringing in hundreds of off-site vehicles to park in supposedly underutilized Yahoo! Center garages going to reduce car trips?
Keep in mind, traffic is generated by just going to and from Yahoo! Center’s garages because of inadequate parking at their choice destination such as at Saint John’s Health Center that doesn’t want to build the on-campus parking facility they had agreed to and is counting on leasing hundreds of spaces at Yahoo! Center, instead.
Yahoo! Center’s request to amend its Development Agreement to allow leasing non-tenant parking in their garage is on the May 18 Planning Commission agenda. Public comment, as always, is invited.
Bill can be reached at email@example.com