I find it distressing that the city still wants to proceed with the concept of reducing parking in an effort to control traffic congestion. The concept of getting rid of parking in Santa Monica is very parochial. It assumes that all residents work within the city and all workers live within the city (many of each group cannot afford to), along public transit corridors. This is true in San Francisco, New York, and Mackinac Island, Mich.

But Santa Monica is not an island, nor is it a narrow self-contained peninsula. It is part of the sprawling Los Angeles basin, including the San Fernando Valley, downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach and beyond. Some may be fortunate enough to commute along mass transit corridors; many will not.

I used to commute to Canoga Park and Thousand Oaks, and two to three hours each way on mass transit was out of the question. Even if everyone worked in our city or took public transit, people still need cars for various errands, vacations, traveling after dark, plus those with disabilities who cannot bike or walk very far, but can still drive. Even visitors need to get here, whether by private car or taxi during rush hour traffic, thereby adding to congestion, since hotel rooms usually become available after 3 p.m. Visitors are not going to arrive from LAX via downtown Los Angeles to ride the light rail into our city.

How many residents would have moved here if they couldn’t park a car where they live? How many city officials could get by without a car? The concept of separating parking from apartment and condo leases will simply make owning a car even more expensive, and living in Santa Monica less affordable.

It seems to me the best solution is for day workers to park outside the city and ride frequent public transport into their places of work. Ideally this parking would be east of Interstate 405 to relieve the severe congestion on the limited through traffic lanes under the 405. That should appreciably reduce Santa Monica rush-hour traffic congestion. Providing all local community services (drugstores, banks, markets, etc.) in the different neighborhoods also reduces the need for residents to come Downtown.

But taking away commercial and residential parking will only benefit developers. How many residents and workers can honestly get by without at least one car in the family? Unfortunately the city isn’t designed for separate vehicle streets and bike paths, because it would be beneficial to physically separate the two, thereby making the city more user friendly to all forms of transportation.


Jim Gerstley

Santa Monica

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