The Culver City Council voted 5-0 Monday night to double the fees at city parking meters from 50 cents to $1 per hour.
Despite protests from the business community councilmembers echoed the sentiments of Mayor Andy Weissman that the increase was long overdue.
Stating that the city should not have different meter fees in various parts of the community, as has been the case, City Manager Mark Scott was adamant that “we need to have a common rate throughout the city.”
Goran Eriksson, speaking on behalf of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, told the council the chamber was not opposed to the increase but saw the distribution of meters as unfair and inequitable where certain business streets have meters on one side of the street and not the other.
Business representatives told council that parking for customers and employees were inadequate. Ann Smith who owns a business in East Culver City on Washington Boulevard complained that restrictive parking in the residential area is a problem for both her employees teaching classes and her customers who have to leave in the middle of a session to go “feed the meter.” She went on to ad that “we have one lunatic on Caroline (Avenue) who doesn’t want anyone parking on his street.”
East Washington business owner Jud West told council that he provides $500 per month so his employees can “feed the meters” as there is no parking for his staff. The increase may cause his business to move out of Culver City.
Councilmember Scott Malsin, who told the businesses that they were valuable to the community, echoed the “lack of off street parking” as a major Problem for businesses.
A chagrined councilmember Mehaul O’Leary was concerned with the concept of “feeding the meter” where employees return to their car and continue to pay for their parking throughout the day. The idea of meters he said was to insure the turnover of vehicles that some busineeses need in order to have the necessary foot traffic for sales.
Councilmember Christopher Armenta put it succinctly in his statement that “we must include the balancing that the financial impacts on the businesses in addition to the shortage of parking.”
Council voted unanimously to issue a report on the progress made since the moratorium which will be presented at the October 5 council meeting. The moratorium will expire on October 8 if it is not extended by the council.
On August 24, 2009, the City Council adopted and interim ordinance establishing a 45-day temporary moratorium on the drilling, redrilling or deepening of any wells within the jurisdiction of the City of Culver City that are associated with oil and/or gas operations. The action was taken in order to allow the City time to thoroughly review study and revise the City’s laws, rules, procedures and fees related to oil and/or gas operations.
John Martini representing Plains Exploration Development Company (PXP) appeared before council to announce that PXP had filed three applications for new oil wells and to complain that “the City has no justification in extending the moratorium on oil drilling.”
In a tone of voice and words threatening a lawsuit against the city, Martini commented that any continuation of the moratorium will be considered a move to irreparably hark PXP interest and will be a need for PXP to vociferously defend our legal rights.
O’Leary was incensed that PXP had filed its petitions with the state and waited until now to file with the city.
“Didn’t you think the city would be interested in these filings,?” O’Leary asked.
City Attorney Carol Schwab told the council that “because applications were dropped off at a window doesn’t mean they were processed or permits will be issued or even that the applications were deemed complete,” she went on to tell council, “There is a legal moratorium in place at this time.”