The City Council has long been seeking solutions for parking problems in downtown Culver City. But a controversial move to extend the hours of operation for metered parking in the downtown area was suspended until July 10 via a Council motion at the Monday night meeting.
The Council had considered recommendations made in the Walker Parking Study and in January adopted a resolution that extended the time of operation for metered parking in the downtown area to 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except holidays (previously the hours were 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and excluded Sundays).
At the March 26 Council meeting, several speakers in public comment spoke out about the new parking plan. Business owners were very dissatisfied, claiming that the new hours of operation would discourage customers. It was decided to have further discussion on the topic and to have the resolution on suspending the implementation of the new plan come up at the following City Council meeting.
The July 10 cutoff date for the suspension will give City staff sufficient time to gather additional information on the potential impacts of extended operating hours for the downtown parking meters. The suspension was set to begin on April 3, the morning after the Council meeting.
A second portion of the resolution as proposed was to suspend the Council’s plan to authorize the recruitment of two parking enforcement officers and two community service officers in the police department. Revenue to fund these positions was to have come from the increase in both the hourly metered rate and the extended meter hours.
Council member Andrew Weissman questioned the joining together of these two issues in one motion. “We are already logistically challenged as to the number of officers we have out there,” he said. He suggested that the motion be split into two separate motions because of the need for more officers of enforcement. Jeffrey Cooper seconded the motion.
City Manager John Nachbar explained that staff had thought the two issues could be dealt with in one motion and that the reassessment of parking and enforcement needs in downtown could be done during the suspension. “Not that we shouldn’t have additional personnel—we may have the revenue—we just want the opportunity to examine it.”
Ultimately, the Council voted for the first part of the motion as it had been phrased but did not include suspending the filling of the enforcement officer positions.
Christopher Armenta asked how motorists will find out about the suspension.
Public Works Director Charles Herbertson said the meters would be changed to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and that signs would be posted. It would all be relatively easy to do, he added.
Herbertson noted that city staff’s interpretation of the Walker Parking Study was that there are different types of parking—valet parking being the high-end, followed by street parking and finally parking structures. The idea of the extended meter hours was “to make street parking more expensive –then the structures become more convenient.” There was also an intent to keep employees from hogging the parking spaces and making it difficult for customers to park.
In other actions, the Council made a proclamation declaring April 2012 as DMV/Donate Life Month in Culver City. A man who was a kidney-transplant recipient gave a moving speech about the need for organ donations.
The Council also recognized Gloriana Najarro, a single mother who graduated from the City’s Family Self Sufficiency Program. Najarro has been able to keep a job, increase her income, and raise her family without public assistance, through the Family Self Sufficiency Program.