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Defend your Position —

We find ourselves in the center of a major controversy here in Southern California. Seems the city of Santa Monica has decided to close and demolish one of the parking structures surrounding its Third Street Promenade. Ostensibly it is planning to sell the property to developers who will build ‘affordable’ housing on the site.

This has brought local merchants out of the woodwork and caused considerable consternation, dueling consultants, law suits, injunctions, and a lot of bad blood.

It goes back to an original consulting report that basically told the city what it wanted to hear. In addition to the fact that there was plenty of parking without the garage, the ‘’lack of parking” would motivate people to use the many types of public transportation now available in the city. That includes the massively underused metro, scooters, bikes, buses, and of course your own two feet.

The local merchants, incensed at the loss of parking, hired their own consultants who found that over 1000 cars a day parked in that lot (1200 on weekends), and not only did it generate parking revenue for the city but those parkers generated many hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales to local merchants. In addition the study found surrounding lots full and the streets jammed.

The city basically said “up yours,” so the merchants hired a lawyer and requested an injunction to stop the closure. The city ignored the injunction and closed the lot. However demolition is on hold til the problem winds itself through the courts.

Rumors are flowing about kickbacks, payoffs, and other nefarious activities on the part of both sides. If anyone told you the parking industry was boring, they got it wrong.

I don’t really have a dog in this fight, meaning I could care less. However this is an opportunity to learn just how much parking figures into decision making at the municipal level. The city wants to build affordable housing and also motivate people not to drive and to use available public transportation. Fair enough. And supposedly they held hearings and the like so all side could be heard. If that’s the case, I wonder under what tree the merchants were sitting while all this was going on.

It is also apparent that consulting firms can find just about whatever facts that are needed to sell their side of the story. My understanding is that the merchants were a bit late in coming into this fight, and their report was an eleventh hour attempt to stop the process. That neither makes it good or bad. Also the original report is neither good or bad.

I’m sure that if there was a ‘throw down’ in the middle of Fourth Street in Santa Monica between the two consulting firms, much might be learned and much sunlight thrown on the project.

When PhD candidates put forth their doctoral thesis, they are required to ‘defend’ their work to experts in the field. Would it not be a good idea to have a similar approach with reports such as the ones received in Santa Monica?

Just Sayin

JVH

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One Response to Defend your Position —

  1. scott kangas says:

    Did I miss something? Where will the new occupants park as well as the current 1,000+ users?

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