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Residential Parking Nightmares in Santa Monica

Parking is a problem in Santa Monica. Anyone will tell you so. Where I live it can be especially bad. On the corner of my block is a Post Office. They don’t have enough parking for their employees, only the trucks. On each of the other “ends” of the street are some small scale commercial properties. One of the properties is a large “bow-truss”, open office space. Over the years, many things have been filmed there, including some music videos, commercials, etc. Every time they use that space to film, parking is an issue.

Parking becomes an issue because there isn’t enough of it in Santa Monica. On my street, because of the post office and the particular commercial businesses, it can be even worse. We had to fight for quite a while to even get residential permit parking on our street. My former neighbor got the requisite signatures on a petition, but due to what is around us, the city was reticent to grant the permit parking, but after a fight with legal overtones, we got our residential permit parking.

Fast forward to the current problem. They are filming in the open space across the street again! They got their permits for the non-residential parking areas and that’s fine. What vexes me is that the city is obtuse!

I thought I had figured out a way to solve the problem and still work within the system. The problem is that residential parking gets used by the film crews and they just “eat” the ticket. A $48 dollar ticket (I think it’s about that much) is nothing when we are talking about a couple hundred thousand dollar film shoot! So I went to city hall and asked the Transportation Management Division if I could do the following….

I wanted to purchase preferential parking permits, much like the movie company got, but for the rest of my street. Instead of making them for “private use”, I wanted them to be for residential permit holders only. Essentially what I was doing was turning the penalty for illegally parking in a residential spot from a ticket to towing for only the days that the film crew was there filming. I offered to pay for the permits, etc.

I explained this to the nice ladies at the counter and they thought that it was at least original and an interesting idea…. It was within the “system” but a strange request that no one had ever made before. They directed me to a nice woman named Ms. Harper who heard me out and looked at me with amazement and then pretty much brushed me off. She had me fill out a “Request for Service” and I got the following letter in response.

Now comes filming today and we have already had issues (when I explained this problem to Ms. Harper, she was unaware of it). There have been a couple of cars already parking in residential permit areas. When I called and a Meter Maid came out, they had a discussion and then the cars moved, without getting a ticket. While we were there, right as one illegally parked car pulled away, another van pulled up. When told that he couldn’t park there, his comment was “Oh sorry, we usually buy the whole street, so I just assumed….”

This is what I was trying to prevent by permitting the rest of the street. I wanted the penalty for parking there to be more than a small dollar amount, I wanted it to “matter”. I was willing to pay for my permits and generate revenue for the city by doing such (that’s why they sell ’em isn’t it?), and in the end, all I wanted to do was protect the residential permit parking for me and my neighbors and was unable to do so due to the city.

So I have another day or so of this. I guess I will have to go out and patrol my street and see whose parking illegally, ’cause the City of Santa Monica sure doesn’t seem to care….