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    Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal Announces "Roadmap" to Unveiling 766 Overnight 2nd Dist. Parking Spaces With More Promised

    by Ryan Smolar

    (March 15, 2007) -- 2nd district Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal held a press conference in a brand new 26-space parking lot to announce the delivery of 766 new overnight parking spots throughout the 2nd District over the next six months.

    Photo credit: Daniel deBoom

    The announcement, across the street from downtown's iconic Villa Riviera at Ocean Blvd./Alamitos Ave., unveiled a package of overnight parking-relief initiatives to help address the area's chronic shortage of parking spaces. To view the package of measures in detail (pdf file), click here.

    The announcement comes just seven months after Councilwoman Lowenthal (elected June 2006) proposed her first initiative to Council: to adopt a resolution to research various short and long-term solutions to the Second District’s impacted parking problem.

    In a release, Councilwoman Lowenthal said, "I've received many calls and emails championing the focused attention that this issue deserves. I see this parking initiative as a work in progress. If we focus on attaining any particular number of spaces, we limit ourselves to that number. Instead, this plan continuously works with the city's fluctuating density and development. These measures should continue long after my own tenure."

    Councilwoman Lowenthal worked with and credited Cathy Wieder, Special Assistant to the City Manager, who helped coordinate the efforts of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine, Department of Public Works and the Departments of Planning and Community Development to ‘uncover’ the parking spaces from four distinct sources: (1) new parking lots, (2) extended uses for existing parking lots, (3) street sweeping time changes, and (4) policy changes.

    The parking spots provided by new lots and the extended use of existing lots will be available in as little as one month at prices ranging from free to $40/month.

    They include the opening of the Junipero Beach Parking Lot from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. (adding 451 overnight spots), the Dragon House Restaurant in the East Village for Monday-Thursday parking (adding 82 spots), and the smaller lots of businesses, social institutions and churches throughout the district such as the Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) on Ocean Blvd. and the Pike Bar on 4th Street.

    Image source: City of Long Beach released map
    A map was released identifying new parking areas. To view the map in clearer expanded pdf form, click the image to the left (and a pdf window will open).

    Ron Nelson, interim Executive Director for LBMA told that "the museum is participating in this program to help quell residents’ worries about finding a place to park late at night."

    Chris Reece, owner of the Pike Bar on 4th Street, explained his involvement as "being a good neighbor by sharing my lot when my business doesn’t require it."

    Additional parking relief is promised by adjusting street sweeping times for Broadway and 4th Street between Alamitos and Junipero from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. to the more reasonable 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., roughly doubling curb-side parking spaces for some of the most heavily impacted areas of the Alamitos Beach Neighborhood.

    Councilwoman Lowenthal also announced a variety of policy changes intended to alleviate parking ills. They are (1) the formation of a 2nd District Parking Advisory Commission in the next 30 days, (2) Increasing code-enforcement of converted garages and split rooms, (3) a program to tow away junker cars left on the street at no cost to the owner, (4) Converting undeveloped or dilapidated properties into mixed-use parking structures, and (5) discouraging parking variances for new developments including an additional step for scrutinizing such variances.

    Overall, a majority of the new parking options being provided are located in the impacted neighborhoods East of Downtown where parking continues to be a problem. Councilwoman Lowenthal noted, "Our parking problem evolved over decades and the solution should evolve too."

    She indicated that she's counting on her newly formed Parking Advisory Commission to continue to work with businesses and residents to find more parking in the future.

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