Among the most often discussed pieces of real estate in Culver City are the 242 parking spaces available in the site known as the Hayden Tract. After last night’s City Council vote, they will be increased by 54 spaces via a redrawing of lines to create tandem parking. But the 298 parking spaces that will be available for the six businesses that use the space are still considered like a form of irrigation in the desert. Anyone trying to run a business, or grow a business in Culver City needs parking like farmers need water.
Several business owners and neighbors addressed the council last night in regard to Public Hearing 2. The agenda item to “Consideration of directing staff to prepare a resolution approving (1) an Administrative Permit for Tandem Parking and (2) an Administrative Modification to Allow a Reduction of Parking Stall Widths and (3) Amending a Public Parking Covenant to Permit Tandem Parking on an Existing Surface Parking Lot at 8511 Warner Drive.” Councilmember Andy Weissman noted that, with the exception of PXP (Baldwin Hills Oil Field) he had “spent more time on the council on this topic than any other issue involving the city.”
With an end date of 2016, several council members were looking to see if that would be the point at which the city could extract itself from the role of referee.
While David Freytag, Bobby Perez and James Jacobson all spoke on behalf of the businesses using the current parking, Tanya Konishi spoke on behalf of the neighborhood. No one was against the tandem parking, but the idea that the current covenant would expire in 2016 was a source of stress.
Perez, of the Jason factory, said that he had 100 employees and only 40 spaces. “If I lose those spaces, I will have to move the factory. There’s no way around it.” In addition, he stated that he had “never seen the lot more than half full. There needs to be an independent study on who is leasing those spaces and why they aren’t being used.”
Jacobson offered his sense that it was “very fear-based. We are currently leasing spaces that we are not using, but with the insecurity of the future, we have to hang on to all the spaces we have, as future tenants may need them.”
Councilmember Scott Malsin addressed the bottom line with his comment that “the current covenant only extends for another six years, and after that, all bets are off.” He was also looking forward to that date as a deadline when “the city will no longer be in the parking business.”
But he was redressed by Councilmember Mehaul O’Leary, who felt adamantly that the city had better stay in the parking business. “We do it for downtown,” he said. “As a businessman, I know how crucial parking is. If I had to decide on recommitting to a lease, and in five years I knew I would not have parking, that would be it.” He emphasized that that city needed to be responsible. “If this situation is not solved by property owners or developers, we will be in the [parking] business.”
The motion, carefully considered and weighed, was to cap the additional 56 spaces at a price of $130 a month, to keep the current 242 spaces at fair market value of $100 a month, and that there would be no price increase in regard to long term leasing in effect while the surface lot was in use, and no reallocation without permission.
The public hearing will continue on July 12.