Seven sure ways to get lucky… in L.A.
Here are seven sure ways to get lucky finding a parking spot in Los Angeles:
- Hire an out-of-work actor to drive your car around and find a space.
- Buy a scooter, they fit anywhere.
- Don’t own a car.
- Take the Metro.
- Sell your car.
- Have dinner in Glendale.
- Find a spot on an unregulated street and leave your car.
While some suggestions seem drastic – who really wants to go to Glendale – the most unreasonable would be those involving giving up a car altogether.
Los Angeles is steeped in automotive culture. People love their cars and the freedom that comes with them. What L.A. residents don’t love is trying to find a place to park their vehicles.
I have two college degrees, am a native English speaker, and still I am often confused by street parking signs in Los Angeles.
I am not the only one – I know this from the streets lined with ticketed cars.
Getting around L.A. by vehicle is like playing a giant game of musical chairs. There are more than 10,000,000 people living in Los Angeles County as of 2013, various websites put registered vehicles at more than 7.5 million. Tack on semi-trucks, motorcycles, tourists and the possible unregistered vehicle and the number of moving parts becomes staggering.
The allotment of parking spaces or “chairs” is approximately 10. OK, that’s not totally accurate but it’s hard to track down up-to-date numbers.
So at any given time – except rush hour when a large number of vehicles are frozen in place on The 5, 405, 101, etc. – there are millions of drivers looking for one parking spot.
There is nothing more frustrating that successfully navigating across town to meet friends for dinner and then spending the next 15 minutes to half an hour circling blocks looking for a place.
There is one thing more frustrating, and that’s finding a spot only to get out of the car and be bombarded with numerous signs that require the Rosetta Stone to understand.
No parking from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
2 hour parking from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
No parking from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday street cleaning
All on the same pole. Check phone for date and time: Thursday, 6 p.m. Re-read signs. Re-check phone. Repeat. Looks safe.
In other locations, the chaos is greater:
No parking 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday street cleaning
No parking 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. nightly
2 hour parking 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Vehicles with **** permits exempted
No parking – passenger loading only – 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. 5-minute limit.
Yeah, it’s better to park blocks away or take the Metro.
According to Parkme.com, the city of Los Angeles controls nearly 49,000 parking spaces and its traffic officers hand out more than 3 million parking tickets each year. (On a recent drive to visit a friend in Hollywood, there were three full blocks of ticketed cars, whose drivers – possibly tourists at Grauman’s Chinese Theater two blocks away – failed to note it was Monday street cleaning. Cha-ching! Welcome to L.A.)
The website noted the average ticket is between $60-$80 dollars (street cleaning day) to $300 (parking in a bus lane). While the comparison makes $60 look good, sadly, I can say from personal experience that $60 on top of an average L.A. meal makes for a pretty expensive evening.
In a 2012 article, LA.Curbed.com looked at downtown parking by the numbers.
* 39,440: Number of parking meters in Los Angeles
* $1,000: Approximate amount a meter pulls in in a year
* 100: Number of parking spaces a million square foot building in New York could be required to have
* 1,300: Approximate number of spaces that building would be required to have in L.A.
Sadly, all 1,300 spaces are full and the part-time cleaning crew is late getting to work because they’re circling the block looking for a spot because it’s Wednesday street cleaning.
As I search for an apartment, I find very few offering off-street parking. One complex has a two-year waiting list for a parking spot. Another complex has off-street gated parking for an additional $80 a month – pushing a relatively reasonable rent of $895 to a ramen-eating $975, and that doesn’t include utilities or internet or a sink in the kitchen. (Apartment hunting is another story altogether.)
While staying with friends, I have been fortunate to get my “perfect space” across from the apartment more than 50 percent of the time. Those other times, it’s a bit of a tight squeeze and a hike.
I learned to use the Metro (half-mile walk) just so I could keep my perfect spot at least until Friday when I have to move it for street cleaning.