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Long Beach searches for parking solutions

Long Beach City Council to approve downtown parking study.

Parking+at+CSULB+can+be+just+as+bad+as+parking+throughout+the+city+of+Long+Beach.+The+parking+is+packed+on+a+Sunday+afternoon+for+graduation+ceremonies.+
Parking at CSULB can be just as bad as parking throughout the city of Long Beach. The parking is packed on a Sunday afternoon for graduation ceremonies.

Parking at CSULB can be just as bad as parking throughout the city of Long Beach. The parking is packed on a Sunday afternoon for graduation ceremonies.

Alex Naveja

Alex Naveja

Parking at CSULB can be just as bad as parking throughout the city of Long Beach. The parking is packed on a Sunday afternoon for graduation ceremonies.

Collin James, Contributing Writer

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Parking in Downtown Long Beach is dwindling and residents there are willing to pay more and more for a good spot. 40-year-old downtown resident Terrance Amoroso gave up long ago on circling the blocks looking for a space and decided to buy a parking pass. A $152 per month fee grants him access to the Courtyard-Marriott’s parking structure on Linden Avenue – only a block from where he lives.

“Having that peace of mind, and knowing you can go out late at night and have a space to come back to is worth it,” Amoroso said. The Courtyard-Marriott’s structure is protected from the elements and would-be thieves; a luxury his street-parking neighbors do not have.

Although Amoroso says the price of his parking pass is worth the convenience, the price of that convenience is going up. His parking fee was increased by $10 by the end of April.

“I’m not happy about it, but it is still worth it,” Amoroso said.

Ask any resident or worker in these neighborhoods and they will likely tell you parking is a hassle. The problem is that no one knows exactly how to best tackle the problem or even how many parking spots are in Long Beach, including city officials.

“We don’t have any [data] citywide on the number of parking stalls,” said Eric Widstrand, the city’s chief traffic engineer.

The city is interested in finding out and will be contracting a study in the Alamitos Beach neighborhood in downtown. City Council will vote to approve the study on Tuesday, May 23, which will award $250,000 to KOA Corporation, a Japanese city planning firm.

“We want to conduct a downtown parking study in Alamitos Beach to help us assess what the actual parking demand is in those areas,” Widstrand said. “We will get a better idea of how many people are parking, where are they parking and when is the biggest demand for parking.”

Meanwhile, a similar study on parking in Belmont Shore concluded in April. A lawsuit settlement between the city and the Transportation and Parking Solutions is one of the reasons the City of Long Beach is financing these studies. TAPS is a non profit group that advocates for improved parking in downtown. They filed suit under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“When you have people circling around for long periods of time, you’re adding to the pollution and traffic,” Debbie Dobias said.

He says that the parking shortage downtown began with the Downtown Plan, a massive development scheme approved by City Council in 2012. Currently, there are 33 new buildings in the downtown area that are either under construction, in the planning phase or awaiting approval. These new buildings, Dobias said, are chipping away at the existing commercial parking supply. And new units are not required to provide their tenants with a parking space.

Alamitos Beach has some of the most heavily impacted parking surrounding downtown Long Beach and Belmont Shore.

While downtown Long Beach parking is limited future construction projects, Belmont Shore is constricted by narrow streets and small parking spaces. Many of the homes were built in the 20s and 30s at a time when cars were much smaller. The garages in the homes are now functionally obsolete – too small hold [to] today’s SUV’s and trucks, according to Belmont Shore Business Association President Mike Sheldrake.

“You have to have some skill in getting your car into the garage,” Sheldrake said.

Sheldrake said the worst time to look for parking is in the evening, when Belmont Shore residents are returning home from work as the restaurants and bars launch their happy hour specials. Most drivers at this time are looking for a place to park and rarely is it on the same block as their intended destination.

“Everyone is competing for space at the same time,” Sheldrake said. Sheldrake is also the owner of Polly’s Gourmet Coffee, and said that if was not for the lot behind his business, he might lose customers.

The Alamitos Beach study is expected to be completed in 2018. For more information on state of parking in Long Beach, visit Parkinglb.org.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Long Beach searches for parking solutions”

  1. Jason on May 27th, 2017 11:23 am

    Its not just downtown. Look at Wardlow between Pacific and Magnolia. The city put in bike lanes and took away about 40 parking spots that were used by Gaudalupes, the Donut shop and the church. Its lack of thinking at every single level.

    [Reply]

  2. Debbie on June 25th, 2017 9:11 pm

    Please go to LBparking.com for more info on our citizens’ parking group’s effort to get the city to consider solutions that work in other cities. And sign our petition. And get a bumper sticker. 😉

    [Reply]

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