A little taster from the front lines of LA’s parking wars


If you’re wondering why we have a shortage of housing in Los Angeles, I’m here to shed a little light.

We recently bought a duplex with the plan of adding a second story and two more units. This is exactly the type of deal the city should love: We’re adding additional housing to a neighborhood that desperately needs it.

The business plan calls for building a funky parking structure at a cost of around $80k to create enough new parking to allow us to add the new units.

However, we knew going in that there was a reasonable probability that we would be able to avoid building the parking structure, which would allow us to reallocate a portion of the $80k to the building (while pocketing the rest of the savings as increased margin on the deal).

But the city is not going to make it easy on us. Check out this email from the architect working on the project:

“So I met with a different preliminary plan check guy at the city yesterday about the parking. He said technically the design meets the parking requirements but he did say that during plan check they might question the actual ability of a car to maneuver into the end spots. They might not say anything, but he said it was possible.  He also said that the way to be 100% certain is to hire a traffic engineer that uses some type of software to prove that a car can do it.  My feeling is it won’t be an issue at all, but he wouldn’t 100% guarantee anything.  Let me know if you want to just submit the plans and see if any issues are raised or hire a traffic engineer first.”

The city is saying: Yes, your design meets the (ridiculously strict, suburban-style) parking code. However, we’re still not willing to absolutely confirm we’ll approve it. We might. Or we might not.

Now we have a choice: We can go ahead and submit the plans without the parking structure. The city will take a few months to review. They may approve. Or they may force us to re-design to add the parking structure and then re-submit, burning even more time.

Or, if we want certainty, we can spend a bunch of money and time on having a parking engineer (what a job!) build a software model of the design and determine if a car can back out of a spot which already meets the city’s own published code.

All of this to add two more units (with parking!) to a neighborhood where many, many units have no parking provided at all and where rents are skyrocketing because of the lack of supply.

…And people wonder why LA can’t build enough housing to keep up with demand!